KMAC Announces Major Renovation, Completed 2016

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC) announces major renovation plan to be completed in Spring 2016. After 35 years of artist support, exhibitions, educational programs, and community building, the newly designed museum will increase public space and open opportunities for continued growth.

Renovation plans aim to meet ambitious 2016 goals to engage 10,000 more children in educational programs, double the average visitor duration, grow with downtown development and Museum Row expansion, and double capacity for events. The design includes extra event area, redesigned education space, expanded MakerSpace, and a café.

“With all these activities and a strong community foundation supporting us, KMAC is ready for renovation,” said KMAC Executive Director and Chief Curator Aldy Milliken. “This new flexible, efficient design will help further KMAC’s presence as a downtown community art center.”

The first level of the museum will be transformed into an open, multi-purpose area that will serve as a comfortable gathering space for visitors, while maintaining a regionally focused retail space. Renovations on the second floor will create a streamlined space for national quality exhibitions to better contextualize artists in the community. Third-floor changes include a complete overhaul of the education center to create a better learning environment, accommodate hands-on activities and various group sizes.

KMAC has partnered with Christoff : Finio Architecture, a firm based in New York to bring these plans to life. The team has extensive experience with cultural center design focusing on preservation, including projects at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the New Museum. For on site construction, KMAC will be working with Bosse Mattingly Constructors and K. Norman Berry Architects of Louisville, Kentucky.

In the fall of 2014, The Future is Being Crafted: KMAC’s Capital Campaign began to raise funds to provide ongoing support of art education programs through endowment and enhance facility space to sustain museum growth. KMAC has received pledges of 3.3 million dollars toward the campaign to date.

During renovation, the permanent collection will be safely housed in a climate controlled storage facility. The KMAC Collections Committee is meeting regularly and will continue to assess and grow the permanent collection. With new renovation capacity, the Collection will have a safer home at KMAC and more space to exhibit.

During the 4-6 month renovation time, KMAC educational and exhibition programming will continue, including external exhibitions, pop-up shops and events. The museum will begin renovation in September following the closing of the exhibition Food Shelter Clothing.

“This renovation time offers the opportunity for KMAC to engage in community projects and continue to build relationships,” Aldy Milliken said. “Art education, conversations and outreach efforts will continue across the city.”

Next month, KMAC’s photo biennial exhibition will be displayed at the Louisville Public Library Southwest Branch on Dixie Highway. Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books project will be on view from September 19 – November 8. A public reception with the artist will be held at the library on October 1, 2015.

The KMAC education team will be collaborating with Louisville’s Commission on Public Art to create programming and guides for an arts exhibition to be displayed along the waterfront. KMAC educators will be regularly participating as artists-in-residence at regional schools, and the museum’s popular Mobile Museums will still be available for rental.

The new KMAC will open in Spring 2016 with the exhibition “The Material Issue.” This exhibition will create a dialogue with certain materials that are steeped in traditional craft. Refer to the KMAC website at http://www.kmacmuseum.org and follow on social media @KMACmuseum for updates and event schedules.

 

  • Louisville Mini Maker Faire: September 19, 2015
  • Programs with the Commission on Public Art: August 28-November 2015
  • Photo Biennial Public Reception: October 1, 2015
  • Bourbon Bash: October 3, 2015

 

 

Hite/KMAC Summer Fellow Explores the Permanent Collection

By Hunter Kissel, Hite/KMAC Curatorial Fellow for Summer 2015

Hunter has completed his first year in graduate school pursing a dual Master in Public Administration/Master of Arts in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville; he is a native Louisvillian.

I received my undergraduate degree from Transylvania University in Studio Art last May and now am pursuing a Master degree in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville. The shift from amateur art-maker to aspiring exhibition producer has provided its share of challenges, namely in the language and art historical methods I now use. My personal appetite for participation in the broader arts community, however, has remained the same. The school year ended in the early weeks of May, and I began researching summer opportunities. I was soon offered a fellowship at KMAC.

