Elizabeth Kanost
Spencer Museum of Art

2017 Rocket Grants award $60,000 to 10 local artist projects

Tue, 05/30/2017


LAWRENCE — The 2017 Rocket Grants have awarded a total of $60,000 for 10 local artist projects. Eight projects received Full Project Awards and two received Research & Development Awards. To date, the Rocket Grants program has awarded $392,000 for 81 cross-disciplinary projects involving more than 200 artists.

“For the last eight years the Rocket Grants program has funded artist-driven and artist-centric projects that engage the diversity of cultural communities across the Kansas City region,” said Julia Cole, Rocket Grants program coordinator. “Rocket Grants projects continue to engage the region with experimental forms and ideas, support exciting new directions for artists, and amplify marginal voices.”

Rocket Grants, a partnership of the Charlotte Street Foundation and the Spencer Museum of Art, supports innovative, artist-driven projects outside of established arts venues. Funding for the program is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Award recipients were selected by a panel of visiting jurors: Imani Jacqueline Brown, New Orleans; Alberto Aguilar, Chicago; Tim Hossler, Lawrence; and Jessica Borusky, Kansas City.

This year’s selected projects range widely in medium, from a web series capturing street dance, to mandalas made from heirloom quilts and farm machinery, to a traveling fermented beverage cart offering workshops on art and science. Project topics are equally broad, addressing racial tensions with police, isolation in rural communities, and creative spaces for the LGBTQ community.

A public awards ceremony for this year’s recipients will be 68 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at the Healthy Rivers Partnership in Kansas City’s West Bottoms. Recipients will each give three-minute presentations about their projects. For more information on this year’s Rocket Grants recipients, visit

A complete list of 2016-2017 grantees is as follows:

Full Project Awards ($6,000)
•    Solomon Bass, BLACK & BLUE: A documentary and dialog aimed at building a bridge between black police officers and the black community during this time of racial tension. 

•    Matthew Cottrell (Boi Boi) & Bo Hubbard, Alter: Art Space: A collaborative, multidisciplinary, artist-run space in Kansas City connecting creative disciplines through interactive environments, inclusive invitation and unexpected programming. 

•    Connie Fitzpatrick & Marylin Hinojosa, with Nedra Bonds, Wak'ó Mujeres Phụ nữ Women Mural (Kanza, Spanish, Vietnamese, English): A public mural in Lawrence and a collection of written, audio and video histories about, for and by women of color. 

•    Kendell Harbin, The Roaming Center for Magnetic Alternatives (RCMA): A mobile lending library of VHS tapes and video technologies visiting geographically isolated LGBTQIA populations, with artist-led videography workshops to uncover and tell participants’ own stories. 

•    Brian Hawkins, Asiminier: Folklore of the Missouri French Creoles: A feature-length documentary celebrating Creole history and folkways preserved for 300 years in Missouri, including cut-paper animations of folktales with narration in the original French dialect. 

•    Rodolfo Marron, Paz En El Barrio (Peace In The Hood): A publication preserving and celebrating of the rich Latinx culture within the Westside of Kansas City, released at a special celebration in partnership with the Guadalupe Center. 

•    David Wayne Reed, Eternal Harvest: A short film about the cycle of life, projected on the side of a large, hilltop barn on the Reed family’s rural Kansas farm. 

•    Ryan Tenney, The Art + Agroecology Project: AgroArt: A live-work residency program on a 22-acre organic farm, culminating in a free publication providing remedies for historical land injustices and celebrating the future black imagination. 

Research & Development Awards ($2,000 up front with an option for $4,000 for implementation)

•    Leonard Gayden, This is our scene: A multimedia exploration of street dance, involving a seven-part web series, a mockumentary film and documentation of a KC locals’ performance/battle/jam. 

•    S.E. Nash, Garden Variety Soda Fountain: A sculptural and public engagement project taking the form of a mobile soda fountain, with workshops and activities for all ages about growing, fermentation, art and the civic and political issues raised in the piece. 

For 20 years, the Charlotte Street Foundation has challenged, nurtured, and empowered thousands of artists, distributed over $1.1 million in awards and grants to artists and their innovative projects, and connected individual artists to each other and to the greater Kansas City community. Charlotte Street – with its community of artists – strives to be a primary catalyst in making Kansas City a vibrant, creative metropolis, alive with collaboration, passion, ideas, and surprise.

The Spencer Museum of Art houses an internationally known collection that is deep and diverse, with artworks and artifacts in all media. The collection spans the history of European and American art from ancient to contemporary, and includes broad and significant holdings of East Asian art. Areas of special strength include medieval panel painting and religious sculpture; the Kress Study Collection of early modern Italian painting; 19th-century American art and material culture; old master prints; photography; European, East Asian, and Indian textiles; American Indian pottery, beadwork, and jewelry; African sculpture; Japanese Edo-period prints; and 20th-century Chinese painting. 

Photo: Kansas Citybased artist Ryan Tenney received a Rocket Grant for The Art + Agroecology Project: AgroArt, a residency program on a 22-acre organic farm.

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