Entries Tagged as 'Art'

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

Lawrence Comic Writer Discusses How He ‘Made It’ With Dream Thief

11.20.2013

SotH01Drugs, sex and murder, oh and sleepwalking — that’s just a taste of what’s happening in the new comic Dream Thief. University of Kansas alumni and Lawrence native Jai Nitz teamed up with artist Greg Smallwood to capture our fears about what can happen while we sleep. Nitz, who has done work for Disney, DC Comics and Marvel, has won numerous awards for his comic writing. He transitioned to being a full-time comic writer in 2012. Nitz met Smallwood in 2009 and, the two have been collaborating on the comic since. The first issue of Dream Thief was published by Dark Horse Comics in May and the fifth came out on Sept. 19 . The next issue will be published March 12 and can be pre-ordered online. You can also buy Dream Thief  in Lawrence at Astrokitty Comics & More on 15 E. 7th Street. I sat down with Nitz to discuss Dream Thief.

SotH02NF: When did you get into comics?

JN: My dad worked for the federal government, and we would move to wherever he got a new job. In that time, I read comic books pretty much the whole time. After awhile, I realized this is what I wanted to do – this is a job you can actually have. Real people do this for a living. And that’s when my dad says things like: “I’ve ruined my son’s life because it went from this fun hobby and wanting to be a lawyer to, oh shit, he wants to write comic books.”

NF: How did you get started?

JN: In order to break into comics, you had to publish things. So I self-published my first comic, got a job and thought I made it. But, I didn’t make it. I did the same thing again, got another job, and thought I made it, but again, I didn’t. That went on for almost 10 years.

NF: The comic is about a guy who can’t go to sleep because when he does, things happen that he can’t remember. How did you get that idea?

JN: Sleepwalking has been in entertainment forever, but it’s also fixated in the minds of people forever because we don’t know what happens to us when we go to sleep. What happened if you killed somebody while you were asleep? That frightens the crap out of all of us.

NF: In Dream Thief No. 2, you start introducing gay military porn. Why ?

JN: I read a story on NPR— this was before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed — so it was still taboo to be gay in the military. And basically, you had this guy who was making porn for the gay military crowd. It was really deep niche stuff. It wasn’t just gay porn; it wasn’t just porn for military people. It was gay military porn. I remember hearing that story, and it made me think about it all. Do I care if the guys defending my freedom in Afghanistan are gay? I don’t care, but why does it matter? I couldn’t let the story go. When ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ got repealed, the first thing I asked was, “What’s going to happen to that gay porn director in North Carolina?” That was the first thought I had, I swear to God.

NF: Dream Thief has been getting a lot of great reviews, were you expecting this much success?

JN: I’ve been making comics for awhile, and I’ve never made a comic as good as Dream Thief. So I know what garners good reviews and what doesn’t. I knew Dream Thief was good enough to get a really good critical response and it has.

NF: What’s been the best thing about all the trips for promoting Dream Thief?

JN: People are starting to see Dream Thief rather than just hear about it. And people are coming up to me saying that they’ve read it and they love it. That’s the coolest thing. It’s for people to enjoy my work, and when they do, and tell you, it’s pretty awesome.

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— Nathan Fordyce
Edited by Kaitlyn Klein
This post was provided by University of Kansas Magazine Journalism class.

1.07.2013

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