Denzil Goodpaster. Selected works.
Denzil Goodpaster. Selected works.

As part of the Fellowship, I was given the chance to use KMAC’s permanent collection to display a selection of works in their Brown Forman Gallery. Director Aldy Milliken and Associate Curator Joey Yates often use the summer months to present works from the collection in a gallery setting, and this was sure to be a great chance to practice some of the curatorial methods I had been learning in school. KMAC begins planning their exhibitions as far as two years out in some cases, so completing the show in little over one month seemed like a tall order.

KMAC’s permanent collection contains works by acclaimed regional and national folk artists. Artists from Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia are heavily represented in the collection, and as a result themes of economic agriculture, religion, American identity, and wildlife are all very present. After browsing the catalogue of KMAC’s permanent collection and inspecting some of these artworks in person, I was able to narrow down my selection for the exhibition to about twenty pieces. I selected many of these Appalachian artists as well as some contemporary local artists working in glass, photography, or patchwork.

The selection process was not an easy one. While many of these artworks deserve to be shown, a number of constraints surfaced and I was unable to include objects I really admire. My conversations with Joey Yates were emphasized with the notion that “less is more.” The idea of a cluttered gallery made us uneasy, and subsequently space had to be compromised in order to include a diversity of artists as well as multiple works by the same artist when their breadth required it. Each object needed “room to breathe” (as the popular saying goes), and my selections were heavily influenced by the gallery space itself.

Marvin Finn, Crane 1980
Marvin Finn, Crane 1980

The final title of the exhibition was simple—Highlights from the Permanent Collection. There was no need to contextualize these works. The collection speaks for itself. The final display includes artists like Earnest Patton, one of the most renowned artists in KMAC’s collection, who carves human figures with precision and clean technique. His depiction of Adam and Eve is as topical as that of his mermaid or woman in a swimsuit. Minnie Adkins’ use of a fox motif translates fluidly from woodcarving to quilt, demonstrating the artist’s ability to execute in a variety of mediums. Carl McKenzie’s figures stand as anomalies, distanced from the comparable work produced by Patton, Denzil Goodpaster, and Junior Lewis. His splotched Lady Liberty and Red Cross Nurse are vibrant takes on popular subjects. Finally, Marvin Finn and his flock of familiar birds are at hand within KMAC’s collection.

The resulting exhibition advocates for the importance of collecting. Under Milliken and Yates, KMAC is transforming from an artist-represented gallery into an archival museum. KMAC’s current collection is a solid foundation for a more expansive holding of artworks. Highlights marks a checkpoint for an evolving institution.

Highlights from the Permanent Collection, curated by Hunter Kissel, will be on display in the Brown Forman Gallery at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft until mid-September. To see more from the exhibition, visit http://www.kmacmuseum.org. 

Guest: KMAC Couture and the Interoperability of Louisville

Image by Joey Goldsmith.
“Exposed” by Gunnar Deatherage. Image by Joey Goldsmith.

By Dianne H. Timmering

The interoperability of Louisville—a boast for best city for jobs and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft: We are a full-bodied movement—restaurants, life quality, home uniqueness, neighborhood simplicity, city art, brilliant theatre, healthcare metropolis, UPS hub to the world, and 16,000 job openings … good ones.

Another reason why Kentucky boasts Louisville as one of the best U.S. cities for jobs is our cultural “reachings”, our budding artistry ….

Recently, I went to a most unexpected glorious celebration of the human element—one of triumph and dedication, one depicting the loneliness of an artist in their creation of the soul, knowing they could bend and create something out of a material that was never meant for or discovered for such a thing as a “wearable.” The art of the heart was worth the suffering to get from the soul and into the crafted pleat of a skirt, the still of a sleeve, the lift of a collar, the bead of a shoe. But these were no ordinary sleeves, or skirts, ruffles or shoes.

