KCAI alums work ĎIn the Momentí for First Fridays
Kansas City Star, November 3, 2010
By Alice Thorson

For her contribution to “In the Moment,” Ke-Sook Lee transformed an Army nurse uniform into a hammock.

Opening Friday at Penn Valley's Carter Art Center, "In the Moment" is a veritable Who's Who of Kansas City Art Institute alumni from the past 20 years.

The exhibit features new work by 19 artists, including rising stars Jaimie Warren, Cody Critcheloe and Ari Fish, ever-innovative veterans such as Ke-Sook Lee, and world traveler Eric Von Robertson.

The exhibit, mounted in celebration of the Art Institute's 125th anniversary, was organized by independent curator Heather Lustfeldt.

It's a perfect fit.

Lustfeldt worked with many of these artists when she was an assistant curator at the school's Block Artspace. She also organized shows of their work for the Charlotte Street Foundation's Urban Culture Project.

She's fired up about the new show.

"It's going to be dynamic, multifaceted, diverse," Lustfeldt said. "I wanted established talents and youth. I wanted a stylistically and conceptually diverse group of alumni."

"It's going to be really atmospheric, very immersive," she said. "There will be several site-oriented installations. James Woodfill is responding directly to the site, working with the anomaly of the fireplace. He loves to blur lines between architecture and art."

Lustfeldt is impressed with the results. She's also smitten with Ke-Sook Lee's piece, say'ng she "has her finger on the pulse. For this piece she deconstructed an Army nurse uniform, shredded it and reconstructed it as a green hammock. She's got embroidery in there and all these elements. Itís so beautiful and intense. It's balanced between this delicacy and strength and being poetic and subversive also."

Lee says she feels the trace of a"wounded soldier in the hammock as well as the nurse's caring hard work. "It's as if the wounded soldier is my own son or daughter," she said, and "I am the nurse."

"Trashy band on a trashy bus, with trashy kids being trashy" is how Cody Critcheloe describes his new video for the band Gossip.

"It's his first big-budget video," Lustfeldt said. "It's very Cody, kind of layered, raucous, fun, youth-culture, club-kid aesthetic. Itís very tight, very well done."

Many of the artists in "In the Moment," including Critcheloe and Lee, have exhibited internationally. Lustfeldt said she wanted artists who have made a mark and are succeeding "in a challenging, yet open-ended global economy."

The peripatetic Robertson is represented by a video taken at the annua' Snow Festival in Sapporo Japan, where artists have proposed an alternative "Sapporo II" exhibit to the festivalís traditional and increasingly commercial snow sculpture display.

Robertson believes that the artist in the 21st century should "interrogate the popular imagination and present new models and images that are compelling." His video captures a project in which artists tie up blocks of snow in colored ribbon and give them away to passers-by.

The exhibit features a first-time collaboration between 2010 Charlotte Street Foundation award winner Ari Fish and well-known sculptor Jesse Small. Titled "125st Birthday Suit," it's a multimedia installation featuring outerwear created by Fish for armatures fabricated by Small, Lustfeldt said.

Lustfeldt coined the phrase "exquisite gnarly" to describe two new pendant wall sculptures by Rachel Hayes.

"Free Energy I" and "Free Energy II" comprise organic metal forms draped with fabric and colored plastic that create rainbow shadows on the walls. (Hayes is concurrently exhibiting a major site-specific installation incorporating colored shadows in the Nerman Museum's "Museum Interrupted" exhibition.)

The talent doesn't stop. "In the Moment" also includes works by Megan Mantia, Eric Sall, Archie Scott Gobber, Audra Brandt, Nathan Mabry, Marcus Cain, Leo Esquivel, Susan White, Seth Johnson, Robert Heishman and Archer Prewitt.

In the Moment
Carter Art Center at MCC-Penn Valley
3201 Southwest Trafficway
Nov. 5-Dec. 4
Reception: 6-9 p.m. Friday
Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; noon-3 p.m. Saturday.

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