Kansas City International Airport Commission Underway

As one of the 19 local artists selected for commissions to complement the upcoming Kansas City International Airport, on track to open in March of 2023, Rachelle Gardner-Roe is full-steam ahead on her work, Flyover Country: The Wild Side. This tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the Midwest’s moniker focuses in on the rich world flora and fauna that can be found in our region. The work will consist of three 40 x 60″ textile panels consisting of thread and hand-dyed Shetland sheep blended with alpaca wool, from the family farm, Meadowtree. Once framed behind UV plexiglass, the work will span about 20 feet in one of the Southwest Airlines gates.

The response to the work-in-progress has been positive, with the project rendering make the front page of The KC Star on April 27th! If you have a KC Star subscription, check out the full article.

To continue to see more behind-the-scenes progress, follow the artist on Instgram or Facebook. To see updates of all the artworks in progress, see BuildKCI’s July Art Update.

PORTAL Closing Reception

Show image 2m_Portal_Leedy-Voulkos_Rachelle Gardner-Roe

Come see the final iteration of the textile exhibition PORTAL. It has been changing every week as more elements are added.

Closing Reception: Saturday, November 30th, 3-5PM
Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore Ave., KCMO

Following closely on an exhibition of sculpture, the artist returns to the textile by utilizing the sewing machine as a drawing tool. In PORTAL, Gardner-Roe infuses her method of lace making with a notable addition. Trapped between the threads is a thin layer of hand-dyed wool from the Gardner farm. Following many hundreds of hours of sewing, the resultant riotous color celebrates both beauty and decay and creates a portal into the artist’s memories of a rural upbringing.

This melding of historical handcraft, contemporary textile practice, and Midwestern regionalism will change over time as new elements are added each week, allowing these “memory portals” to change, grow and spread.  In acknowledgement of memory’s mutability, the viewer’s memory of the work may differ from others, as it will be determined by when in time the work is experienced. As circles represent notions of wholeness across cultures, the dome forms contain a multitude of individual fragments, coming together to make a perhaps imperfect, yet complete whole.

Memory Portal No. 1_m_Rachelle Gardner-Roe
Portal No. 1 / Thread, hand-dyed wool, silk on sculpted foam / 28 x 38.5 x 6″


Show image 3m_Portal_Leedy-Voulkos_Rachelle Gardner-Roe





Exhibition Opening Party
Saturday, June 8th 5-10 PM

The Bunker Center for the Arts


Paisley Armor: Feel Like A Boss


Rachelle Gardner-Roe continues her non-traditional explorations of lace in the exhibition, A Certain Kind of Armor. Using 3D printing pens to preserve the core acts of drawing and writing, Gardner-Roe references shield and body forms that allude to systems of protection through layers of metal and patinas, yet deny a literal translation. The open lacelike network of this body of sculpture begs the question, “What is being protected?”

Can we protect the childlike exuberance with which we first picked up a crayon? What do we each use to shield ourselves from the vagaries of the world? What psychological armor do you carry with you or perhaps even physically don when you engage the outside world? What resides within you that needs protection?

A CERTAIN KIND OF ARMOR will be up through June 29th.
The Bunker Center for the Arts
is open Thurs – Sat 12 – 6 p.m.
and by appointment at 816-866-8350
1014 East 19th Street KCMO Google Map

p.s. For ongoing, in-process studio images of this work, follow me on Instagram, and view my Instagram story Behind The Armor.

Sculpture in Open Spaces Performance

In my first collaboration with a dancer / choreographer, I couldn’t be luckier to work the amazing Maura Garcia. The fact that another collaborator is a stellar musician I’ve been following for years, Amada Espinoza, is just icing on the cake. We’re all coming together for a work commissioned by Open Spaces, a nine-week city-wide arts extravaganza, headquartered in Swope Park.

I’ve made sculpture which will be part of the performance, Uncle Jimmy’s Table.  Intention, thought and form all coalesced in the creation of this sculptre. In short, all the work is literally consists of the written phrase, “Everything is connected.” First written by hand, then scanned and copied / mirrored / radiated, the final digital composition is laser-cut out of felt and fabric. The resulting lace-like text is then combined with different resins using forms to create the final sculpted branches and a vessel form. Taking direction from Maura Garcia, the colors used for the branches represent cardinal directions according to Cherokee tradition and the myriad of greens of the vessel represent a centering and new beginnings.