This was #KMACCouture 2015— a fashion show fundraiser for the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, a title not worthy enough for the display of creative freedom that I witnessed as art lived in the embodiment of the dress, the construction of materials that were never meant to glide along the mellifluous elegance of the human curve or press into the sensuous skin.

"Sweet P" by Frances Lewis. Photo by Joey Goldsmith.
“Sweet P” by Frances Lewis. Photo by Joey Goldsmith.

The audience was us, the women of Louisville (and a few brave and stylish men). The “us” was gorgeous, clad in the clash of white, the din of expectation, a sea of lightness, airy like we were a pillowed cloud and whatever was coming through the curtain was going to float.

And float it did. The show started; it was a fashion show unlike any I had seen before.

Angst was in the tulle, hope in the sleeveless, bare of the vulnerable arm. Every cloak had a story, every piece a design the eye simply couldn’t get enough of. Details as exquisite in the front as they were in the back. Art from such unexpected mediums worn because they could be. Art reflected in the embodiment of the dress. The greatest expression of self.

The art of canvas, the harshness and lack of dexterity in the material and yet with truffles and waves molded into an elegance that became a most decorous evening gown; one that would find the party in the evening and could possibly dismantle into enough of a tent that if a young hangover got old, warmth and forbearance could be found in the heat of the bundle.

A gown made of broken teacups, time owned in a past era interwoven, sitting on the ledge of fabric, like they might on the edge of a cupboard shelf, but polished, vibrant and used.

Elegant beauty reminiscent of the 17th century English dress made out of duct tape. A Cinderella gown made of mini-marathon medal ribbons, of no value except to the individual who flees through 13.2 miles, but collectively make an invaluable moment.

Dress by Peyton Froula. Photo by Joey Goldsmith.
“Off to the Races” by Peyton Froula. Photo by Joey Goldsmith.

A skirt made of matches.

A ball gown of mop heads, plucked from cores, flipped, dismantled, dyed into elegant threads along the husk of cardboard which carried the slight frame of the model, whisking her down the dusty path, a shine of elegance, its full skirt never forgetting where it came from and where it was going.

Centuries of style replete in silent materials of the day to day but repositioned to power up this glorious night in the city of many jobs and endless hope.

Every piece with worth, the eye of appeal. And then it was over and I knew I had seen more than a fashion show, but an exhibit of artistry that moved, flowed and flourished down the path of must. Because an artist, for we all are in our own capacity of depth, must be, or an artist dies. We must try, even if the piece fails because there is peace in the piece of attempt and then we try again. And that is good.

We are a city capturing the artistry of self where one can be unbridled in the brilliance of simply being.

 

Dianne H. Timmering is the Vice President of Spirituality and Legislative Affairs for Signature HealthCARE. For more information about KMAC Couture, visit kmacmuseum.org.

A Day in a KMAC Residency

Since January, KMAC Educators have reached 887 students through twelve different artist residencies where KMAC educators go into the schools to lead arts programming. Each year KMAC education programs inspire 30,000 students through memorable art making experiences when they otherwise might have had none.  Kat Lewis-Residency edite

On February 26, Kat Lewis, a KMAC board member, retired art teacher, and practicing artist joined Liz Richter, one of KMAC’s Museum Educators at Indian Trail Elementary where she assisted during the last day of a three-day artist-in-residence program. Here is what Kat had to say about her experience:

“The residency was for the 75 second graders who were to design African clay masks relating to their current studies. I was assisting in the final step, which was glazing the masks. The children in the first group filed in from lunch and took their seats excitedly. They were extremely polite and respectful and were eager to show me their creations. Liz Richter, our amazing art educator, calmly went to the SMART Board and demonstrated how to glaze their pieces. Choosing colors, holding the brush properly, layering glaze, and mixing colors in the palette were among the vastly important concepts conveyed in the few minutes allotted for instruction.

