Costume design by Mariel Reynolds — a 2016 Inspiration Grant recipient.

Inspiration Grants from the ArtsKC Fund are an investment in human capital, providing direct support to individual artists and arts professionals for projects and activities that have the potential to advance their careers and build their capacity for future work.

For resources and upcoming deadlines, please see Inspiration Resources.

Current Inspiration Grant Recipients

Congratulations to the 22 artists below who received ArtsKC Inspiration Grant funding in 2016-2017:

Round 1

Adrienne Walker Hoard, Berlin Biennale Photography Workshops ($1,200)

adrienneWallkerThis Inspiration Grant funds visual artist Adrienne Walker Hoard to attend the 4th Annual Berlin Biennale for Fine Art and Documentary Photography, where one of her photos has been recognized as a finalist for the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards for international women photographers. While in Berlin, Ms. Hoard will attend workshops offered by two master photographers, attend lectures and have her photography portfolios reviewed. Attending this event will further her career through study of the practices of some of the best photographers in the world, and will provide the opportunity to make valuable international connections.

Cheryl Eve Acosta, GIA Comprehensive CAD/CAM Certificate ($1,200)

AcostaThis Inspiration Grant will fund Cheryl Eve Acosta to take an eight-week certificate course at the Gemology Institute of America GIA in New York City to learn the use of CAD/CAM software for jewelry designers.  With extensive opportunities for hands-on classroom instruction and practical application, the course will provide the skills and experience necessary to adopt new methods of design and production to expand the range of her work and offer a new line of affordable jewelry. The Inspiration Grant funding will help pay for part of the GIA CAD/CAM software license, travel, shipping costs of tools, and other expenses related to the experience.

David Wayne Reed, Shelf Life ($1,500)

934731_935435249905876_6910671733935843558_nDavid Wayne Reed is a writer and storyteller.  His new project Shelf Life is a bi-monthly live storytelling event featuring an array of unique objects from the region and the stories behind them. Shelf Life is a new take on the show-and-tell concept that focuses on the stories of our belongings, to demonstrate the power of storytelling in increasing the value of our objects. The Inspiration Grant funding will seed the launch of Shelf Life, with the goal of becoming sustainable and then expanding to online platforms and beyond.

Erin Zona, SGCI Conference Attendance and Research Completion ($1,200)

erinErin Zona is the founder of Zz School of Printmaking, an informal educational initiative that aims to create opportunities for artists and educators and to expand the role of printmaking in the visual arts. Erin Zona will chair a panel at the Southern Graphics Council International based on recent research about L. Frank Baum and his early printmaking career.  Inspiration Grant funding will support the completion of the research for the paper and cover travel expenses and conference fees.

Hillary Sametz, CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding and Community Music Program ($1,800)

Hillary Sametz, a performing musician currently studying to be a music therapist, will attend CONTACT, a two-week peace-building and community music healing training program run jointly by the SIT Graduate Institute, and Musicians Without Borders (MWB). The program develops skills in musicianship, leadership, verbal/non-verbal communication, and nonviolence. The Inspiration Grant funding will be used to attend the CONTACT Program at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, to host a community music training session in Kansas City for music therapists, music educators, and other community healers, and to host a community music healing event in Kansas City.

Ashley Miller, Echosis – An Opera for Stage and Screens ($1,000)

Echosis is a new feature length operatic work, composed by J. Ashley Miller and performed by the Atemporchestra in late 2016. This production will use the Narcissus mythos as a framework to explore contemporary cultural practices of self-love, self-lust, and the internalization of the muse. The live production will be staged in the Heim building in Kansas City’s East Bottoms and will be filmed to create a feature length “live” film. The Inspiration Grant Funding would go directly towards the technology required to generate the real-time 3D version of Narcisuss, an HD facial recognition camera, facial tracking software, and a dedicated computer to run the system.

Jon Brick, Mother In Charge: A Documentary Feature Film ($2,000)

“Mother In Charge” is a feature documentary film about a Kansas City mother, struck by the tragedy of her son’s murder, that takes a stand against homicide and gun violence.  Rosilyn Temple, devastated by the loss, changed her life and began a personal search for justice that has become a calling that could transform cities nationwide.  Rosilyn’s emotional work with families of other victims of violence fills a dire need, bridging a terrible gap between police and the community. Through this film Jon Brick shows how one woman is making a difference by bringing people together and changing lives.  The Inspiration Grant Funds will be used for expenses for phase one of the overall cost of the documentary film.

