Entries Tagged as 'Art'

Photo Feature: Body Graffiti

5.02.2016

Local artist Zak Blatt (who was featured in our digital edition of Volume 3!) recently undertook a new art project—on the human body. With skin as his canvas, Blatt creates swirling and stunning pieces of graffiti art on models.

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Art by Zak Blatt
Modeled by Sarah Cell
Photography by Abby Liudahl

Lawrence’s Leatherbound Gems

4.27.2015

By Emily Brown

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As I walked through the stacks of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, I inhaled the scent of musty, old books, and I struggled with the urge to trail my fingers across the bindings. I passed books written in foreign languages, some from the early eleventh century and onwards. The books were wrapped in leather and crumbling paper, and some stood taller than the size of a small child. I was book drunk.

The Kenneth Spencer Research library houses the University’s collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives. Built in the 1960s with a donation by Helen Spencer as a memorial to her husband Kenneth Spencer, the library is open to the public and students. The library is the perfect place to indulge one’s curiosity in the sensory experience of old books and manuscripts.

The library has three main collections students can explore: the University Archives, the Kansas Collection and the Special Collections. The University Archives tells the story of KU through department records, administration records, game footage and photographs. The Kansas Collection, covering the territorial period to the present, focuses on everyday people and their experiences in Kansas. The Special Collections covers everything beyond Kansas, from the antiquity to the present.

These collections do not only illustrate history, but the origins of books, too. Many of the older books predate printing, showcasing the beautiful crafting of a handmade book.

“It is kind of surprising and wonderful that anybody, but especially students, can really access some of these things — really amazing things from across the world that you can get to without having to leave campus” says Caitlin Donnelly, head of public services.

Unlike the other libraries on campus, the collection materials remain in the building due to the rarity and delicate condition of some of the objects. You can request to see certain materials in the Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room. The books are kept in the stacks, where only student workers and staff members are allowed.

While students aren’t allowed behind the stacks like I was, they can travel down the North Gallery, where only a glass wall separates the viewers from some of the oldest pieces in the Special Collections.

Ashley Hutchison, a student worker who is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, finds requests in the stacks and brings them to patrons in the reading room. Before handing the pieces over to students, she arranges the items with book supports or book weights, ensuring the artifacts are kept in the best condition possible.

One of her favorite pieces is a first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s personal journals, kept in the Spencer’s vaults with other rare first editions. “It is possibly the greatest thing for my little nerd self,” she says.

Hutchinson encourages students to visit the Spencer library because she believes it is an amazing resource that is not being utilized enough by undergraduate researchers and fellow book lovers.

If a student needs a primary document or original source, the Spencer library is the place to find it. The library owns some of the rarest volumes and materials in the world. The librarians of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library let Style on the Hill in on ten of the library’s hidden gems — pieces that you can see for yourself anytime.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Book of Hours, France (ca. 1470)

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This handmade book of hours was created in France. A book of hours included prayers that people would say at different hours of the day. The Latin text is illustrated with paint and gold leaf and is surrounded by vines, flowers, and birds. “This is one of our real treasures,” says Karen Cook, special collections librarian.

Maps in Ptolemy’s Geographiae manuscript, Italy (printed in 1508)

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Claudius Ptolemy, a genius mathematician and geographer, lived in Alexandria circa AD 100-160. His writing survived in the Middle East, and in the 1300s was brought back to Europe. This particular manuscript, printed in Rome in 1508, includes longitudes and latitudes of different places in the world. At the end of the book, the Europeans were able to reconstruct his maps using those numbers. The map is of the old style — the belief that the world was flat and ended beyond India. While geographers were aware of the existence of the New World in 1508, they did not wish to change Ptolemy’s traditional map.

Fetes Données a Versailles en 1664-1666

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This is a set of more than 40 volumes that record the life of the French Court, a half century or so before the French Revolution. The book includes engraved illustrations that showcase Versailles in all its glory. Ceremonial marches, plays, exotic animals, and fireworks are all displayed on the grounds of the French palace.  “I actually went to Versailles for the first time about five years ago, and this is what it looks like,” says Cook. “I could see how they could turn something like that into a stage.”