Detail of sculptural vessel created for Uncle Jimmy’s Table

Blurring the divide between language and form is an increasingly fruitful vein to mine in my varied work with lace. The work of Uncle Jimmy’s Table represents a new methodology for my sculpture in the coming years.

Here is poet / writer Anne Gaschet’s breakdown of the dance:

9/15 Maura Garcia Dance’s Uncle Jimmy’s Table, performance on the Village stage

Maura Garcia Dance offers performances featuring choreographic works of Artistic Director Maura Garcia (non-enrolled Cherokee/Mattamuskeet) and collaborating artists. Garcia’s new work,Uncle Jimmy’s Table, will premiere on the Open Spaces Village Stage on Sept. 15 and 16 at 2 p.m. The work expands on her longtime commitment to themes of connectedness. The practice and teaching that characterize Maura Garcia Dance focus on Indigenous traditions, ancestry and a sense of community with both the natural world and other human beings.

Uncle Jimmy’s Table, a deeply collaborative production, will also exhibit a rich connection to our local artistic community. Kansas City visual artist Rachelle Gardner-Roe has created pieces for the set that are literally made from fabric cutouts of the words, “Everything is Connected.” Gardner-Roe, who has worked extensively with incorporating text in her graphic and sculptural art, adds a material connection with writing and language to the staging of Uncle Jimmy’s Table. Andean musician Amado Espinoza will bring his renowned musical vitality to the stage with music inspired by indigenous culture and the natural elements, themes central to the artistic vision inspired by Maura Garcia Dance. With Uncle Jimmy’s Table, Garcia weaves these and numerous other local talents into a one-hour celebration of community and connectedness through time and space. This free performance will take place on the Open Spaces Village stage in Swope Park at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept. 16.

Musings on Femin • Is

The journey is not yet complete and new paths may still emerge, but November marks the eighth month since the Femin • Is project debuted, so it seems a good time to take a look back, even as I look forward in seeking a venue for the project for Women’s History Month in 2018.

Firstly, what am I talking about? What is Femin • Is? Well, there are two parts to that answer. Femin • Is  consists of a series of audio interviews as well as a series of portraits featuring the subjects of those interviews. I was looking for self-identifying women artists who had spent a significant part of their life in Kansas City, since around the 1960s. I wanted to hear from these women on what feminism looked like in our local arts scene from a historical perspective. Why? It’s relatively easy to find out what was going on in national hotspots during the era of radical feminism of the 1970s, but what was going on here in the Midwest? The national feminist art scene had Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro leading the way, but who did we have here?

Judy Chicago’s seminal and monumental work “The Dinner Party,” installed in what is functionally its own enclosed temple at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at The Brooklyn Museum, NY. I got the chance to experience it in 2016 and was simply left in awe of the scale and detail of the work.

Did feminism in the arts scene look different in Kansas City? And for comparison, what are some examples of feminism in the arts scene today? My initial research came up short. My response to this frustration was, “Well, if this isn’t easy to find, then make it easy to find.” The seed for Femin • Is germinated then and there.

I am a visual artist, first and foremost, so while it certainly imposed limitations on the scope of the project, it was necessary for me to tie this research to my own work. Therefore, the portrait component of the project was key. I say that this imposed a limit on the project, as there is only so many portraits I could create in a finite period, so there are many, many more women who could have easily justified inclusion. In the end, I narrowed it down to a baker’s dozen, thirteen portraits, 18 women in total.

Portraits of individuals include:
Philomene Bennett
Shea Gordon
Cyncha Jeansonne
Elisabeth Kirsch
Janet Kuemmerlein
Jennifer Lapke Pfeifer – Rightfully Sewn
Ke-Sook Lee
Linda Lighton
Paula Rose
Rosy’s Bar & Grill – Joyce Downing, Linda Kay Davis, Carol Smith, Tamara Severns
The Wild Women of Kansas City – Geneva Price, Millie Edwards Nottingham, Lori             Tucker
Gloria Vando Hickok

I asked each women I interviewed to provide me with some kind of written text that held significance in her life, either personally or historically. Poetry, historical fiction, phrases, song lyrics, philosophical treatises — all these I received and translated into portraits by writing and layering the text to create an image. I’d had a bit of practice at this from a series of self-portraits and a public project on the KC Streetcar line.

figurative portrait using layers of cursive writing. The human figure fades in and out with the writing.
Reading Between Lines │Ink on paper │ Text: Streaming consciousness │ 49.5 x 36″ │ 2014

I See You │Art in the Loop: Connect │ Power & Light KC Streetcar Stop │ 70sf │ 2016

Yet, there was more than one catalyst for this project. I had just come back from New York where I had been commissioned by the oldest feminist gallery in New York, A.I.R. Gallery, to create sculptures to be used as awards to honor feminists. I simply loved that my work was being used to honor other women. I also love podcasts and had an itch to start one of my own.

