Alum Barclay Martin writes song honoring the UMKC Women's Center's forty years of service
Colorful, community quilt inspires “So Beautiful”
Like the beautifully-quilted fusion of squares that inspired it, Barclay Martin created lyrics that are as colorful as Nedra Bonds’ women’s equity quilt.
“… a patchwork garden blooming … Come with me, step inside … See the world through different eyes … When your story’s told and your colors show … It makes the world so beautiful.”
Martin – a local musician, a music teacher at Kansas City Academy and a UMKC alumnus – wrote “So Beautiful” to commemorate the 40thAnniversary of the Women’s Center, a University of Missouri-Kansas City organization serving, educating and advocating for the advancement of equity for women.
“I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to use my gifts as a songwriter to bring new people into the conversation on a subject that affects us all,” said Martin. “Art at its best has the ability to create new ways of looking at the world, and if what I do can shed a bit more light on the work of the Women's Center, then that awareness can help move us all forward.”
Brenda Bethman, director of the Women’s Center, said the center’s staff and the 40thAnniversary Committee wanted the celebration to serve as thanks to those who have supported its efforts for the past four decades.
“Our team wanted this to be an inclusive celebration, inviting not only those who are committed to our cause, but those we hope to become a part of it in the future,” said Bethman. “We organized several events leading up to the gala.”
One of those events was focused on Bonds’ quilt – and ended up serving as Martin’s inspiration.
Bonds – a Kansas City fiber artist – crafted the quilt from squares that were designed by UMKC students, staff and faculty, as well as members of the Kansas City community. The women’s equity quilt served as inspiration for a play and an exhibit – “Stitches: An Exhibit of Textiles by Nedra Bonds featuring the Women’s Equity Quilt.”
Another of the lead-up events was the “Vanguards and Visionaries” exhibit, a tribute to past Women’s Center leadership and local women artists. “Hopefully, there was something that resonated with everyone,” Bethman said.
Supporting the mission
The Women’s Center will hold its final 40thAnniversary celebration on April 20 with a Gala featuring the premiere of “So Beautiful,” performed by the Barclay Martin Ensemble. The Equity Quilt will be displayed at the event.
Martin had two goals in writing the piece. One was to make it invitational – in the sense of inspiring others to participate. And, second, while the center’s primary mission is women’s equity, Martin wanted to show another aspect of its service.
“The other crucial element of the Women's Center that I wanted to depict in the song is that it encourages fun as well. I hope you can hear that in the song.”
As an artist, Martin understands that people receive messages differently – visually, tactilely and audibly. By creating a CD that commemorates the 40thanniversary, he provides a different medium to encourage participation in the celebration, as well as support for the center.
“There are many needs met through the work of the Women’s Center, and I believe that the pathways to it should be as diverse as the work done within it,” said Martin.
Martin acknowledges that his perspective on some of the issues important to women is in many ways different from that of women. However, he can offer different ways of appreciating the importance of the Center’s work. He hopes that by sharing his perspective, it will encourage others to find what resonates with them on a personal level.
“As I've learned, these issues do not just affect women,” said Martin. “The solutions are within our capabilities, and with a foundation of communication and respect, we can get there together. To move forward as a society, it requires the involvement of all of us.”
The Women’s Center is one of the many organizations that Martin supports, including The Jellybean Conspiracy, The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, Medical Missions Foundation, the arts in Kansas City, water.org. and Soap in Schools, a hand washing project based in Mali, West Africa.
He is particularly proud of the work he has done with Soap in Schools. The project–which promotes sanitation through hand washing – has reached 18 schools and more than 7,200 students.