Sumerian Cuneiform Tablets (ca 2112-529 BC)

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These tablets date from the beginnings of writing — the type of script people wrote in was called cuneiform. They used sticks with a triangular point at the end to write in wet clay. This collection is mostly everyday, business-related documents. The smaller tablet is a receipt for a dead lamb. Another is a legal record of an execution of two brothers who had killed their father.

Scrapbook of Florence Harkrader

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This is a student’s personal scrapbook; she was at the University from 1916-1919. She helped roll bandages for the American Red Cross during World War I. Her scrapbook also included homemade party invitations, dance cards and sports programs. “I like the student scrapbooks because they are always different. Most of them are from the early 20th century, and there are photographs of the students themselves, programs of plays and athletic events” says Rebecca Schulte, University archives librarian.

John Gould Sketch (ca. 1801)

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These birds, roughly drawn and colored with blues, pinks, and greens, were produced by John Gould. Gould was a London publisher who specialized in books about exotic birds. This is a sketch done by one of his professional artists who did the illustrations for his books. The faint sketches and lines are Gould’s corrections to the illustration. 

Creative outlets for college students

4.23.2015

By Emily Brown

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As I checked into the front desk at the Lawrence Arts Center, a performer with sparkly-grey face makeup and feathers in his hair popped into the office. Upstairs, racks of shiny outfits stood in the hallway as two women used a garment steamer to dewrinkle fabric. The women were putting final touches on glittery costumes — the Lawrence Arts Center’s School of Dance was preparing for an important performance the upcoming weekend. A group of returning potters listened to a faculty member in the ceramics studio, and original art hung on the walls of the visual arts studios.

The community arts center has numerous opportunities for students to learn, perform, and create. Style on the Hill wanted to check out the best options for college students.

The Lawrence Arts Center, one of the top three art centers in the nation, focuses on three things: exhibitions, performance, and education. The building is located downtown, a perfect location for students looking for a hobby outside of their major or for supplemental art education.

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While performances and exhibitions occur regularly, the education part of the arts center permeates the entire building, Margaret Morris, the chief program officer, says.

There are dozens upon dozens of classes for students to try out, and the topics range from printmaking to Irish dance. There are classes for beginners and for more advanced learners.

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Students can take classes in ceramics, digital media and photography, textile arts, drawing and painting, jewelry and metals, paper and book arts and writing. The Lawrence Arts Center School of Dance offers classes in tap, jazz, hip hop, and other dance mediums.

Olivia Hernandez, a KU student majoring in Fine Arts, began working at the Lawrence Arts Center in 2010 as an art model. After modeling for an art class, she saw a sign advertising for volunteers. She started volunteering as a way to give back to the place she loved, and in 2014, she was hired as the dance program coordinator.

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Throughout the years, she has taken numerous classes at the Lawrence Arts Center, including Adult Ballet, Adult Modern dance and Imaginative Drawing. She says the arts center is a great place to receive a diverse range of teaching and instruction.

“If you are lucky enough to have a resource like the arts center, that offers great faculty and great financial aid, to a poor college student, there is nothing better,” she says.

Susan Tate, CEO of the Lawrence Arts Center, says the classes are perfect for students.

“It is not very expensive to take a class at the art center,” she says. “A student who is a business student might not have time in their schedule to take ceramics at KU, but might be able to come here and take ceramics. It is not the same commitment as taking a University class, nor is it the same expense.”

The cost can depend on the length of time the class meets and the medium. Classes can be as cheap as $80 (Adobe Illustrator) or as high as $273 (Ballet VI & VII).

The faculty teaching the classes have Masters Degrees in their area of teaching, and because the Lawrence Arts Center has a partnership with KU, many of KU’s faculty also teach at the arts center.

“What I really like is there is a real quality to the faculty,” Hernandez says. “Everybody has a strong background in what they are teaching. It is really, really enriching.”

The Lawrence Arts Center has numerous other opportunities for students to learn or engage in art. To learn more about what classes are held, or some of the upcoming performances, check out their website at http://lawrenceartscenter.org/.

 

From KU to KC: Girl Friday, Fabric, & Fashion

3.11.2015

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Photos and story by Aleah Milliner

Located at the historic Katz Drugstore building on the corner of Westport Road in Kansas City, vintage enthusiasts and design duo Lyndsey Helling and Lauren Tweedie spend their time dreaming up ideas and inspiration for their clothing line, Girl Friday.