Then we were off! We passed out brushes, water buckets, paper towels and glaze palettes. We answered questions and steadied brushes while admiring the wonderful nose on one mask, the incredible hair on another, and the craftsmanship and careful brushstrokes on yet another. Then, of course, the hour was up too soon. The children reluctantly put down their brushes, and we put the masks on the shelves to dry. Brushes were quickly washed and glaze palettes refilled as we moved to the next room of 25 excited second graders to repeat the process. And so it went until the third class was finished. We then carefully bagged all 75 masks and packed them up to take to KMAC for firing.

Yes, I wish we had had more time to allow the children to explore all the possibilities of clay, to have time to look at each mask and discuss with each little artist the creative choices he or she made. I wish there were a large airy art room complete with a full-time art teacher and a kiln in each public school, but this is why KMAC is so vitally important! Due to the reality of time and budget constraints, many schools cannot provide an arts education. KMAC offers, through its residencies and field trips, rich art experiences to as many eager children as possible. Our art educators are smart, creative, tireless, patient and superbly organized. Through their lesson plans, complete with vocabulary, “I can” statements, and ideas for connections to other content areas, our arts educators offer the classroom teacher a complete and meaningful experience. I am proud to be associated with an organization that transforms our community so positively on a daily basis.” –Kat Lewis

Docent. Funny Title for a Fun Job

Docents are one of the best assets to museums. They volunteer their time to learn in-depth about exhibitions and then share their learned knowledge with visitors on guided tours. They field questions and comments about art, the process of art,  and who it is making art in order to aide patrons to a better understanding of something that can be intimidating. It’s a stimulating exchange of ideas and insight between guide and guest.

KMAC recently revived the docent program and we welcome Dana Moore and Gretchen Treitz Brown to the team of dedicated museum volunteers. The current exhibition The New Art of the Loom is their second exhibition giving guided tours. They also guide school field trip tours. Docent tours are available every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 3pm. Simply meet at KMAC’s front reception desk. There is no added fee for the guided tour.

We asked Dana and Gretchen to give us a few observations about being a docent and how they came to volunteer at KMAC.

Gretchen Treitz Brown
“As a docent, I provide tours to facilitate a rewarding museum experience.  I love to help the viewer connect with a piece.  I feel privileged to receive the training from KMAC curators and educators. At KMAC, there is a rich and diverse audience; my experience has been with local, national, and international visitors.  My conversations with visitors bring out more and different ways to view things–visitors and docents can interact and learn from each other.  Each time I give a tour, I notice something new.  Something magical happens when a visitor takes the time to contemplate a detail I might point out.  I tend to talk about my favorite pieces, however, it has been so valuable to learn about an unfamiliar artist or process.  Besides the continuous training process, I enjoy the additional reading and studying about each exhibit.  I can answer questions, thus offering a more satisfying experience.  My interactions with a piece are heightened when visitors share their insights, whether students or adults.  Because I have a significant commitment to the visual arts, it has been a joy to attend curator tours, lectures, exhibition openings, orientation, and on-going training.”

Dana Moore
“I first became aware of KMAC when my son was small and he participated in Winter Break workshops and Summer Art Camp.  I have participated in several hands-on workshops and even worked with metal in a session taught by Craig Kaviar.

I’ve always had an interest in art since childhood and love the process that goes into creating an artwork.  My family loves to travel and museums are always on our list of places to visit.

I am a retired Speech Language Pathologist who worked primarily in the public schools.  Volunteering as a Docent will still let me show students the process and creative thought that goes into a work of art.  I like listening to the KMAC staff and always look forward to learning and seeing new exhibits.”

If you’re passionate about art and love to share this excitement with others, consider becoming a KMAC docent. Email Dane at dane@kmacmuseum.org for more details.

