Making : KC Friends of Alvin Ailey Janet K. Miller Award


I was breezing through my emails and noticed an email from KCAI Alumni Relations about a call for art. I’ve made a goal this year to flex my art making muscles outside of wearables and the label. The call was for KCFAA Janet K. Miller Award and an award. How would I throw a Whitney Manney spin on this? The design came pretty instantly; I wanted to work with transparency, layered patterns, and the laser cutter.

kcfaa whitneymanney.jpg

I immediately sketched the circle and skyline shape. I sat on the idea for a while, thinking “I should be able to come up with something better!” Welp, the day of the deadline came and I decided to go with my gut. I love working with various materials in one piece, whether it’s clothing or not. My only constraints were that the award couldn't be over 12” x 12” and must include a base for the plaque. I picked silk organza and chiffon to work with.

Each piece of fabric was hand dyed and some were marbled. I made sure to marble with dark colors for the lines to stand out against the bright dyes. The circle itself has a diameter of 11”. I wanted the award to celebrate the city and diversity without being terribly obvious.  The globular inset cityscape silhouette adds some dimension to the shape and allows different areas of fabric to show. I added a vinyl cutout of my original pattern “Sketch” in gold to add extra shine. I sent the mockups off and received approval!

Time to get to work…

Dyeing silk organza and chiffon in studio

Dyeing silk organza and chiffon in studio


Community resources are the best and it was incredibly helpful to use the laser cutter and vinyl cutter at Johnson County Library Maker Space. Nick Ward-Bopp, Maker Space facilitator and owner of Maker Village KC, even helped me with the wooden base (let's be real, wood shop was not my thing). The hardest part of the project was keeping the fabric taut and stretched without tearing, and getting the air bubbles out of the vinyl.


The fabric was strategically layered so when light hits it, it has a kaleidoscope effect. I'm already thinking of ways to push this method! This project was the perfect balance of traditional and contemporary techniques combining. The award was ultimately presented to KC Mayor Sly James at KCFAA 35th Anniversary Gala, I’m probably gonna make one for myself because this project really showed out.
P.S. check out this time lapse of the award!