Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | Louise Bourgeois | The Nerd Nest

Spider by Louise Bourgeois

Kansas City is filled with wonderful museums. When my out-of-town friends visited recently, they requested we add the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art to the itinerary. I was happy to oblige: I love this museum because special exhibits keep visits fresh, there is an emphasis on showing pieces by artists of diverse backgrounds, and the exhibits are displayed in a beautiful layered way.

I was excited to see the new Piece by Piece: Building a Collection.

Here were some of my favorite pieces from the exhibit:

Body Screen, Hayv Kahraman and Landscape Majestic, Mickalene  Thomas | Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest

Body Screen by Hayv Kahraman and Landscape Majestic by Mickalene Thomas

How to Get Rich on a Shoestring Budget, Nathaniel Donnett | Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest

How to Get Rich on a Shoestring Budget by Nathaniel Donnett

Kara Walker | Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest 2

works by Kara Walker

La Nature est Morte, Aimé Mpane (Untitled Lightz I, Ebony G. Patterson, Background) | Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest

La Nature est Morte Aimé Mpane and Untitled Lightz I Ebony G. Patterson

Oyster #5 by Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam I Wanna Go Bang and Watching Forever by Jeffrey Gibson | Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest

Oyster #5 by Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam, I Wanna Go Bang and Watching Forever by Jeffrey Gibson

Contemporary art is often about creating new form, expanding past the function of materials, and answering questions about what defines art.

The works I’m most drawn to, however, are all about telling stories. I love art that meshes traditional cultural symbolism or methods with modern materials or themes. I love seeing different political points of view and sociological perspectives in the artist’s voice. But most of all, I love the emotion that art based in storytelling evokes in me–though it’s fleeting, I sometimes feel like I reach an understanding with the artist. And I’m a firm believer that trying to see things from others’ point of view as much as possible makes you a better, kinder person, so this exercise in empathy is good for the proverbial soul.

(Not that all art does this too me. Sometimes I just go–“Huh. Well that’s weird / interesting / totally crazysauce.”)

QC #15 and Cumulous (small) by Sanford Biggers | Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest

QC #15 and Cumulous (small) by Sanford Biggers

I also always come away from a museum inspired. Something I see will spark a creative idea infallibly. Watch out for something sparked by QC #15 soon.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | The Nerd Nest

Stop by the Kemper (it’s free!) in Kansas City if you have a chance, or feel free to give me a virtual tour of an awesome exhibit near you with a link in the comments!