For the last three years, the Informality online platform has promoted artists, functioning both as critic and documentarian by fostering a dynamic and informal conversation around the contemporary art of Kansas City. Informality’s staff of writers, editors, visual artists, and curators aim to reach beyond creating a simple publication, and strives to serve as a catalyst for critical art writing and thought. There is a dearth of cohesive arts writing in the community, and Informality wishes to stake a claim with a centralized, public-facing voice that is concise, clear, and critical.
The work associated with this grant will focus on Informality Radical Public Programming targeted to create and enhance dynamic relationships between writers and readers. In a mid-size city with a growing arts community, constructive criticism is often overshadowed by proximity. The dynamics between creators and critics can become tenuous. Through engaging programmatically, however, the Informality team will function as catalysts for escalating critical art writing practices in Kansas City. Through the use of educational and socially engaged programs, Informality also aims to diversify their current audience and scope.
The first of the Radical Public Programming events will expand on their already existing project, Guerrilla Docents. This project has allowed Informality to push First Fridays in the Kansas City Crossroads toward dynamic art conversations. With Rocket Grants funding, the team will ramp up its visibility and impact by creating new methods for engaging with their audience and inviting other local artists and writers to participate.
Guerrilla Docent events will lead into Informal Gatherings, ad-hoc salons that will occur in a variety of homes and public spaces. These will encourage readers to meet, drink, eat, and discuss recent articles and criticism with contributors.
Digital/Critical Critique Nights will be another program with which Informality will work with local artists to bridge the gap between the digital and the studio. By critiquing documentation of local artists’ work Informality will provoke discussion about relationships between the work’s intended impact and its documented experience. This will help artists gain understanding of how their work is viewed online and in digital submissions.
Other ideas to be tested include CRIT 2 CRIT – a program that is targeted toward encouraging artists in the community to function simultaneously as critics, and Art Writing JAMZ in which the public will be invited to an informal art writing session. Ultimately, Informality would like to bring in guest editors from around the country. ROOF CHILL is a vision for new video criticism, featuring local artists on a roof patio discussing contemporary art and culture. These recorded sessions would be available to stream online.
The mission of Informality is to take the talk about art in Kansas City and put it online. Functioning not just as an archive but also as a catalyst, Informality encourages contributors to openly submit everything from cell phone photos to essays and encapsulates a wide range of perspectives from the community. Through its writing and public programming, it aims to make the conversation about art and culture in Kansas City both informal and informative.
Melaney Ann Mitchell is a curator, visual artist, and writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Informality. Mitchell was formerly the Director of Subterranean Gallery, an underground apartment gallery, located in Midtown. She is a 2015 Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition Art Writing and Curatorial Fellow, a participant in the Charlotte Street Foundation Rocket Grants Editorial Program, and has received an Inspiration Grant from ArtsKC. Her curatorial, writing, and visual art practices all revolve around the intersection of our lives with the Internet and its effect on our online and offline identities. http://melaneyann.com
Blair Schulman is an art writer/critic and Senior Editor of Informality. He is a regular contributor to Ceramics: Art & Perception, Huffington Post Arts & Culture and Hyperallergic. His writing has appeared in Art Focus Oklahoma, Art Practical, Juxtapoz, The Kansas City Star, Whitehot and the former Review magazine, where he was a longtime contributor. He was Editor of Cupcakes in Regalia and Associate Editor of Art Tattler online magazine. In addition, Schulman is a 2012 Oklahoma Art Writing and Curatorial Fellow as well as a founder and co-host of ArtSpeak Radio on KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio. www.blairschulman.com.
Patricia Bordallo Dibildox is a Mexican-born artist living in Kansas City. She obtained a BFA in Photography from the Kansas City Art Institute and has worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Her work has been exhibited in a wide range of spaces including local galleries City Ice Arts and 50/50. Alongside her studio practice, Patricia is Managing Editor of Informality Blog (KC) and a partner of Sight Review (NYC). www.patriciabordallo.com.