They occupy two spaces out of the studio, a shared building for artists in the community, and have filled the walls with sketches, chalkboard wall quotes – “selling feelings from wall to ceiling “ – fabric samples, magazine cutouts (including a photo of delicious looking doughnuts), and various other materials. Silver and gold tinsel hang from the walls, and their hand painted fabric scraps are tucked away in a corner.

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Upon walking into their space, you get a sense strong sense of creativity and a fun, unique style that translates into Helling and Tweedie’s various clothing collections.

The girls met while working at Donna’s Dress Shop, a vintage clothing shop in Kansas City, MO. They worked together every Friday and bonded over their mutual interests in art and design, and especially of vintage clothing.

“The shapes are really striking. It is so much more unique than modern clothing. Vintage style is really unafraid,” said Tweedie, on why she gravitates toward the style.

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The pair began designing their line in their free time outside of their work at Donna’s. All of their clothing design has been a collaborative effort between the two, stemming from sketches and inspiration in the studio, and resulting in many hours and late nights of sewing.

Girl Friday debuted in June 2014 with a collection of shift dresses, circle skirts, and tunics, all constructed from vintage fabrics. They debuted their third line in September 2014, a dress collection using hand painted fabric, which included an eyeball-patterned dress.

Screenprinting was not an option for their designs, so they turned to hand painting.

“For the eyeball dress we painted yards at a time. Like a football field length of fabric. We just paint all of it, cut it up and assembled it. We wash all of the fabric first, paint it with textile pigment, let it dry, and then heat set the fabric. It is a very time consuming process,” said Tweedie, who worked with textiles in the Art and Design School while attending KU.

Both girls agree that they have grown creatively through designing Girl Friday.

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“I have gotten more confident. I don’t have the best sewing skills but I have learned a lot through this whole process. I jump at making the clothes instead of being hesitant about it,” said Helling.

Helling credits Finnish textile and fashion design company Marimekko as a major influence in her creativity. While her husband was conducting research in Finland, Helling had a lot of free time to explore, and there she discovered the company.

“I have this really amazing Marrimeko book that is so good and so inspiring. It talks about the company’s history, how it started, and how it evolved. I look at that book often for inspiration.”

As for Tweedie, she sparks her creativity through shopping, wandering through antique malls, and visiting The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. She also credits Instagram as a source of inspiration.

Helling and Tweedie are currently spending their time in the studio creating their new line.

The line will be a collection of 1970s Sportswear and will debut at the 18th Street Fashion show in Kansas City June 13th, an event open to the public.

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“We have a friend who can really rock a jumpsuit. We wanted to make a jumpsuit with a hood on it, and we designed it around her,” said Helling.

The newest Girl Friday line will include bold, graphic prints and their first men’s outfit. The collection will be for sale immediately after, however only five outfits will be created.

Looking to the future, the girls hope to be designing full time for Girl Friday and to sell their clothes in as many retail stores as possible.

“I feel honored when anyone expresses interest,” Tweedie said.

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Teach Me To Fly

11.09.2014

By Kristen Polizzi

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Barefoot and bewildered, I hung upside down. My fingers tightly gripped a black, rubber-wrapped hoop that swung haphazardly from a wood-paneled ceiling.

I’d been instructed to move with control: to lift my legs and core off the ground, keeping my shoulders square with the padded mats below, hitching my knees into the hoop, before dropping one leg and the matching hand, allowing them to float fluidly through the air.

I drew a breath in one syllable and let it out in the next. Con-trol. And then I launched. Legs up, crotch to bar, I wrapped myself around the hoop with the speed and fury of a battered tetherball.

Sometime over the summer, I’d spotted the space from whose ceiling I currently swung. In north Lawrence, nestled between Johnny’s Tavern and The Village Witch, sits a stone-front that—having served as a martial arts studio, bicycle recyclery and art gallery infamous for its underage raves—is now home to The Last Carnival, the city’s first and only school for circus arts.

