Category Archives: Artist in Residence

From Start to Finish: How A KMAC Artist Residency Works

By Liz Richter, KMAC Art Educator

This spring, we had the pleasure of working with Coleridge-Taylor Montessori, one of two Montessori’s in JCPS, as a part of our scholastic artist in residency program here at KMAC. We collaborated with CTM Principal Yvette Stockwell and PTA member Kate Kolb to create a custom residency package with 4th and 5th grade students.  They expressed the vision to create something really memorable and impactful for the students.  From the time that I walked into the school, I had my eye on the big, empty brick walls that framed the entrance of the lobby.  I started researching collaborative clay mural techniques that worked well with elementary students and started sketching a “free form”mosaic approach, where hand-built circle shapes would make up the image.   After consulting with the PTA and principal, we chose a design inspired by their school logo, of a world surrounded by student portraits, and the words “Coleridge-Taylor Montessori.”

Over 175 students in 4-5th grade created a mural piece and coil pot and glazed both.  We started by learning about clay and discussing the process of ceramics. One class made coils on slabs, which formed all of the letters, another class made tile portraits, and five classes made the world pieces.  We decided on circle shapes for the water and leaf shapes for the earth.  Their art room, which was a communal space this year, was a dusty, happy mess (don’t worry, we cleaned it up!).  Some students had never used clay before, and were fascinated with the way the “texture tools” (odds and ends ranging from beads, to buttons, to small plastic sea creatures) created interesting embellishments to their tiles.

I purchased a nice variety of beautiful blues and greens for the land and water to create some variety in the design, and delegated colors to each table of students so that the variety was consistent.  Some students even created little extra texture shapes for us to use as filler.  With the help from Kate from the PTA, we were able to complete our projects in three sessions.  After the students had also made their coil pots and glazed them with their favorite colors, we packed up all the clay and headed back to the museum to fire them in our kilns.  I promised the students that they would get their beloved pots back as soon as we could, and I heard excited plans like “Mine is going to be a pencil holder!” and “I’m giving mine to my mom!”

Back at the museum, our education staff, volunteers and interns helped me sort, paint clear glaze, scrape and fire over 350 pieces.  Our art handler, Ben Cook cut the large wooden pieces that would become the backing for the mural.  Slowly but surely, the tiles came together to form what I had envisioned in my sketches.   After delivering their pots to the school, we started gluing the mural pieces to the backing.  I got excited seeing the earth shapes finally begin forming and could finally stop worrying about whether my mathematical planning was correct!  After delivering the completed mural to the school, I went back to see it installed.  Parents and students were coming in and out, and many stopped to see the new mural in its prime location.

Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Mural

“This amazing mural reflects our Coleridge-Taylor Montessori spirit of collaboration and individuality.  Each piece was designed and created by an intermediate student.  Thanks to our artist-in-residence and PTA parents for helping to make this possible!” -Principal Yvette Stockwell

KMAC Educator Liz
KMAC Educator Liz Richter serving as Artist in Residence at Coleridge-Taylor Montessori in Louisville.


A Day in the Life of a KMAC Educator

By Heather D’Andrea

Every day is different as a museum educator at KMAC, which always keeps my job exciting and rewarding. On any given day I could be teaching in a classroom as part of our in-depth curriculum program offered to area schools, touring students through the Museums’ exhibitions, instructing a hands-on art project in the Education Studio, facilitating a drop-in art workshop or visiting one of our artist in residence at a school. I get the opportunity to engage with people of all ages through art, which is truly awesome! I thought I would give you all a look into a typical day for me at KMAC:

9:00: Arrive, get settled, check my email and run downstairs to clean up a bit from yesterday’s workshop.

9:15: Museum staff meeting!










9:50: Leave the staff meeting early; the kids will be here in 10 minutes, so I quickly get everything together that I need for my lesson.

10-11:30: Teach 4th graders from Lebanon Elementary about the art in the museum. I always try to get the kids to think critically and creatively when looking at art by prompting them with questions and tasks. I ask them to imagine themselves in the artwork and to talk about their adventures or to listen to the sound of the recorded Matthew Ronay performance and think through how that sound was made with his artwork. I also give the kids the opportunity to draw from the artwork and do a few activities. This always leads to new ideas and great interpretations.















11:30: Leave for one of my artist residencies at The Kentucky School for the Blind. (KMAC sends a professional artist to work in schools for a hands-on art project. This is truly an amazing partnership that has been going strong for years). I arrive every Wednesday and help the teaching artist, Suzy Hatcher, with the largest and youngest class at KSB, the K-3 class. Today we make pinch pot monsters. They are awesome!

1:15: Return to KMAC from KSB and help out at the front desk and shop during lunch shift. Everyone at KMAC pitches in to help out.

2:15: Head to the 3rd floor Education Studio and get prepped to facilitate an art workshop at Humana. Fund for the Arts is providing Humana employees a coffee and art making break session to thank them for their generous donations. These donations help to fund the arts in Louisville, KMAC included.

2:45-3:45: Arrive at Humana headquarters and prepare for a fun art drop-in workshop. Today we are doing a printmaking workshop where  participants will make their own prints from their own custom designed stamp. So fun!

3:50-4:20: Return to the museum, unload my supplies and quickly run to check my email and make a few phone calls.

4:25-5:00: Prep for my printmaking workshop tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. with La Rue County High School and bring up some new clay for our members of ClayWorks for their next month in the studio.


Trees as Public Art

Todd C. Smith has been climbing trees for a very long time and for the past four years he has incorporated this leisure activity into an art practice. During his residency at Bernheim Forest, he constructed a pod shelter out of recycled materials testing the limits on sustainable living. It was placed in one of the trees there and in a perfomative art sort of way, Todd spent the night in the pod to see if it could withstand the elements. Read more about Todd’s nest project.

The director for KMAC, Aldy Milliken, met Todd at Bernheim during his artist talk and invited him to be a part of the exciting changes the museum was undertaking. Through this connection, Todd saw an opportunity and submitted a proposal to be an artist in residence at KMAC.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to develop work in a public atmosphere within the realm of craft. Usually I work outside, so this challenged me to make a piece within the walls of a museum,” Todd said. “When I was climbing daily, I took hundreds of photos from the viewpoint of looking down. I wanted to convey the depth but the 2-d image is limited. I discovered the 3-D camera and felt this would be a great way to bring my experience inside.”

Todd’s end result, Transport 1, (1 for the first work in this series) is installed on the third floor. The simple white box and plain handles seem to blend into the wall with the exception of the black eye viewer protruding from the top. He says, “this was done as to not give any clue to the viewer before they looked into it.” The piece utilizes multiple senses. Sight, being the obvious,  touch-grasping the wooden handles, smell-the scent of the forest is emitted and eventually sound-birds and the open air.

IMG_8307 IMG_7896The 3-D images change weekly, so be sure to stop by and take a look. Todd will be expanding upon this idea, hopefully to incorporate video.