Associate Professor of Art Education Josie Mai has worked with the artist Dave Loewenstein on other community art projects and invited him to Pittsburg State University this fall to give a workshop related to the Kansas People's History Project. It was at this workshop that Gennis decided to get her class involved by assigning the broadsides as the final project for the course. "It was the perfect opportunity to apply the skills combining lettering and imagery that they acquired during the course, in addition to emphasizing other skills, such as visual research, that are an important part of artistic growth," she said. Loewenstein returned to campus later in the semester to give an additional workshop to the class, and the students also attended a presentation from librarians at the Axe Library about the Kansas-related content of the library's Special Collections.
Loewenstein traveled to Pitt State again on February 18th to participate as the keynote speaker for the Pittsburg State University Museum of Art's IDEA Series, an annual lecture series that this year was built on the theme "Collective Memory." During his lecture, Loewenstein showed the audience screen printed version's of Gennis' work as well as student Mattie Parrigon's work and invited them to speak (video below).
Mai, who curates exhibitions that engage the community in the Art Connectors Gallery, felt that the Kansas People's History Project was a perfect fit for the space. "The nature of the project fits with the Art Connectors Community Gallery mission of exhibiting art and projects generated by and featuring the wider Pittsburg region," she said. A Family Art Day event, to be held on April 9th from 2-4pm, will give Pittsburg citizens the opportunity to participate in an open mic; a small stage and microphone will be set up for people of all ages to present their own Kansas stories.
Mai hopes the exhibition will serve as an inspiration for other students. "I hope students see the power of visually bringing unsung heroes and stories to life," she said. "Artists used to be advocates. Artists used to be rebels. This can still happen. I hope the community can celebrate these unsung heroes, appreciate the power of the arts to educate, and evaluate those heroes' influences on the very land they are raising their own families today."