Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art announces recent Permanent Collection acquisitions

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art announces recent Permanent Collection acquisitions

Kansas City, MO—Today, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art announced that in 2021, it welcomed 20 artworks by 10 contemporary artists into the Permanent Collection. Together, these recent additions to the Permanent Collection expand on relevant topics in contemporary art, align with the museum’s exhibition history, celebrate significant local art genres, and prioritize investment in and representation of the breadth of culturally, ethnically, and geographically diverse artists who are engaging today’s most critical issues. 

With ever-evolving curatorial perspectives, a permanent collection can provide new meaning and context for works through exhibitions and programs.

The acquisition of works by artists Joiri Minaya (Dominican-American, born 1990), Patrick Quarm (Ghanaian, born 1988), Christopher Udemezue (American, born 1987), and Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota, born 1976) build on themes of decolonization, history, and cultural identity present in the Permanent Collection. The addition of works by artists Bruce Dorfman (American, born 1936), Eddie Martinez (American, born 1977), and Quarm deepen and expand on Kemper Museum’s history of collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary painting. Finally, the acquisition of nine works by artists Ken Ferguson (American, 1928–2005), Warren MacKenzie (American, 1924–2018), George Timock (American, born 1945), and Patti Warashina (American, born 1940) highlight a vibrant and influential ceramics community connected to the Kansas City, and especially to the Kansas City Art Institute.

“Kemper Museum continues to grow its Permanent Collection, which now includes nearly 1,500 exemplary works by hundreds of artists, demonstrating our commitment to creating access to art for all as an important mode of interpreting our contemporary world,” said Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs for Kemper Museum. “Maintaining a permanent collection in a contemporary art museum supports artists by ensuring the preservation and contextualization of their work both here and through partnerships and gives visibility to their lived experiences. These inspiring and challenging works of art also help generate relevant programming to continue to unpack and appreciate the ideas they put forward.”


Three mixed media works by BRUCE DORFMAN, Gift of the artist

New York-based Artist Bruce Dorfman has been an instructor at the Art Students League in New York since 1964. He has taught at the New School, Syracuse University, the Everson Museum, and was Artist-in-Residence at the Norton Museum in Florida. He studied at the Art Students League with Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Arnold Blanch, and Charles H. Alston. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Dorfman studied with Stuart Edie, Mauricio Lasansky and art historian Roy Seiber. In 2008 and 2017 he received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award/Grant among many other prestigious awards, grants, and fellowships.

Image: Bruce Dorfman (American, born 1936), Kizuki, 2016, canvas, wood, metal, paper, fabric, acrylic, 52 x 60 x 6 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of the artist, 2021.03.02. © Bruce Dorfman. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2021.

Four ceramic works by KEN FERGUSON, Gift of the Estate of Ted Seligson

Ken Ferguson chaired the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute for thirty-two years. He was an influential ceramic artist, recognized as one of the greatest living potters by Ceramics Monthly magazine in 1981. Ferguson earned an M.F.A. from New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University in Alfred, New York.

Together with the newly acquired works by Warren Mackenzie, George Timock, and Patti Warashina, this acquisition represents an important moment in ceramics history in the United States in the 1960s and ’70s, stemming largely from the influence of legendary ceramic artists Bernard Leach (British, 1887–1979) and Shoji Hamada (Japanese, 1894–1978) who supported the idea that objects could be functional and well designed. The influence of Japanese pottery combines iconic forms like the bowl or jar with glazing that is closer to painting. In order to create rich and varied surfaces, Ferguson wrapped pots in straw and dispersed salt and other organic materials around a wood-fired kiln. The addition of these works to the Kemper Museum Permanent Collection speak to the fusion of contemporary art and craft, the exchange of a sense of the mechanical with the artist’s hand, and the blurring of lines between functional and sculptural.

Image: Ken Ferguson (American, 1928–2005), Covered Jar, date unknown, stoneware, 30 x 6 x 6 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of the Estate of Ted Seligson, 2021.01.01.© The Estate of Ken Ferguson. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2021.

Two ceramic works by WARREN MACKENZIE, Gift of the Estate of Ted Seligson

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Warren MacKenzie earned a B.F.A. from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He was a professor at the University of Minnesota from 1953 to 1990, and, in 1981, was honored by Ceramics Monthly magazine as ​“one of the world’s twelve best potters.”

The great influence of Japanese pottery on MacKenzie’s work is recognized in his traditional forms like the bowl or jar decorated with  glazing that references mark making found in painting. Mackenzie was also interested in making pottery available to all and was keen on creating an array of inexpensive objects.

Image: Warren Mackenzie (American, 1924–2018), Tea Bowl, date unknown, porcelain, 6 x 6 x 4 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of the Estate of Ted Seligson, 2021.01.06. © The Estate of Warren Mackenzie. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2021.

