Kristi Henderson
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

KU team to create sculpture for Fed Bank’s 100th anniversary

Wed, 09/18/2013

LAWRENCE — The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the University of Kansas Department of Visual Art have begun work on producing a sculpture to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Reserve Bank, which was established in 1914. As part of this unique partnership, the sculpture’s production team includes students and faculty from KU and involves the input of employees from the Kansas City Fed.

The Department of Visual Art will offer four classes from now through fall 2014, called “Special Topics in Art: The Federal Reserve Commission,” with the objective of conceiving, designing and executing a sculpture. Matthew Burke, associate professor of visual art, and employees of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City have been planning the project since spring of 2012.

The sculpture will be composed, in part, from items contributed by current and past employees at the bank. Totaling more than 200 objects, from computer parts to deposit bags and binder clips, each item holds a memory associated with the bank. The members of the team at KU have the challenging opportunity to tie all the objects together into a work that will both commemorate the 100-year anniversary and be meaningful for the employees of the bank.

Graduate and undergraduate students from diverse disciplines will be responsible, under Burke’s mentoring, for producing a theme, creating concept models and drawings, presenting these materials to the bank for feedback, and executing and finishing the sculpture.

Students from the first semester represent a broad range of disciplines, from art education and industrial design to fine art. The coursework has the benefit of direct application in the realm of public art and offers students a rare opportunity to author a major commission.

“I feel like everyone else involved in this course; it’s exciting to be part of a unique opportunity in a creative, real-life application project, one with long lasting impact,” said Joe Ralston, a senior in industrial design.

Five students are taking part in the first class of the four-class project: Peter Wolken of Ottawa; Sarah Podrasky of St. Joseph, Mo.; Joe Ralston of Lawrence; Dustin Truitt of Spring Hill; and Joseph Walters of Lenexa. Together with Burke as a team member, they will work throughout the fall to complete a finished series of drawings and models in preparation for the presentation to the bank in early December.

“We are honored the bank is partnering with KU for this commission,” Burke said. “The process of completing this project will be like no other class I’ve taught at KU.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City serves the 10th Federal Reserve District, which includes the states of Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and parts of Missouri and New Mexico. As the regional headquarters of the nation’s central bank, the Kansas City Fed provides financial services to banks and other institutions, supervises financial institutions and conducts monetary policy.

Burke received his Bachelor of Arts from Colby College, Maine, and received his Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Queens College-CUNY, New York. His work is in several major museums and collections, including the Museum of Modern Art Library, the Brooklyn Museum and the Cleveland Institute of Art Library. He teaches classes in sculpture and drawing at KU.

The Department of Visual Art is one of four departments in the KU School of the Arts. As part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

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