ARTSPEAK RADIO + Swartz, Pollen, & Boutrous

ARTSPEAK RADIO, Wednesday December 9, 12noon – 1pm CST, 90.1fm KKFI Kansas City Community Radio, streaming live audio

Producer/host Maria Vasquez Boyd welcomes Connie Swartz founder Celebrate Fatigues, artist/educator Jason Pollen, and Christine Boutrous Charlotte Street Foundation Grants and Awards Program Manager.

CONNIE SWARTZ, Founder Celebrate Fatigues; Our Mission is to honor the service of our country’s active military and veterans by providing a respectful and dignified way for veterans and their families to dispose of previously-worn fatigues.
To avoid having fatigues end up in a landfill or be destroyed, we are creating products by recycling the fatigues into artful accessories to remember and honor the men and women who wore them in service to our country. These are the people who have created our American fabric.
Veterans who see fatigues recycled into our products realize their service is not forgotten but rather displayed as a sign of appreciation for our active military and veterans.
Service families and others who buy our products show pride and respect in their veterans and in our country.
US Military personnel wear a variety of uniforms throughout their service based on environment and location. The most casual and most often worn are fatigues also known as battledress. Fatigues are made in a variety of camouflage fabrics for the different branches (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy) and for the different operational environments.
Military uniforms are not typically worn after a soldier “separates from” the military. Former service members may store military uniforms when they are discharged. If the uniforms are not stored, they may be donated to others or to military thrift stores. In some cases, they might be thrown away or destroyed. We estimate there are hundreds of thousands of uniforms in home storage today.
We are gravely concerned about the hundreds of thousands of fatigues that are languishing in home storage and elsewhere that will sooner or later end up in a landfill, thrown away, or burned.
Celebrate Fatigues is intent on helping military families dispose of the uniforms with dignity. We can then recycle and repurpose the fatigues allowing others to remember the service and sacrifice made and honor the men and women who have served in our military.

– Connie Swartz

Fatigues – Most of the fatigues donated to us come from veterans. We also purchase fatigues from Military Thrift Shops.
Design – We design products that best utilize the fatigue fabric, which limits us to the length and width of the back of the jackets/shirts and the length and width of the pant. The tricky part is designing products that work well with sizing and styling variations in uniforms.
Deconstruction – The veterans at St. Andrews Veterans Home help us deconstruct the fatigues to match the design of the products we make. Remaining insignia and reusable parts are removed, and seams carefully cut apart.
Cutting and Sewing – Our sewing contractors use the patterns and instructions made during the design process to cut each piece individually before professionally sewing each product.
Final Product – Our final products go through quality assurance before being photographed, entered into inventory, and posted on the website.

Witness -Retrospective by Jason Pollen
Leedy-Volkous Main Gallery
December 4 – March 6, 2020

​To witness is to have knowledge of an event or change from personal observation or experience.

I have been drawing, painting, collaging, designing, and stitching since I was a child. Elaborate sandcastles were the first source of inspiration. This retrospective is an overview of works created in the past half-century. My art journey has been characterized by experimentation with process and materials, and the search for a compelling communicative visual language. I have often felt as if I were witnessing my hands create something from nothing, then compelled to breathe as much life as possible into whatever shows up.
Jason Pollen received his graduates and undergraduate degrees from the City University of New York. He is an internationally acclaimed arts, designer and educator. He served on the faculties of the Royal College of Art in London, Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute in New York City, and as Professor and Chair of the Fiber Department at the Kansas City Art Institute. He has had numerous solo and group shows in the United States, Europe and Asia. He has designed textiles for dozens of major fashion and home furnishing firms. Pollen collaborated as scenic designer for the Kansas City Ballet. He is currently Professor emeritus of the Kansas City Art Institute, President emeritus of the Surface Design Association, and an American Craft Council Fellow. The Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina honored him with the Outstanding Artist/Educator award in 2012. His most recent exhibition is his “Witness” Retrospective at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City
Jason Pollen retired in 2010 as chair of the fiber department at the Kansas City Art Institute, where I had taught since 1983. He has conducted several workshops a year in the United States and abroad to help artists expand their visual vocabulary and develop a uniquely personal and communicative language. Jason no longer wish to teach processes or techniques; those can be acquired relatively easily. What he is passionate about is mentoring students through the maze of materials and ideas to a path that leads to more fully developed bodies of work.
Leedy-Voulkos Art Center 2012 Baltimore Ave. KCMO

CHRISTINE BOUTROUS- Charlotte Street Foundation Grants and Awards Programs Manager
Let’s all do our part so we can enjoy the art! Love reading? So do we!
Charlotte Street is excited to launch our Artist Reads @CharlotteStreet monthly book club. Each month we have invited an artist to recommend a book that has inspired them, brought them joy or has been pivotal in some way. You will have one month to read the book. Artists will share their relationship and interpretation of the book and facilitate the monthly discussions which will be hosted virtually at the end of 2020.

For December we will read with local writer Jermaine Thompson! He has selected “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison.
Those interested in joining the book discussion should consider the following questions suggested by Jermaine:
1. Song of Solomon is in many ways a text about the power of naming. What bearance do names and naming have on the characters and conflicts in Song of Solomon?
2. What does Song of Solomon want us to understand about inheritance and legacy?
3. There are easily searchable interviews of Toni Morrison in which she says that she writes without consideration of “the white gaze.” Many want to understand this motivation to mean that Morrison builds worlds that are free of the influence of Whiteness. How does this text disrupt that understanding?
4. How does Song of Solomon mimic an epic of Biblical proportions? What is Morrison communicating through this structure?
Want to purchase the book? Support our local bookstore Wise Blood Booksellers, Kansas City’s little bookshop on the corner, selling both new and used books and cultivating a community at 300 Westport Rd since late 2019. Visit them online now at

As we’re unable to meet in person feel free to enjoy your own refreshments as we zoom into your living room. Readers who register will be provided a zoom link before discussion on Wednesday, December 16th at 6:00 PM.
Wise Blood Booksellers is Kansas City’s little bookshop on the corner, selling both new and used books and cultivating a community at 300 Westport Rd since late 2019. Visit them online now at

Jermaine Thompson was born in Louisville, Mississippi. He learned language from big-armed women who greased their skillets with gossip and from full-bellied men who cursed and prayed with the same fervor. He’s been writing poetry since he was 13– inspired by having to memorize Langston Hughes’ “Harlem” for a Black History Program at his church. He has a B.A. in English from Stillman College, an HBCU in Tuscaloosa, AL, and a M.A. in English from Mississippi State University. He moved to Kansas City in August 2015 to complete an MFA in Poetry from the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC). He has publications in The Pinch, Memorious, Whale Road Review, and Southern Indiana Review among others. He currently teaches freshman and junior English at Pembroke Hill Upper School and Black Studies at UMKC. Jermaine is also a board member of The Writers Place—a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the literary community in Kansas City, Missouri.


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