Lastly, I had a conversation with a younger women that left me flabbergasted, a ridiculous word, yet accurate, in this case. She claimed she wasn’t a feminist. I replied, “You don’t think you should have the same rights as a man?” Immediately, she responded, “Oh, of course I should,” but to her, feminism meant that oft-repeated term — man-hating.  That the definition of feminism is, literally, the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes, was simply not in her worldview, or at least, in her mind’s dictionary. Really, though, I should thank her. My exasperation led to a need to do something, in my own way, through my work.

So, I received an Inspiration Grant from The ArtsKC Regional Arts Council to record and release the interviews through a podcast I created called KC Art Pie (which will hopefully be the umbrella platform for future seasons of arts-related content).  Each of the interviews gave me clues about how to create their unique portrait.

image of brick wall with row of hung artworks
Femin • Is exhibition in the Crossroads Arts District – July 2017

exhibition of artwork with an audience looking on during an artist's talk
Artist Talk at the opening reception of Femin • Is at The Writers Place

The exhibition of portraits debuted in July at Counter Point in the Crossroads Arts District and continued in September at The Writers Place, which was quite fitting, as the work was literally literary and the co-founder of the institution, Gloria Vando Hickok, was a participant in the project.

As of this article, ten of the thirteen interviews have been released on KC Art Pie. Each of the women expressed their own kind of feminism and its been an honor to talk to each and every one of them, from the quiet feminism found in Ke-Sook Lee’s textile work, influenced by experiences of war, the life of a stay-at-home mother and the passing down of handcraft from generation to generation, to the directness of Linda Lighton’s ceramic sculpture, reflective of coming of age during the peak of the sexual revolution, yet straining under the constraints of a family’s expectations of a what a “good girl” should be.

I learned that national figures of feminism did touch our local scene. Feminist icon Miriam Schapiro juried the first all women exhibition in the region in 1977, as remembered by writer and curator Elisabeth Kirsch, who, as a student, served as the assistant to Schapiro. Honestly, there are too many stories to relate here and that is exactly what the podcast is for!

So, to close out, I’ll share some of the portraits from the Femin • Is series, along with the text that each subject chose (click on a portrait to hear the interview). This was a way to learn more about the thoughts and ideas important to them and to use those values as an expression of identity, rather than photographic likeness. We can’t always control what we look like on the outside, but we can control what we value and treasure. That is what I wanted to express in the portrayal of the identity of these amazing individuals.


Femin • Is Elisabeth Kirsch│ Ink on panel │ Text: “Awakening Loving-Kindness by Pema Chödrön │ 24 x 18” │ 2017

Femin • Is Arzie Umali │ Ink on paper │Text:Text: “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?” by Linda Nochlin │ 12 x 9” │ 2017

Femin • Is Janet Kuemmerlein │Ink on canvas │Text: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
│ 36 x 36″” │ 2017

Femin • Is Rosy’s Bar & Grill │India ink on canvas│Text (from left to right):
Joyce Downing: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
Carol King: “Ella’s Song”, composed by Bernice Johnson Reagon
Linda Kay Davis: “No More Slavery”, composed by Ed Sanders of The Fugs
Tamara Severns: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Background Text: “Bread and Roses” by James Oppenheim

artwork of silhouette of seated figure
Femin • Is Cyncha Jeansonne │ Ink on paper │Text: One Thousand White Women: the Journals of May Dodd (fiction)│ 17 x 12.75” │ 2017

Femin • Is Paula Rose │Ink on panel │Text: “If I Were a Man” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman │ 16 x 20” │ 2017

 Femin • Is The Wild Women of Kansas City │Ink on paper │Text: (from left to right)
Millie Edwards Nottingham: “We Shall Overcome”
Geneva Price: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” – Quote by Maya Angelou
Lori Tucker: “With God, all things are possible.”
Radiating Text: Excerpts from Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
│ 22.75 x 34.75”” │ 2017

Femin • Is Gloria Vando Hickok │India ink on paper │Text: The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser │ 22.75 x 34.75” │ 2017

Femin • Is Exhibition Opening

Facebook Event

Opening on July First Friday at Counter Point in the Crossroads Arts District, this exhibition presents the visual component of Rachelle Gardner-Roe’s year-long Femin • Is project. This salon-style series of portraits is derived from a series of interviews that Gardner-Roe continues to publish on the KC Art Pie podcast (www.kcartpie.com) of creative self-identifying women. Each participant collaborated to create their portrait by selecting a text of personal or historical significance. Through writing, Gardner-Roe used the submitted poetry, essays, mantras, and more to create imagery reflecting portraiture conceived not of photographic likeness, but rather, an expression of identity through values and ideas.