Kim Eichler-Messmer, Natural Dye Workshop ($1,200)

Kim Eichler-Messmer, Associate Professor of Fiber at the Kansas City Art Institute, has been dyeing fabric as part of her studio practice for over 15 years.  To expand her dye knowledge into a new area she will attend a 5-day workshop on natural dyes, taught by Michel Garcia, at the Textile Center of Minnesota.  Garcia, a botanist, chemist, dyer, and naturalist, is one of the leading dye experts in the world. The Inspiration Grant funds will cover travel costs to attend the workshop, a membership fee to the Textile Center of Minnesota, and workshop supplies. Kim plans to share the new techniques that she learns in the workshop with her students at KCAI and at the Kansas City Textile Studio.

Marcie Miller Gross, GlogauAIR Residency in Berlin and Research in Stockholm & Copenhagen ($1,000)

Marcie Miller Gross, a full-time artist of over 25 years, plans to travel to Berlin for a two month artist residency at the GlogauAIR residency in Kreuzberg to share dialogue and stimulus while working in the Berlin contemporary art scene. The Inspiration Grant Funding will be used for travel to and from Berlin, studio fees and meals for the GlogauAIR residency, and travel by train for additional research to see an industrial felt mill in Bamberg, and the work of specific artists, architects and collections in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Mariel Reynolds, Fugue ($700)

Mariel Reynolds’ circus film project, Fugue, is a contemporary version of the Cinderella story that explores finding personal strength through adversity, challenges antiquated fairy tale romantic ideals, and examines the facades put up by people in the pursuit of acceptance and admiration.  The Inspiration Grant Funds will go specifically towards costuming needs for the project.  The costume design calls for opulent, detailed, couture-style circus pieces which require extra labor and materials, and the Inspiration funds will be focused on the needs of the Ball scene, where all characters will be in lavish, extravagant costumes.

Miki Baird, Art Omi International Residency Program ($1,200)

Miki Baird will attend the Art Omi International Artist Residency in Ghent, NY, where she will continue to examine the fragmented remains of one source of unsolicited mail, specifically four and a half years of her parents’ junk mail.  Referencing the fundamentals of her practice she will re-evaluate  the deconstruction and re-organization of broken down material resulting in an endowment of re-contextualized information. While in residency she will focus on enhanced methods of material deconstruction and application relevant to this body of work. Inspiration Grant Funds will assist with travel and print expenditures for the residency.  This is an important opportunity to work in a culturally diverse environment while connecting to critics, curators and gallerists.
Rachelle Gardner-Roe, Femin Is: Portrait of Kansas City Feminism Then and Now ($1,000)

Femin • Is will be an equal part local history project, part contemporary examination, and part visual exhibition. The Inspiration Grant Funding will enable Rachelle Gardner-Roe to interview artists and activists engaged with the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970’s in the Kansas City area as well as contemporary artists working with an evolving definition of feminism. This process will culminate in an exhibition of collaborative portraits, envisioned for Women’s History Month in March of 2017. 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 an often charged aspect of our culture.

Round 2

Jake Balcolm, “Machining Skill Development for Public Art Sculptures”

The overall scope of this project involves five main phases, focused on developing a modular style to create large Public Art Sculptures with integrated, LED lighting. Phase One develops a system to design and create large, modular, dynamic public art sculptures. Phase Two, and the purpose of this grant application, is to refine the fabrication of these mechanical connections by purchasing, installing, and learning to use, a Smithy 3-in-1 Engine Lathe/Mill. This Inspiration Grant would be used specifically for the purchase of and training on a Smithy Granite Engine Lathe/Mill.

Jacob Burmood, ”Bronze Fabric”

This Inspiration Grant will fund Mr. Burmood’s research in the area of casting draped cloth into bronze. He has already cast several projects in aluminum, which is cheaper but has defects that casting in bronze does not have. While bronze is more expensive, it works much better and is critical to the success of this project. The grant funds would be used to purchase 300 pounds of bronze to cast three sculptures.

Maura Garcia, “Working Culture”

Working Culture is a dual-location project and the first stage takes place in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada, in the form of an investigative residency. From November 26 – December 6, 2016, Raven Spirit Dance Society of Vancouver is hosting a series of Movement Culture workshops with Maori choreographer, Charles Koreneho.  Ms. Garcia’s investigative residency in Vancouver consists of researching Raven Spirit Dance Society’s operating protocol and attending Koreneho’s dance workshops. Upon her return, she will share her investigations via free community events: a presentation-style workshop and a movement-based workshop. She plans to use the Inspiration Grant to cover expenses associated with her investigative residency.  Specifically, this Inspiration Grant would be used to finance: airfare to and from Vancouver; round-trip travel between lodgings and the Vancouver airport; per-Diem while in Vancouver; her professional time while in Vancouver.