COME ONE, COME ALL

Interested in taking a class at The Last Carnival? Check out TLC’s calendar to find class dates and times. Then register online to save your spot! For questions, contact Sihka.
The circus school presents Spectacle de Cirque, a student showcase, Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Granada. Tickets are $10 on pre-sale and $15 at the door. For more things weird and wild, find The Last Carnival on Facebook.

It was there, in an exhibitionist’s Eden on a block broken by the river, that I enrolled in my first aerial dance class. Introduction to Aerial Arts, a $20, hour-long session and prerequisite for the beginner level course, was meant to teach the basic moves—mounts, descents, foot-locks and climbs—on the aerial silks, aerial hoop and static trapeze. The class was capped at four students, but I’d landed a private lesson.

I met my instructor at the door. Lavender hair framed a friendly face and trailed braided and blue down her back. In the studio she was Sihka and on the stage: Sihka Ann Destroy. Only her parents call her by her given name, which she never did tell me.

“My kids have performance names too,” she said, laughing. “They just happen to be their actual names.”

She spoke excitedly about her son, Wylder Animal, who at age 3 is no stranger to the silks; and her 9-year-old daughter, Willow Lotus, who practices her half flag on parking meters downtown.

Sihka wasn’t raised in three rings. She grew up in Florissant, Mo., a second-ring suburb of St. Louis, and saw aerial silks performed for the first time as a child at a flea market circus in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She hit the road at 18 and after more than a decade of walking, biking and hitchhiking across the country, studying dance and working as a street performer, she settled for the second time in Lawrence where she opened The Last Carnival in January.

I slipped off my sandals and followed her to the studio’s center, where she guided me through a series of stretches—a deep lunge, a deeper lunge. Could I call what came next a split? She assessed me as being “actually pretty flexible,” an appraisal I accepted with caution. I was, after all, intimately aware of the limits of my own athleticism.

“I can’t do that one either,” said Montana Hockenbury, about a stretch that forcedly introduced my elbows to the backs of my knees. The 18-year-old advanced aerial student from Lawrence, whose thin frame I’d seen flitting around the room to Paloma Faith’s “Upside Down,” sunk cross-legged onto the mat beside me.

Hockenbury graduated from Lawrence Free State last spring and has since taken on a new course load: eight acrobatic classes per week split among The Last Carnival and a few studios in Kansas City. She plans to apply to professional circus schools in Montreal and San Francisco. A traveling troupe, she said, would suit her just fine.

After that, it was time to fly.

Sihka demonstrated how to anchor the silks—two pieces of nylon fabric joined at top and suspended from the ceiling—by wrapping them twice around her calf and securing them in a loop under her heel. I followed along and, with my left foot, stepped through the sling I’d just created with my right.

Then came the “egg roll” (see unflattering picture below), which was—at least the way I did it—less of a roll and more of a flip backward into open air. With a silk in each fist, I slowly shifted my weight backward, drawing my left knee toward my chest until I could see out the open door behind me. Sihka, sensing that I might, at any moment, come catapulting into an upright position, held the silks steady as I completed the trick.

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(My extremely graceful foray into the world of aerial arts.)

A few feet away, the purple, padded mats were being parted to accommodate one of two newly polished poles.

Stephanie McIntosh, a Kansas City native and The Last Carnival’s most recent hire, was preparing to teach the school’s first pole fitness class later that night. She spoke softly at first but grew increasingly animated, spewing details of how she—a swimmer and track star with no previous dance experience—had turned pole fitness into a passion and part-time career.

Four years ago, while studying at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, she’d taken her first pole dance class with her sorority sisters; six months later, she was teaching it.

“It’s not something you have to be born into,” she said, echoing the sentiments of nearly every instructor in the studio that day.

Next up: the aerial hoop.

We crossed the mats, weaving in and out among the talents of Sihka’s “bendy students.” A young girl in pigtails and striped tights reclined in mid-air—her spine shaped smoothly to the curve of a steel hoop that swung lazily past a large picture window. Sihka nodded at a nearby silk, a signal the girl must have interpreted as “Clear the area.” Because she dropped deftly to the ground, mounting a silk across the studio.

I flexed my fingers around the hoop’s rubber wrapping, bent my knees and inhaled deeply. My arms started to shake.

 

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Photos by Samantha Darling

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