Artspeak Radio August 2023

Artspeak Radio, Wednesday, noon – 1pm CST, 90.1fm KKFI Kansas City Community Radio, streaming live audio

Producer/host Maria Vasquez Boyd talks with artist Sarah Zapata, author/poet Andrew Michael Johnson, Sean Whalen, & Andrew McIlvane for the Flatfiles & Digitalfiles.

SARAH ZAPATA- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to announce “Sarah Zapata: So the roots be known,” the eighth annual Atrium Project installation. For this year’s commissioned project, New York-based artist Sarah Zapata is creating a large-scale installation that centers local lesbian and feminist histories through her use of color, iconography, and textile techniques. The installation will span a 20 by 20 foot wall in the
museum’s central atrium from August 18, 2023 through July 28, 2024.

In her practice, Zapata explores ideas of identity, community, lineages, counterculture, and histories of resistance. She combines familiar materials—such as acrylic yarn and natural fibers—and traditional textile art forms to express the intersections of her plural identities: the daughter of a Peruvian immigrant; a first generation American born in Texas; and a queer woman raised in an Evangelical household.

In “So the roots be known,” Zapata pays homage to Womontown, a group of primarily queer women who established a revolutionary community in Kansas City in the late 1980s, as well as the national lesbian magazine The Ladder, which was once operated remotely by recognized writer and publisher Barbara Grier in Kansas City.
“Beyond her technical proficiency as an artist in the realm of textiles, Zapata consistently demonstrates intellectual curiosity and generosity towards the communities she works with,” said Kemper Museum Assistant Curator Krista Alba, who curated the exhibition. “Her interest in Womontown offers a unique opportunity to highlight and reframe local queer histories and stories through relationships with contemporary artists working in a national context.”

To inform the work, the artist conducted research at the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC), and drew on her special interest in the use of textiles to both express political protest and solidarity as well as to identify or suppress certain groups throughout history. Zapata’s textile pieces will be draped, suspended, and slumped along the wall, suggesting the many flags,
banners, and quilts collaboratively constructed with the ambition of shaping better futures through solidarity and mutual care.
“One of the most compelling things about operating an archive is that you never know how the materials in your collection will be used,” said Stuart Hinds, curator of special collections & archives at UMKC Libraries. “This project is a perfect example of a completely unexpected albeit totally exciting interpretation of the queer history that lives in the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at UMKC.”

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art 4420 Warwick Blvd. KCMO

ANDREW MICHAEL JOHNSON is an author, poet, and essayist living in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in The Sun, Image, Commonweal, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. He is the author of two books: The Thread and On Earth As It Is. He is the recipient of a Charlotte Street Foundation residency, an Arts KC Inspiration grant, a Vermont Studio Center residency, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
Rocket Grant Project 2022-2023, Closure is Not Justice-Andrew Johnson, Aja Edwin Mujinga, Bryan Sheppard
How do you challenge an entire city’s collective memory? This multi-media installation is an experience intended to interrogate the public memory of the 1988 explosion that killed six Kansas City firefighters, and the 1997 convictions of five innocent people from the nearby Marlborough neighborhood accused of causing the explosion. Closure is Not Justice is an interactive exhibition at a former fire station that invites the public to engage with the public memories surrounding the case and consider the public’s complicity in the wrongful convictions.

SEAN WHALEN, Durwood Intern and artist/poet ANDREW MCILVANE- 2023 Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile 07.07.2023 – 09.23.2023

The H&R Block Artspace at the KCAI presents the 2023 Kansas City Flatfile & Digitalfile, featuring artwork by over 250 regional emerging and established visual artists.

The Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile is a dynamic, interactive, invitational biennial exhibition that has been hosted by the Artspace since 2001. This year’s highly anticipated biennial will feature two-dimensional and time-based artwork by Kansas City visual artists working in painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, photography, textiles, ceramics, glass, mixed media, video, animation, and sound.

The 2023 Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile invites visitors to explore Flatfile cabinets filled with custom-made portfolios containing a diverse range of flat works and view time-based media included in the Digitalfile. 

Salon Walls + Cabinet Walls + Screening Rooms: Selections from the Flatfile & Digitalfile
An ongoing series of installations will feature artists selected by guest curators throughout the exhibition to offer visitors a dynamic and ever-changing experience. Guest curators are artists, educators, art historians, regional emerging curators, arts entrepreneurs, and organizers who have affiliations with artist-run exhibition spaces and other independent, creative endeavors.

In partnership with the Artspace staff, a panel of Community Curators were invited to nominate new artists and collaborate with the Artspace to create new ways of engaging the exhibition, creating opportunities for artists and visitors alike. The 2023 Community Curators include Craig Deppen Auge (Kansas City Public Library), Wolfe Brack (InterUrban ArtHouse), Jackson Daughety (Artspace Block Fellow), Caitlin Horsmon (UMKC), Kimi Kitada (Charlotte Street), Hùng Lê (Artspace Jesse Howard Fellow), Cesar Lopez (Curiouser), and Sally Paul (Troost Gardens).”

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