This process allowed the Gardner-Roe to further learn, beyond the direct interviews, what inspired and influenced the women who came before her as well as those working alongside her. The goal is to present a body of work that dives beyond the superficial and aspires to this: May we be defined by that which we hold dear and hold to be true.

Portraits of individuals include:
Shea Gordon Festof
Elisabeth Kirsch
Janet Kuemmerlein
Jennifer Lapke Pfeifer – Rightfully Sewn
Linda Lighton
Paula Rose
Rosy’s Bar & Grill – Joyce Downing, Linda Kay Davis, Carol Smith, Tamara Severns
The Wild Women of Kansas City – Geneva Price, Millie Edwards Nottingham, Lori Tucker
Gloria Vando Hickok

This project is supported by an Inspiration Grant from ArtsKC.

Friday July 7th, 6-9pm
Counter Point
1903 Wyandotte St.
Kansas City, MO 64108

Preview Clip of KC Art Pie Podcast

To give you a taste of the pie, below is a clip from my conversation with textile artist and painter Janet Kuemmerlein.

Her career in Kansas City spans decades with monumental fiber installations both in Kansas City and around the world. Her success is a testament to will, perseverance, and an unshakeable confidence that being an artist is serious business. Our conversation took place in her ranch-style home, which is really one sprawling studio, with one room of  artwork flowing into the next. I had a sense of being uniquely immersed in the inner workings of the artist’s mind and life in a way that the rough, industrial spaces of many artist studios rarely, if ever, convey. At once surrounded by past work, a library of influences, works in progress and ephemera untold, the inspiring and delightful warmth of Kuemmerlein’s spirit threads it all together.

I hope you enjoy this clip and I look forward to sharing the full conversation during Women’s History Month of 2017.



Digging The Details – Drawings from Kansas City Women’s Liberation Union Newsletters, Part I

Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

As I tried to capture the flavor of the feminist art scene of Kansas City in the 1970s, my research brought me a batch of newsletters in the Chris Almvig Collection at the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, housed at the LaBudde Department of Special Collections at The University of Misosuri – Kansas City. These publications chronicled the Kansas City chapter of the Women’s Liberation Union, which fired up around 1970 as one of the first local feminists collectives. It took its name from the first such publication, Voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement, spearheaded by Jo Freeman in Chicago, IL, sparked into being by the patriarchal condescension and dismissal of the women’s caucus at the 1967 National Conference of New Politics.

The first national newsletter from which later grassroots versions took inspiration. From http://www.redstockings.org, Women’s Liberation Movement Think Tank & Archive for Action.

This was a time when a woman could be fired from a job for being pregnant. She couldn’t apply for a credit card on her own. Sexual harassment in the workplace wasn’t considered a thing and if you were single, practicing birth control was illegal. As larger organizations took on these broader legal battles, the smaller, grassroots Liberation Unions spoke to the consciousness-raising efforts of the early-to-mid 1970s, declaring that “the personal is political,” and “Sisterhood is powerful.” However, rather than digging deeper into the history, tempting as that is, the following is a delightful tangent — a showcase of the art of the newsletters themselves.

Browsing through the collection, I was quickly struck by the line drawings peppered in between practical guides, poetry, political calls to action, and personal revelations. They were simple, clean, rendered yellow with age, yes, but striking and always expressive. The first newsletter in the collection is an early one, with later covers taking on a more designed quality.

Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

From  September / October 1973 Issue; Used by permission by the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

Many of the drawings were left unattributed, but the primary contributors of these drawings are believed to be by members of the collective, Patt Gateley and Julie King.

From the September / October 1973 Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.


From the September / October 1973 Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.


From the September / October 1973 Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.


