What’s Poppin’ ? Graduating Seniors Create Pop Up Galleries for First Friday Exhibitions

Every spring, graduating seniors are responsible for exhibiting their thesis work in an off campus exhibition. Fortunately, in Kansas City, there are a lot of places to exhibit, but what if you aren’t juried into a show or can’t find a gallery that will exhibit your work?

The brilliant idea of “Pop Up” galleries allowed for several graduating seniors to present in the heart of the crossroads during a very busy First Friday. Pop Ups have been running rampant in the world of retail, especially popular for seasonal merchandise, made available for a limited time. The Pop-ups have  evolved into retail shops with limited addition products, experimental events, and now exhibitions.

A vacant office supply store building became “Mutual Space” for May First Friday. Seniors Roberto Lugo, Ashely Lugo, Alora Wilde, and alumna Lora Campbell rented the space for their thesis exhibition. Pulling together their resources and connections they branded their temporary install as the “Mutual Space” to exhibited their final projects. Lora Campbell (’11 ceramics) participated during her visit to Kansas City from Normal, IL, where she has been a post baccalaureate. The Lugos are moving to Penn State this fall where Roberto received a full ride and assistantship with professor and alumnus Chris Staley. Ashley will be joining Roberto on the journey. She will continue her studio practice with the hopes of also going to grad school and teaching in the future.

Also opening on First Friday was Label Kansas City, a collaborative Pop-up space by seniors Ben Harle and Maegan Stracy. The two met in foundations and immediately began collaborating. Although the two students went into separate departments at KCAI, they continued to share ideas and consult each other on their separate mediums. Ben is interested in creating phenomenal experiences with his video installations. Maegan creates neon colored accessories that are not entirely functional. Label lasted through the weekend in the first floor space of Whoop-de-doo, a collaborative anything-goes performance group run by KCAI alumni. Maegan participated in several of Whoop-de-doo’s projects, and requested that she and Ben use the space for their thesis exhibition. Both Ben and Maegan were accepted into the Artist Inc collegiate program offered through Career Services, the Charlotte Street Foundation, UMKC, and Arts KC. Following graduation they will meet for several weeks with other KCAI students, UMKC conservatory students, and professional mentors to continue their professional development.


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