I'll be traveling next week to Kansas City. I've only ever passed through that part of the country, and not in quite a few years. My first experience with Kansas City and eastern Kansas was way back in the early Nineties, while working on the VisionQuest Wagon Train. We camped out near La Cygne, just over the border from Missouri, for about two weeks. A couple of years after that, I found myself in chilly Xi'an, China, studying woodcut printmaking and paper cutting over the winter months. Over the cold weather holidays I found warm respite for a few days in Hong Kong, where in a bookstore I happened upon a copy of William Least Heat Moon's book PrairyErth, all about Chase County in eastern Kansas. So I read that hefty tome, which some have compared to Moby Dick, while living in a kind of linguistic and social isolation in China, finding in it an American spirit that salved my occasional homesickness.
Years later Sarah and I took our brand new car (until then the only one we'd ever bought off of a dealer's lot) on a drive across country, to visit family on the West Coast. We made it a point to go through KC, eastern Kansas, and Chase County.
This time I'm back as a visiting artist, to share with students what I know and how I work, and to hear from them about their ideas and experiences in art making, social action, and the state of world. Of course, in keeping with my interests in place-making, and the particularities of the Kansas City area, I will be keen on detecting how (if at all) the place in which they live, work, and learn shapes their perspectives on all that.
I'll be speaking at 7 PM on Thursday, March 4, in the Epperson Auditorium of the Kansas City Art Institute.