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Rose Brooks to recognize volunteer support from the Kansas City Art Institute

The Rose Brooks Center will hold a volunteer appreciation event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 30 at the corporate headquarters of Bernstein-Rein, and among the honorees will be the Kansas City Art Institute, thanks to the effort of a KCAI student who is harnessing the healing power of art to combat the pain of domestic violence.

Theo Bunch, a KCAI sophomore who is double-majoring in sculpture and creative writing, has been volunteering at the center for more than a year. Bunch has recruited 30 other KCAI students and five or six additional volunteers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City to participate in art-related efforts to lift the spirits and enrich the lives of women and children who live at a shelter operated by center.

The students conduct children’s art classes Monday and Wednesday afternoons at the shelter. They are painting a colorful mural featuring a mountain, elephant, monkeys and birds in a previously stark white hallway that leads to the counseling office. They are creating a second mural that will depict a jungle tree, where children who live at the shelter will make handprints in paint when they and their families “graduate” and leave the facility. They are sketching portraits of the women who live at shelter as gifts for the women, many of whom lost family photos as a consequence of domestic violence. Bunch is sculpting an eight-foot-tall steel tree, on which the children will hang birdhouses they are constructing to envision the kind of homes they dream of living in one day.

Originally from Atchison, Kan., Bunch is planning other activities this spring to benefit Rose Brooks. During the Art Institute’s end-of-semester exhibition and sale May 8 through 10 on the KCAI campus, the children’s birdhouses will be on display, and several of their drawings will be framed and offered for sale, with proceeds to benefit Rose Brooks. Free-will donations for the shelter also will be accepted during the on-campus event, which will take place from to 5 to 7 p.m. May 8 in a gallery in the KCAI Student Living Center, 4421 Warwick Blvd. The exhibition and sale continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 9 and from noon to 5 p.m. May 10.

In addition to double-majoring in sculpture and creative writing, Bunch is pursuing a certificate the college offers through its Community Arts and Service Learning program. When he enrolled in a CASL elective entitled “The Artist in the Community,” he met printmaking professor Hugh Merrill, who in addition to teaching at KCAI serves as community art director of Chameleon Arts and Youth Development, 2025 Tracy Ave. As a result, Chameleon is also helping Rose Brooks through the donation of art supplies and additional volunteer labor.

Accepting the award from the Rose Brooks Center Manager of Volunteers, Joan Doughterty, and the Children’s Program Director, Kim Fletcher, on behalf of KCAI will be Kathleen Collins, president of the college.

About the Kansas City Art Institute

Founded in 1885, the Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, fiber, graphic design, interdisciplinary arts, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. KCAI also hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at its H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.