Z. Hall, “Salon~360”

Dr. Z Hall, scholar, art writer, artist, curator, and Producer of “Salon~360” – Hall’s project involves producing three, two-hour Salon~360 events within the next five-month period. The events are designed around themes that address society’s most pressing issues. Hall curates art, performances, presentations, and dialogue around each themed event. A question is posed in relation to the theme of the event. Last year’s themes included: forgiveness, suicide and fear, among others. Salon~360 events are produced around a theme drawn from challenges faced by society. Her Inspiration Grant will be used for the purchase of video and sound hardware and software to be used in the service of producing itinerant Salon~360 events. Salon~360 public Facebook group –

Mark Lauer, “Mark Lauer: Muses and Mavericks”

Muses and Mavericks is a recording project featuring bassoonist Mark Lauer performing five new works written by Kansas City composers. These five composers will be commissioned to write a work for solo bassoon, bassoon and piano, bassoon and clarinet, and bassoon with narrator. The intended use of this album is to reach out to wider audiences for both Mr. Lauer and all other composers involved. This Inspiration Grant will be used to defray a large portion of the expenses associated with recording, producing, and manufacturing this CD, as well as compensating those involved with this collaboration.

Cat Mahari, BAM! the Workshop

BAM! the Workshop, inspired by Ida B Wells, is an immersive interdisciplinary arts community event in Kansas City, MO. This project is a major development in Cat Mahari’s professional career focusing on connectivity between sociopolitical and aesthetic production. BAM!’s structure centers urban contemporary paradigms and expressions and acts of restorative justice within the context of Black life. The Inspiration Grant funding underwrites a 2016-17 dual arts residency for BAM! the Workshop. Specifically, it covers production costs for research, visual art installation, immersive performance installation, immersive cinema artist Brian Herczog, psychologist and moderator Dr. Bill Johnson.

Sean Mawhirter, “Kansas City tango group Cucharada’s first full-length release with accompanying video single”

Cucharada is a Kansas City-based tango music group. This ensemble has been playing together for almost five years and has developed its repertoire for dance situations (referred to as ‘milongas’) as well as concert performances for strictly listening audiences. Having spent some time adding new material, Cucharada is determined to have this work reflected in an album of exceptionally high-quality music that will be produced in the fall and winter of 2016-17.   In addition to the album, Cucharada intends on having a video made for one of the pieces as a single release. This Inspiration Grant will be used to pay for recording and production costs of both the CD and video.

Molly McLaughlin, “A Beautiful Dying”

A Beautiful Dying is an original musical ceremony by Molly McLaughlin that honors the exquisite and inseparable dance of death and life.  Rather than keeping death hidden away, A Beautiful Dying exposes a spectrum of love and loss through music, so the audience may connect to the sacredness of time.  Music is scored for flute, fiddle, guitar, bass, and voices.  A Beautiful Dying consists of eight songs, two instrumentals, a performance piece, and multiple readings.  This Inspiration Grant would specifically be applied toward paying for musicians, documentation of the project, lighting, and marketing costs.

Calvin Arsenia Scott, Catastrophe the Album

This Inspiration Grant would be used to finalize Catastrophe the album, providing the professional to mix and master the recording to ensure a quality finished product that plays clearly for film, commercial licensing, your car stereo, or any other listening medium. Catastrophe, the album, is a first full length record, presented in a popular music format, featuring sarcastic and catchy lyrics, acoustic instruments like the harp and banjo, and a voice. Catastrophe has been designed to delight a diverse range of listening audiences without compromising the artist’s distinct and personal musical tastes.

Gerry Trilling, “Transformers: Re-Contextualizing Our Contemporary Culture”

Gerry Trilling is an artist participating in a collaborative touring exhibition, Transformers: Re-Contextualizing Our Contemporary Culture. The exhibition will provide exposure in a part of the country where the work has not yet been seen. The travel will provide an opportunity to establish introductions that can further Gerry Trilling’s career with potential collectors and curators and art critics. This Inspiration Grant will cover the cost of building seven crates to ship the work to the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, Melbourne FL and to cover travel expenses to attend the opening.


Past Recipients

2015 Round III Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

ArtsKC 2015 Grant Recipients

Round II Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

Round I Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

2014 Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

2014 Inspiration Grants By Discipline

2013 Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

2013 Inspiration Grants by Discipline

2012 Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

2011 Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

2010 Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.

2007-2009 Inspiration Grant Recipients – Includes grant descriptions.