Primary by EDDIE MARTINEZ, Gift of Byoungho Son, Seoul, South Korea

New York-based artist Eddie Martinez has earned international acclaim for his vivid and expressive paintings and sculpture. His style draws from a deep understanding of painting’s histories, filtered through personal experience, popular culture, and sport. Martinez has had solo exhibitions at the Drawing Center, New York; Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Massachusetts; Peres Projects, Berlin; Half Gallery, New York; The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn; and ZieherSmith, New York. 

Primary is a work from Martinez’s most recent exhibition at Michell-Innes & Nash “Inside Thoughts.” Made during the pandemic, these works reflect the artist’s response to the space around him. In Martinez’s work there are stylistic connections to Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988) (an artist he admired when he was making graffiti work in the early part of his career), Paul Cézanne’s (French, 1839–1906) perspectively askew still lives, and Phillip Guston’s (American, 1913–1980) large-scale globular interlocking forms. His work also has connections to gestural abstraction, which is strongly represented in Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection, aligning with works such as Grace Hartigan’s (American, 1922–2008) Massacre (1952) or Janet Fish’s (American, born 1938) more representational Roses and Roofs (1987), both connecting to Martinez’s practice of moving fluidly between abstraction and representation in his painting.

Image: Eddie Martinez, (American, born 1977), Primary, 2020, oil on canvas in the artist's frame, 72 x 108⅞ inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of Byoungho Son, Seoul, South Korea, 2021.02.01. @ Eddie Martinez/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and courtesy of the artist and Mitchell, Innes, & Nash. Photo: Eddie Martinez courtesy of Mitchell, Innes, & Nash, 2021.


Four works from the Divergences series by JOIRI MINAYA, commissioned by Kemper Museum for the fifth annual Atrium Project installation, a project that presents the work of emerging and mid-career Hispanic and Latinx artists. Museum purchase made possible by a gift from the Kemper Family Foundations.

Joiri Minaya is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work investigates the female body within constructions of identity, multi-cultural social spaces, and hierarchies. “Divergences” speak to the reclaiming of agency through landscape. By employing digitally abstracted and collaged female figures in various states of removing landscape-printed clothing, she draws attention to the contested connection between nature and femininity, idealized bodies, and the stereotypes and exoticization of the Caribbean female body. The acquisition of these works builds upon Kemper Museum’s dedication to collecting significant works by women artists and artists of color.

Born in New York, Minaya grew up in the Dominican Republic and earned degrees from the Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (2009), the Altos de Chavón School of Design (2011) and Parsons the New School for Design (2013). She has participated in residencies such as Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Guttenberg Arts, Smack Mellon, BronxArtSpace, Bronx Museum’s AIM Program, the NYFA Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, Red Bull House of Art Detroit, Socrates Sculpture Park, Art Omi, and Vermont Studio Center among many others. Minaya has exhibited internationally across the Caribbean and the U.S. She has received grants from the Nancy Graves Foundation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation (Emerging Artist Grant), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation (Emerging Artist and Painters and Sculptors Grants) among others.

Image: Joiri Minaya (Dominican-American, born 1990), Shedding, 2020, archival pigment print on paper, 40 x 60 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Museum purchase made possible by a gift from the Kemper Family Foundations, 2021.05.01. Art and photo © Joiri Minaya, 2020.


OBAAPA by PATRICK QUARM, Promised Gift of Bill and Christy Gautreaux

Patrick Quarm earned a B.F.A. in painting from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana (2012) and an M.F.A. from Texas Tech University (2018). Currently living and working in Takoradi, Quarm paints portraits of young African individuals directly onto collaged and perforated African wax print fabric. His paintings weave and splice cultural signifiers from different eras and communities into multi-layered works that invite the viewer to explore them from different angles. Quarm’s work has been showcased around the world at institutions including the Trout Museum of Art, Appleton, WI; K.N.U.S.T Museum Kumasi, Ghana; and the Caviel Museum of African American History, Lubbock, TX. He has participated in artist residency programs including Red Bull House of Art, Detroit, Michigan. In September 2020, Quarm debuted his first solo exhibition in New York with albertz benda.

Since moving to the United States, Quarm has explored the meaning of living in a new environment and culture through his work. Both cultures, western and Ghanaian, have opened a path of self-discovery for the artist. His work is inspired by his colonial past, post-colonial identity, and the contemporary collision of current cultures that exist in the present Ghanaian territory. The way these experiences influence him and others is what he calls a hybrid identity – stories and experiences that turn into a third personality fed by political, social, historical and cultural expressions. The layering of canvas in his work speaks to his interest in hybrid cultural influences, but the result is also sculptural and denotes a sense of layering and complexity of us as humans. Quarm’s techniques of double and/or sculptural canvases introduce new ways of creating portraiture in painting, expanding the Kemper Museum Permanent Collection’s strong foundation in modern and contemporary painting.

Image: Patrick Quarm (Ghanaian, born 1988), OBAAPA, 2020, mixed media: acrylic, oil on African print fabric, 43 x 33 x 6 inches. Promised gift of Bill and Christy Gautreaux, PG.2021.1. © Patrick Quarm. Photo: Casey Kelbaugh, 2020.


