Atrium Project

The Atrium Project provides a nontraditional exhibition space and opportunity for artists to envision and create something entirely new. Commissioned projects are presented on a major twenty-five-foot-square wall at the main entrance to Kemper Museum. While not required, artists often find inspiration in Kansas City through expanded visiting artist research that becomes intuitively incorporated into the work.

Since 2016, The Atrium Project has presented the work of emerging and mid-career Latinx artists José Lerma, Firelei Báez, Paul Henry Ramirez, and Angel Otero.

The Kansas City area has long been home to a growing Hispanic and Latino community comprising nearly 10 percent of the population. The Atrium Project has also been a community-building component in Kemper Museum’s ongoing collaboration with Hispanic and Latino communities.

This exhibition is made possible in part by a generous gift from Christy and Bill Gautreaux. 

Aliza Nisenbaum: Aquî Se Puede (Here You Can)

For the sixth annual Atrium Project, New York-based artist Aliza Nisenbaum (born Mexico City, 1977) is creating large-scale portraits of individuals connected to Kansas City salsa music and dance communities. Nisenbaum is known for her bright paintings and unique approach to portraiture. Nisenbaum has exhibited her work across the world, working with locals in each city—from Immigrant Movement International members in Queens, NY to staff of the Liverpool Alder Hey Children’s Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout 2020 and 2021, Nisenbaum communicated with the Kansas City sitters via video from her studios in Los Angeles and New York. Their conversations resulted in portraits that embody the personality, interests, and energy of each individual and their relationship to salsa. 

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Joiri Minaya: Divergences

Kemper Museum presents Divergences, a commissioned installation by New York-based Black Latinx artist, Joiri Minaya (born 1990), for the fifth annual Atrium Project. This project features four individual digital photographic collages of female figures layered on a digitally abstracted wallpaper landscape resembling vistas of Kansas City, Kansas’s historic Quindaro Townsite. Minaya abstracts and camouflages these idealized subjects of landscape and the female body to investigate constructions of identity, diverse cultural social spaces, and hierarchies as a means to reclaim agency and visibility.

On view Friday, September 11, 2020 to Sunday, July 18, 2021.

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Angel Otero: Diario

Diario is the debut of a new, commissioned installation by New York-based artist Angel Otero (b. 1981), the fourth in a series of Atrium Projects at Kemper Museum. The artist’s largest painting to date, Diario underscores the personal and universal significance of leaving a mark somewhere.

Exhibited Friday, August 23, 2019 to Sunday, July 19, 2020.

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Paul Henry Ramirez: Sweet On

Sweet On is a site-responsive installation by Texas-born, New Jersey-based artist Paul Henry Ramirez. Ramirez drew inspiration for this work from a quotation attributed to R. Crosby Kemper Jr. (1927–2014) in the anniversary publication Marking 20 Years: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art: “Joy is to be surrounded by beauty.”

Exhibited Friday, August 17, 2018 to Sunday, July 28, 2019.

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Firelei Báez: To See Beyond Its Walls (and access the places that lie beyond)

Kemper Museum debuts the second in a series of commissioned atrium projects: a solo site-responsive installation by Firelei Báez (b. 1981, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic; lives and works in New York). To See Beyond Its Walls (and access the places that lie beyond) combines a large-scale painting of a female figure with a reimagined interior of Sans-Souci Palace (1813) in northern Haiti, tracing conflicted histories and current political contexts of Hispaniola (the shared island of the Dominican Republic and Haiti) and America.

Exhibited Friday, August 18, 2017 to Sunday, July 8, 2018.

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José Lerma: La Venida Cansa Sin Ti

José Lerma, Spanish-born, Chicago-based artist, presents a commissioned site-responsive project for a prominent location in the Kemper Museum Atrium. Upon visiting the Kemper Museum and Kansas City, the artist found inspiration within the art upon the walls of the Museum and the architecture within the surrounding community. 

Exhibited Friday, August 19, 2016 to Sunday, June 25, 2017.

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