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Elijah Gowin, associate professor and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, shows students how to make a photogram.

A positive impression

Department of Art and Art History reaches out to area high schools

Toward the end of the fall semester, 37 high school sophomores – some who had never considered college as an option – stepped onto the UMKC campus. By the end of their visit, several talked about dedicating themselves to their studies, applying for college scholarships and pursuing an education at UMKC.

Arranged by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Art and Art History and PREP-KC, Kansas City’s leading urban education intermediary – the annual college immersion program prepares artistically-inclined students for higher education. Chaired by UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, PREP-KC’s mission is to increase college-readiness and access to high-quality employment for the more than 60,000 mostly low-income students served by six of Kansas City’s bi-state urban school districts.

“This tour is always so exciting, because not only are high school students having conversations and spending time with the department professors, but they are also observing and speaking with students in the department,” said Anne Johnston, Arts and Communication Industry Area Liaison for PREP-KC. “They genuinely get a sense of what it means to go to college and study art. This is truly a transformative and eye-opening experience.”

An Artistic Perspective

Beginning their day at the Fine Arts Building, students learned about printmaking with lecturer Grant Miller, 2D design with lecturer Davin Watne, drawing with Assistant Professor Ricky Allman and multimedia with Associate Professor Barry Anderson.

Students also worked on an art project in a photography lab led by Associate Professor Elijah Gowin, a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. As students gathered in the Fine Arts Building's photography classroom, Gowin described artistic educational opportunities, and then explained how to create a photogram – an image created by placing objects onto photographic paper and exposing them to light.

A Futuristic View

Although they must complete two and a half years of high school before officially beginning life as college students, the PREP-KC participants have developed a clearer view of their future opportunities.

“The KC-Prep program is great, because it makes getting to college a more concrete and attainable goal,” Gowin said. “It becomes a little less mysterious. Students also see the benefits and opportunities that would be awarded to them, and this encourages them to stick with their studies and persevere.”

Kati Toivanen, chair of the Department of Art and Art History, also believes that the program has had a positive effect on UMKC students.

“These visits give our current students a chance to share about their experiences in college,” Toivanen said. “They realize how far they have gone, giving them perspective on their own education.”

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"This tour is always so exciting, because not only are high school students having conversations and spending time with the department professors, but they are also observing and speaking with students in the department.”

Anne Johnston
PREP-KC

Marissa Hartman, a  PREP-KC participant, displays the photogram she created.