Organizers hope nonprofit will be a staple in Wichita arts

01/11/2014 12:00 AM

01/11/2014 12:59 PM

Local artist Kate Van Steenhuyse wanted to create a space for people to critically discuss art and respond through work of their own, so she founded a new nonprofit organization, Harvester.

Van Steenhuyse, a painter, educator and designer, started Harvester with help of artists Kristin Beal and Ryan Gates.

Their goal is simple – to bring nationally established artists to Wichita to do two-week residencies and create new work, which will give local artists an opportunity to respond through creation of new work of their own.

“The ultimate goal is to show thought-provoking work, inspire others to create new work, and drive a conversation about art that can dig deeper than just ‘I do/don’t like that,’ ” Van Steenhuyse said.

The group plans to offer quarterly exhibitions and events.

“We are both happy to make Wichita our home and want to make it a place that enriches and challenges us as artists, while also showing artists from around the country what a great place Wichita is,” Beal said.

Harvester plans to have a strong emphasis on installation and performance art, which will be something new for art aficionados in Wichita, according to organizers.

“There is no space in town that regularly or specifically exhibits this kind of work,” Beal said.

Van Steenhuyse explained installation art as “art that is typically dependent upon the space where it’s being shown. For example, instead of the exhibition being paintings hung on a wall (which could be installed anywhere) with an installation, the painting would be done directly on the wall.”

Harvester also will encourage guests to not only look at the works of art, but discuss them. One of the main goals of the organization is to get people involved.

“Too often people just look at the art but don’t immerse themselves in it, largely because they do not have a point of entry,” Beal said. “Harvester aims to provide that point of entry to the community at large and to also harness the energy of the great artists we have in our community while connecting them to artists from around the United States.”

The organization hopes to be a staple in Wichita arts.

“In five years we plan to have our own space, operating through grant funding,” Beal said. “First we must build our programming to develop a track record worthy of grant funding, follow our mission.”

Van Steenhuyse added, “I want to see school kids writing essays or poems based on some facet of an exhibit.”

“Most importantly, people who may not consider themselves artists can have the opportunity to be a part of this. There is no right or wrong way to respond; the most important thing is to join the conversation and get involved.”

Harvester is sponsoring a contest and inviting local artists to design a logo for the new nonprofit. The winner will receive a $500 prize. The logos will be on display during Harvester’s Final Friday launch party on Feb. 28.

Harvester operates out of Bluebird Arthouse’s NEST space, 924 W. Douglas. For more information about Harvester, visit harvesterarts.com or the group’s Facebook page, facebook.com/harvesterartswichita.

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