Introduction –

Hello, my name is Michael Wickerson, arts educator and designer at the Kansas City Art Institute, and I am the co-founder and director of Wickerson Studios with my wife, Beth Allison Wickerson, developer at Signal Theory. We have been hosting an alternative forum for the arts out in Kansas City, Kansas for the past ten years.

Following a 4 years stint in the city running the Beth Allison Gallery in the crossroads, we decided to move our artistic interests to a 14 acre woodland and rolling hill property in the 435 loop; close enough to the city but recluse enough to make some “noise”.

In the wake of entering another decade of facilitating a wide range of talented national and international artists, we have decided to focus on the growing need of artists to incorporated digital technologies into their creative efforts.

Wickerson Studios is now entering a new decade of facilitating art fabrication, performance and design with a keen eye for introducing digital technologies into traditional methods and processes.

Our venture title: Wickerson Studios is a business incubator for the arts that facilitates materials and processes for artists wanting to commercialize their work.

Problem –

After two decades of co-directing a gallery, running a metal casting foundry, and operating and firing ceramic kilns for individuals and groups, we have decided that we would like to find a way to incorporate more digital modeling technologies into the hands and minds of the artists we have facilitated. Although we have assisted several digital photographers, videographers, retail businesses and independent artists in the past, we have only begun to tap into the interests of architects, engineers, and programmers.

We have hosted international conference workshops, facilitated full-scale musical and theatrical performances, worked internationally with a variety of creative individuals, and even made the cover to KC Studio magazine in 2014 (Fire Over Kansas), however we are interested in moving beyond the analogue into the digital.

By incorporating metal casting, kiln firings, and architectural fabrication in both timber and adobe construction into the contemporary digital realms of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, we will be able to extend and develop our business through offering new digital services including parametric and computational modeling processes.

We are determined to continue to mentor undergraduate art students, educate art alumni, organize public workshops, and even grant certificates for professional artists with a new focus on computer skills.

The past services we have provided have fulfilled the need for an alternative school of the arts that have been open to a wide range of disciplines from the traditional plastics arts to the more temporary theatrical and performative ones.

We now feel that the ability of reaching into the digital realm on the virtual, augmented and mixed reality levels appeals to the next generation of visual artists, designers, architects, program developers and engineers wishing to cooperate and collaborate with sculptors and performance artists.

Solution –

Our solution involves renovating Wickerson Studios and developing the digital studios to facilitate a computerized maker-space that houses the hardware and software capable running onsite rapid prototyping 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC milling machines and even robotic multi axis arms.

In such a close proximity to the preexisting foundry, kilns and metal shop, creative individuals will be able to conceive, design, and fabricate on a collaborative level with a variety of people skilled in traditional processes along side the people who are capable of coding, programming, and dealing technically and precisely with digital equipment.

Market Opportunity –

In regards to the market opportunity, there are many post graduate professionals in the arts and design fields that lack the resources required to continue their research after completing there studies.

They may very well find themselves in limbo, caught between graduating and finding creative employment or enrolling in graduate studies. Until recently, we have assisted individuals in their more traditional efforts, however they have been limited and required to find the time and money to sign up for specific workshops and courses in surrounding maker spaces to explore newer technologies.

Differentiation –

Wickerson Studios intends on offering individualized courses and tutorials that mentor and enable individuals to fully explore their particular project interests that may tap into the expertise of professionals skilled in foundry operations, metal working, and construction, along side digital modeling, programming, and scripting.

From bronze casting to algorithmic modeling, Wickerson Studios will be able to work with product designers, architects, engineers, and artist alike.

Why us –

We have spent our lives in the arts and have an enthusiastic passion for all that is creative. I am a skilled foundry-man and programmer and Beth is an professional developer and photographer.

As we raise our three children on the land, we have always prided ourselves on the imaginative world we have been able to bring to our family, our friends, and our extended creative arts community.

We fully intent on growing and developing our own particular interests along side facilitating the imaginative realms of our peers and colleagues in the national and international arts community.

Director of Wickerson Studios

Michael Wickerson promotes sculpture by research through material processes and digital logic.  This dynamic research operates on a variety of scales, from algorithmic modeling, computer aided design, technical and gestural drawings, metal fabrication and casting, to full scale architectural buildings made from timber and adobe out in rural Kansas.  The complexity of working this way creates an organizational structure that emerges from a physical hands on approach and, in turn, informs and develops the direction any future digital designed based projects may take.  Our contemporary society provides an open forum for activating and applying these skills on a multitude of levels, ranging from modeling and programming, art production to physics simulations, and architecture to engineering.

 

Wickerson’s work experience in the United States, Canada, and Holland includes A. Zahner Company, Metalabs, and the Kansas City Art Institute, where he currently works.  In 2000 he graduated with a Master’s degree in Sculpture form the L. L. Oudette Sculpture Studio at York University  in Toronto Canada after having previously studied in Art and Mathematics at the University of Waterloo.  His work has been featured in a series of international galleries and art centers, such as the Leedy Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City, among others.  Wickerson has appeared as a guest speaker at the Kinetic Sculpture Symposium at the Nerman Museum and the Guild It program at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City.  He hosted the Iron Pour at Wickerson Studio for the 2017 International Sculpture Conference in Kansas and has been invited to lead casting workshops and lectures at the Life Nourishing Arts Center in Toronto Ontario for International Sculpture Day each year.

 

Wickerson has most recently been invited to travel to Holland and Poland to collaborate with Naked Architecture and JR Imageworks in order to continue the production of a series of digital analogue prints that began in 2013 at Wickerson Studios entitled, “Fire Over Kansas”.  This ongoing international project has crossed the Atlantic Ocean several times in many different forms and has explored the work of a collection of internationally recognized artists and designers.  The project continues and final prints have already been exhibited in The Netherlands, Krakow, New York and Kansas City.

 

Assistant Research on Digital Sculpture

Joseph Canizales of Salvadoran and Honduran descent was born in 1998 in Miami, Fl. He currently is a sculpture major at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, MO pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree. In 2016 he graduated from Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami where he studied Industrial Design for years. During High School he was involved in the Arts for Learning Lewis Arts Studio summer art program as a mentor for elementary and middle school students giving advice and criticism to assist in the development of student’s artwork and organize art activities and field trips to museums. He also was a part of non-profit organization Smile art where he led art and activities for disabled individuals. He is a recipient of the 2018 McKeown Grant where he received $1,000 where he traveled to Utah’s National Parks to study the topography and geology furthering his studio practice. Currently he works at Wickerson Studios as an assistant designer and fabricator, a student leader for KCAI’s foundations department, a student advisor for the KCAI sculpture department and is Technician at David T Beals Studio where he assists and mentors KCAI’s student body with the usage of CAD and CAM processes.