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December 8, 2017

Kemper names Sandoval a ‘Woman to Watch’

Brute strength, 90 LED bulbs and nearly two decades of creative visioning have earned Johnson County Community College Fine Arts Professor Angelica Sandoval a prestigious honor from Kansas City’s Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Kemper named Sandoval one of five “Women to Watch – Metals” and is exhibiting her work, “Empyreal,” from June 2017 through January 2018. This biennial series is co-sponsored by the Kansas City Chapter of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA). The glowing installation — her largest — consists of 90 pieces made of steel rods, porcelain slip and LED bulbs.

The work of five local female artists chosen to watch in the metals category include exhibits of jewelry, flat pieces and sculpture, but nothing as extensive as Sandoval’s. Her next step in evolving her art concept is to create and apply sound to her installation, as well as have dancers interact with it.

Making art come alive

Sandoval’s exhibit took four months to create and install, but she has been perfecting her concept for more than 16 years. Her installation is unique because of the type of porcelain she uses. “I slipcast liquid porcelain into a form, paint it, and layer on more porcelain slip, which creates different thicknesses. I love how it takes on a flesh-like texture that illuminates and diffuses light once the bulbs are installed,” Sandoval said. Her entire process involves:

  • Creating the design on the computer
  • Layering the translucent liquid porcelain around a form, painting it and firing it in a kiln
  • Determining the footage needed for the steel rods
  • Bending the 3/16-inch steel rods herself (sometimes she uses a metal bender) and running electrical wiring inside the rods
  • Creating a false ceiling and attaching the rods
  • Installing the LED bulbs and porcelain forms

“My passion is to create art that can be interacted with, so I make the rods different lengths so people can walk through the exhibit and be eye-to-eye with the porcelain,” Sandoval said. She has created each of her five installations to fit the size of a specific site, including KCP&L’s headquarters in downtown Kansas City when she was named the recipient of an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant in 2013. “They’ve all been the same concept — these anthropomorphic creatures — but the number and length of rods and how they cluster are all custom-designed for a site.”

Future combines art and technology

As an artist, Sandoval hopes her pieces inspire emotion and conversation. As a fine arts instructor, she hopes her teaching inspires students to take risks. “I love problem-solving with students to help them turn their vision into a reality.” Since Sandoval teaches sculpture classes in wood working, metal working and metal casting, one of her basic goals is for students to learn how to safely use the equipment to create. But more than that, she wants to help students push themselves conceptually. “I usually have them write about their work so they can give it a lot of thought before they get started creating. I also require them to do a series of drawings to show them the importance of planning.”

Sandoval anticipates a strong future for art students with the emergence of 3-D printers. “I can see opportunities for combining traditional hands-on maker skills with 3-D printing, which could lead to some highly creative and exciting jobs.”

Sandoval’s light installation will be at the Kemper Museum until January 28, 2018. If she is chosen to represent Kansas City, she would create an installation for the National Women’s Art Museum in Washington, D.C., which would be showcased beginning next June. 

Student Projects

See what our students are doing with their creativity on the third floor of the Student Center or in the lobby and cases next to ATB 115.