Painting the city: 2007 graduate leaves mark on Kansas City with new mural in Kauffman PAC

Ryan O'Toole, Staff Writer

Delicate brush strokes grace the walls. An aesthetically pleasing combination of angles, lines and colors bring the walls of a vacant theater to life.
BV graduate Andrea Morris was one of six graphic designers working on a mural for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
“Moshe Safdie, who pretty much designed all of Canada, designed the Kauffman Center,” Morris said. “He decided he wanted a mural behind each balcony in the Muriel Kauffman Theater. Twelve murals on each wall, 24 total.”
Students were chosen by the head of their department at The Kansas City Art Institute in early January to design the project.
They submitted their portfolios and met with the designer after their selection.
They then dedicated a whole semester to designing. The only two requirements were for it to be abstract and to focus on the stage.
They presented their ideas to Safdie, which Morris said sounded like a scary experience at first.
“He’s very unintimidating once he starts talking,” she said. “You’re like ‘Oh, he’s like a grandpa.’ He’s really mellow and approachable and easy to talk to.”
Art teacher Mark Mosier taught Morris at BV and thought her professional personality would be a good fit on this project.
“She just kind of looked for things on a more mature, more advanced level,” he said.
After the concept phase, painting started on June 14, with a slight snag.
“The walls were not flat,” Morris said. “They had drums on them, bumps if you will. So it was difficult because we had a lot of lines and angles. We even have a large foam wall that looks like hell because we just went at it to get used to painting on bumps.”
Morris said the walls benefited the mural in the end.
“Once you move, the whole mural changes,” she said. “It’s actually a really cool part.”
The theater opens in the fall.
“We’re hoping that they’re going to have an open house for all the people who worked on it, so we can take our families and tour it before it gets trashed,” Morris said.
Morris said she is excited to leave a permanent mark on the Kansas City arts scene.
“It’s pretty awesome knowing that it could be there when we have grandchildren that we could take to see them,” she said.