Weaving A Community With Our Stories

Scientists have proven the positive health benefits we receive when we journal or create art to express our life experiences, so the museum presents the perfect opportunity for the community to do both. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, in partnership with The Little Loomhouse, present Weaving A Community With Our Stories, an interactive weaving project designed to initiate the discovery of personal stories that bind us together in hope and healing as a community. This project is in conjunction with the current exhibition The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and is open to the Louisville community and museum visitors until January 25, 2015.
KMAC contacted local community organizations (Neighborhood House, Cabbage Patch Settlement House, Gilda’s Club, Youth Detention Services, ESL Newcomer’s Academy, The Healing Place, JCTC ESL Students and others) and asked the people they serve to create story cloths to be used as the warp or first layer of the community tapestry. Participants received hand-dyed blank story cloths upon which they wrote their personal stories through prose, poetry or drawings. The warp consists of 100 story cloths that are interwoven on a large standing loom built by YouthBuild Louisville and installed in the second floor gallery of the Museum.

KMAC Educator, Sarah McCartt-Jackson, said, “the Museum has made and enriched connections with many organizations and voices that otherwise might be unheard, marginalized, or misunderstood.” Mrs. McCartt-Jackson helped in facilitating the students from the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program at Jefferson Community & Technical College (JCTC), which provide a great example of these powerful stories:

“Coming to America is a big dream for many people but living is different reality.”

“The languages of the world wake me up every day! I love the sea. I am snow. My name is your name. I believe in music. One world, many voices”

“My name is Mohamed. I was born in Somalia and grown up in Kenya. Came to America in the age of 19 years. My English was very bad. Coming to the United States was very good opportunity for my family and I. The reason I go to school today is to get my social work degree!”

The Weft Phase of the project is crafted by weaving in additional story cloths from Museum visitors, which continues throughout The New Art of the Loom exhibit (January 25). Blank story cloths are available and located in the second floor gallery.

The Little Loomhouse

The mission of the Little Loomhouse is to promote the Lou Tate landmark home and center for textile art and education as a cultural destination through preservation of the three historic cabins and education of textile folk art for all ages. The Little Loomhouse is owned and operated by the Lou Tate Foundation.

KMAC Current Exhibition

The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and Looming Local: Contemporary Kentucky Tapestry feature artists who explore a broad range of themes from cultural identity and formalism to storytelling and history through the labor-intensive process of weaving.

Looming Large

KMAC has gone stark weaving mad.

Artists from 16 countries currently fill our two main galleries with over two-dozen loom woven works. Shown in conjunction with the traveling exhibit The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry, KMAC has organized Looming Local as a response to some of the issues raised by the international artists. The works on view range in size and content from the large 8 ½ x 11 foot tapestry Porter with Bicycle: Espagne et Portugal by South African artist William Kentridge to the small, intricate and colorful weavings by Kentucky artist Tori Kleinert.

William Kentridge, Porter Series: Espagne et Portugal, 2004, 99 x 130" Stephens Tapestry Studio, Johannesburg. (Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, New York)
William Kentridge, Porter Series: Espagne et Portugal, 2004, 99 x 130″ Stephens Tapestry Studio, Johannesburg. (Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, New York)
Tori Kleinert, Hidden Semblance, 2004
Tori Kleinert, Hidden Semblance, 2004

The New Art of the Loom consists of contemporary tapestries that connect with the large, ambitious, narrative works that dominated artistic production in early Modern Europe. These early tapestries functioned as a decorative way to display a coat of arms, relay a familiar story or to illustrate scenes of victorious battles, but they also provided warmth, covering the walls of large drafty castles. After falling out of favor due to growing feminine and domestic undertones the tapestry was revived by British art activist William Morris in the late 19th century, making weaving fundamental to a burgeoning international design movement that promoted artisanship and hand-made activity.

Looming Local takes a peek at the immediate surroundings of the museum to show how four artists are exploring similar issues as their international counterparts and taking the weaving tradition into the more creative, expressionistic contemporary art form that it is today. Both exhibits combined communicate a broad range of materials, methods and multiple weaving processes. The four artists represented in the local show, though rooted in a loom based practice, are markedly different from their peers in technique and composition.

