Renowned East Crossroads Artist Studio Kicks Off International Sculpture Conference

One of the works in the littleSCULPTURE Show.

By Kevin Collison

The center of the sculpture world was at Studio Inc in the East Crossroads area of downtown this week for a kickoff event for the 2017 International Sculpture Conference.

Three-hundred artists from across the United States and overseas are here through Saturday for the event, which is a celebration and educational program regarding all things sculpture.

Johannah Hutchison, executive director of the ISC, said Kansas City was chosen because of its vibrant arts culture and the spirit of collaboration that exists among local artists.

“There’s such a generosity of spirit and no competitiveness, it’s exceptional here,” she said. “I go on my feelings, and my intuition was this would be perfect for doing a conference.”

The kickoff event was held Thursday evening at Studios Inc. building at 1708 Campbell St. Developer Brad Nicholson founded the program in 2003 in a former industrial building at 1708 Campbell St.

Studio Inc was host to the kickoff of the international Sculpture Conference.

Studios Inc offers mid-career artists an opportunity to set up shop in free, premium studio space for three years. Artists chosen for the program through a rigorous application process also are teamed with a patron. In return, they’re asked to donate one of their works each year for the studio gallery collection.

“Today, sculpture is defined as anything that could occupy three-dimensional space,” said Jill Downen, an assistant professor and chair of the sculpture department at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Downey is currently one of the artists in residency at Studio Inc.

Hutchison said Studio Inc was an ideal location to host the kickoff event for the conference. It also helps being next door to Torn Label Brewing.

“It’s an international model,” she said. “Artists get free space for three years, there’s not artist I know who gets this. And having a brewery attached to it, what more could you want as an artist?”

As part of the conference, attending artists are invited to bring a sculpture for what’s called the littleSCULPTURE Show. The only requirement is the work has to fit in an 8x8x8 inch box. The galleries displaying the little sculptures were among the best attended at the opening gala.

Hutchison said each conference is shaped by the community that hosts it.

“The idea is to find a community that’s interesting, innovative and ahead of the curve, and bringing people there,” she said. “It’s very organic. We meet with schools, places like Studio Inc and fit it all together.”

The conference will finish with a part at the Belger Crane Yard Studio Saturday.

Attendees of the International Sculpture Center conference checking each others’ works in the littleSCULPTURE Show.