From the September / October 1974 Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

By 1974, full illustrations were incorporated into the covers. As the movement hit its stride in the middle of the decade, the publication benefited from a more organized feel, but hand drawings still graced many of its pages. Each issue became centered around an organizing theme that yet included diverse content. One could browse both personal and political essays, learn about an all woman music production company, read poetry, or clip a coupon to receive $50 off your purchase of a car from the first female salesperson at the Chevrolet dealership in town.

Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

From the March / April 1974 Ageism Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.


From the March / April 1974 Ageism Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.


Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.


From the May / June 1974 Aspirations Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.


From the May / June 1974 Aspirations Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

We end on my personal favorite, which is the result of the paper’s transparency, the layered placement drawings on back-to-back pages, and serendipity.  A slightly haunting collaged effect is created by the watermark-like effect of the text on the next page, while the tail end of a butterfly’s wing takes on the appearance of a faint tear on the woman’s face. That this effect was presumably unintentional somehow gives it an added layer of poignancy, as it captures a sense of both beauty and pain, of simplicity and simultaneously complex subtlety.

From the May / June 1974 Aspirations Issue: Used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.

More drawings will be featured in future posts. Until then, if you’d like a bit more on the history of feminist movement of the time, here’s a clip of archival footage (which at times, proves that media bias is nothing new).

And if love your history, here’s a full-length BBC documentary:

That’s your slice of art pie for today. Until we nosh again,

 – Rachelle Gardner-Roe

Introducing KC Art Pie


The breadth of the Kansas City art scene is practically culinary. It is a rich stew, with both satisfyingly palatable and surprising bursts of contrasting flavor. For the art aficionado, it is delicious. Whatever flavor you prefer, Kansas City has a rich arts scene, and like a great meal, it deserves to be shared.

With this in mind, KC Art Pie will launch in March of 2017 as an artist-run podcast featuring the artist of our local creative culture. Season one of the podcast will focus on a specific multimedia project, Femin  Is,  allowing KC Art Pie to develop with a clear focus and then branch out to other projects and topics in the future. So, we will start with a recipe, but eventually, we will be mixing up all sorts of creations with the ingredients on hand (which, incidentally, is how I cook most of the time).

There are many great resources for arts-related content in Kansas City. The KC Art Pie podcast is simply an addition to the menu. Kansas City has a growing reputation, both nationally and, dare I say, internationally, as a developing hub for the arts. As an artist living here for over a decade, the growth has been clear, but the only way to continue to build our reputation is to keep the conversation growing and introduce more people to this Midwestern art smorgasbord. If all I can offer are a few whispers and appetizers, so be it.

Bon Appétit,
Rachelle Gardner-Roe


FeminIs  and KC Art Pie is made possible through the ArtsKC Regional Arts Council.

artskc-logo-1000x450 (2)



Project Launch of FEMIN • IS

In the spring of 2017, KC Art Pie will launch as an arts podcast for the Kansas City scene with the debut of the season one project, Femin Is: Portrait of Kansas City Feminism Then and Now

Femin • Is will be an equal part local history project, part contemporary examination, and part visual exhibition. The project will be released as season one of the KC Art Pie podcast, showcasing interviews and oral histories from artists active during the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970’s in the Kansas City area as well as contemporary creatives working with an evolving definition of feminism. The podcast will debut during Women’s History Month, March 2017, with a culminating exhibition of collaborative portraits to follow in the summer. Fusing emotional, political, and theoretical concerns with the artist’s creative process, this project endeavors to capture personal histories and share contemporary perspectives while engaging with an often charged topic in our culture.

The podcast series will connect with a portrait series, which will be based on text that individuals from the interviews select as something historically or personally significant to them. What does that look like? An example can be found on one of the Power & Light KC Streetcar Stop (up through October 2016).


I See You_Detail 1s_GardnerRoe.jpg

Yes, it’s all text! You can view more portraiture in this style here.  Stay tuned in the coming months for the first interview. Sign up to be on the email list here or add http://www.kcartpie.com to your favorite RSS reader.

Finally, I am happy to share that Femin • Is has received an Inspiration Grant from the ArtsKC Regional Arts Council. This will allow the podcast and this website to get off the groud.

For a taste of things to come, listen to this clip featuring local art historian, curator and writer, Elizabeth Kirsch, on a bit of feminist history in the Kansas City art scene.

catcallingcards cropOr  read this  excerpted  interview  with recent
KCAI  grads, Heavenly  Ehrhart and Kiki Serna,
about their thesis project that revolved around
the  behavior of catcalling in the Midtown area.