Two works by GEORGE TIMOCK, Gift of the artist

George Timock earned an M.F.A. and B.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he studied with Richard DeVore. In 1973, Timock began teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute with Ken Ferguson and Victor Babu. For 37 years, Timock created large-scale, raku-fired vessels that centered on architectural and natural inspirations. 

Research trips to Hungary for more than a decade inspired these recent additions to the collection. Influenced by Eastern European architecture and the purity of Hungarian porcelain, Timock's works reassess the traditional vessel format with optically intricate and stunning surfaces of metallic gold and platinum that have become a predominant feature of his precious vessels. Kemper Museum continues to build on the connections Kansas City has with ceramics by emphasizing these significant contributions.

Image: George Timock (American, born 1945), Porcelain Vessel QQQ, 2013, Hungarian porcelain, gold luster, 11 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches, Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of the artist. 2021.06.02. © George Timock. Photo: E.G. Schempf, 2013.


When William Thomas Beckford wasn't looking is when I remember your touch under the palm tree leaves by CHRISTOPHER UDEMEZUE, Gift of Giora Kaplan

Born in Long Island, New York, artist Christopher Udemezue earned a B.F.A. from Parsons School of Design in New York (2008). Udemezue has exhibited at the New Museum, MoMA PS1, and the Queens Museum of Art. He is co-chair of the board at Recess Gallery in Brooklyn, New York and the founder of RAGGA NYC, a collective platform that connects a growing network of queer Caribbean artists and allies through online storytelling and events. 

Udemezue combines his Jamaican heritage, the complexities of desire for connection, healing through personal mythology, and ancestry as primary sources for his work. His photographs reframe Caribbean and African American history through poetic explorations of historical events, folklore, and oral histories; interweaving them with his own dreams and imaginings. The scenes and stories depicted traverse historical and geographic borders while addressing questions of political resistance, trans-cultural entanglement, liberation, and the Black diaspora. In this work, Udemezue reimagines a scene with two enslaved people in a loving embrace on the plantation of William Thomas Beckford, an English enslaver. Adding this photograph to Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection allows for continued visibility of the lives of enslaved peoples and create important moments for dialogue surrounding the atrocities of American history.

Image: Christopher Udemezue (American, born 1987), When William Thomas Beckford wasn't looking is when I remember your touch under the palm tree leaves, 2021, digital print, framed, 45 x 27 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of Giora Kaplan, 2021.07. Art and photo © Christopher Udemezue, courtesy Anat Ebgi Gallery, 2021.


Covered Bowl by PATTI WARASHINA, Gift of the Estate of Ted Seligson

Patti Warashina earned an M.F.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1964 and has had a sustaining interest in the human figure for more than a half century. She was the recipient of the 2018 United States Artists Fellowship, the 2020 Smithsonian Visionary Award, the 2021 American Craft Council Gold Medal Award, and the 2021 Meloy Stevenson Award of Distinction from the Archie Bray Foundation.

While widely known for her figurative ceramic works, Warashina’s early functional pottery was influenced by the Japanese style of Shoji  Hamada. This work introduces the expressiveness of mark making in early American folk ceramics. The mark on the cover of this covered bowl has an energy comparable to gestural abstraction, an important style represented in Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection.

Image: Patti Warashina (American, born 1940), Covered Bowl, date unknown, stoneware, 6 x 6 x 6 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of the Estate of Ted Seligson, 2021.01.07. © Patti Warashina. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2021.


Carry III by DYANI WHITE HAWK, Museum purchase made possible by a gift from the Kemper Family Foundations.

Dyani White Hawk (Sičangu Lakota), earned her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011) and B.F.A. from the Institute of American Indian Arts (2008). She is a recipient of 2019 United States Artists Fellowship in Visual Art, 2018 Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists, 2017 and 2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowships, 2014 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, and 2013 McKnight Visual Arts Fellowship. White Hawk is represented by the Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN and will have work represented in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. This work was created for her solo exhibition Speaking to Relatives, which originated at Kemper Museum in 2021 and will travel to Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in early 2022.

This work is a beaded vessel sculpture made of colorfully dyed feathers, glass beads, brass sequins, and cascading synthetic sinew. The work responds directly to preconceptions of Native art forms as inherently utilitarian. This work pushes White Hawk’s interest in the past and present into a three-dimensional space, allowing practices of Plains artists to transcend their functional connotations and be acknowledged for their artistry.

Image: Dyani White Hawk, Sičáŋǧu Lakota, born 1976, Carry III, 2020, buckskin, synthetic sinew and thread, vintage glass beads, brass sequins, copper vessel, copper ladle, 105 x 12 x 10 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Museum purchase made possible by a gift from the Kemper Family Foundations, 2021.04. © Dyani White Hawk, Courtesy of the artist and Bockley Gallery. Photo: Rik Sferra, 2021.