Spring on the Mountain, 2008, 30 x 62" Courtesy of the artist and Craft(s) Gallery, Louisville, KY
Dobree Adams, Spring on the Mountain, 2008, 30 x 62″

Dobree Adams creates loom woven works that capture the landscape in a manner intended to evoke the intermediate or transitional states that are associated with Tibetan Buddhism. The spiritual and meditative qualities that imbue her work connect well with other artists on show in the museum who deal similarly with nature, particularly with the tapestry “Without Notice” by the Japanese artist Miyuki Tatsumi. Adams and Tatsumi are both drawn to the calmness of nature, but also to its power to change and dominate our lives in mysterious ways and without warning.

Miyuki Tatsumi, Without Notice, 2008 8'3" x 3'10"
Miyuki Tatsumi, Without Notice, 2008
8’3″ x 3’10”

Tori Kleinert’s small format works, though diminutive in size, are big in meaning and content. They pack in loads of bold color and act as deeply personal explorations of ideas and emotions often connected to the history of female craft activity. She refers to the figures in her work as ancestors or semblances, an evocation of the spirits who live on informing the work of contemporary tapestry artists from around the world. Kleinert’s Terroristic Semblance from 2003/2004 commemorates the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001.

Tori Kleinert, Terroristic Semblance: Destruction of the Fold, 2003/2004
Tori Kleinert, Terroristic Semblance: Destruction of the Fold, 2003/2004

A sharp use of color adds intensity to her subject matter and relates to New Art of the Loom artist Christine Altona’s work, also from 2004. Based on an article in the Boston Globe about alleged child abuse, Altona created this particular tapestry as a tribute to the children who have been abused in the Roman Catholic Church. Several red cardinal hats are placed at the top of the work above a knotted red circle, suggesting the strong and powerful looking down on the weak bound together in struggle. The blue represents the earth and the prevalence of this transgression around the world.

Christine Altona, Hallelujah-Boston Globe, 2004, 7'8" x 7'3"
Christine Altona,
Hallelujah-Boston Globe, 2004, 7’8″ x 7’3″

Arturo Sandoval is an art professor at the University of Kentucky and a well-known weaver from the region. His sole work in the show is part of a long running series that looks at American democracy and one of the most potent symbols of our culture, the American flag. Sandoval conceived the State of the Union series in order to work through personal issues related to his time serving in the Vietnam War. His desire to create a political art series was to commemorate the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who lost their lives in battle. The newspaper headlines and magazine images that are woven into this series were initially collected from 1980-1984. He has since continued the series as way to further express his feelings toward the recent war in Iraq.

Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, State of the Union No. 5: Baptism by Fire, 1984,  41” x 47”
Arturo Alonzo Sandoval,
State of the Union No. 5: Baptism by Fire, 1984, 41” x 47”

The most divergent work away from any form of traditional tapestry seen in either the local or international exhibit comes from Looming Local artist Philis Alvic from Lexington, KY. Her recent work consists of assembling remnants of older tapestries into fabric constructions, which she refers to as Portals. In this ongoing series of works, suggestive of windows, doors, and curtains, she intends to communicate the ideas of transition, passage, and change. Through the technique of fabric collage and drapery these works move into the more three-dimensional space of wall sculpture.

As Alvic digs through her own personal archive incorporating material from previous work she evokes the idea of the artist entering a metaphorical portal, passing from one era of creativity and production into another. In this particular series of works Alvic is weaving together remnants as well as personal histories. There are a number of transitional concepts related to creative growth and change that could be applied to this series. The idea of the portal as a signifier for moving from one period of life into another is an important factor in the life of every artist. It can often be a struggle to shift focus and enter new unknown territory, but it can also be a time when an individual artist develops greater clarity and confidence in their work.

Philis Alvic, Dark Entry, 2013 74” x 52”
Philis Alvic,
Dark Entry, 2013
74” x 52”
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