Recently, I invited art historian and art history professor Deborah Dickson to my home. Deborah specializes in African art and teaches at several colleges and universities in Kansas City including the Kansas City Art Institute and Rockhurst University. She looked at my pieces and we talked about travel, the local art scene, textiles as an art form, especially Kuba cloth, and just a bit about how I grew up. Below are her thoughts about my collection. Enjoy the tour!
Walking up to Roni’s Westside Kansas City second floor condo is like the appetizer before dinner, where you are introduced to an array of colorful textiles and sculptures from around the world. Her contemporary living space, with a stunning view of the downtown skyline, serves as a backdrop for her international collection of arts and crafts.
As Roni introduces her private collection, it is clear she has a passion for the quality and beauty of the objects she gleans on her trips to Morocco, Thailand, India, Turkey, and other countries. Though the majority of her finds make their way onto the Loaded Trunk eye candy menu, she finds many pieces that she wants to live with.
Sculpted wooden heads of a serene Buddha from Thailand, beautifully woven Turkish rugs, an enormous bold indigo-dyed textiles originally made for Cameroonian kings in Central Africa, and a Baule culture mask of a female nature spirit from the Ivory Coast in West Africa are displayed alongside powerful Iatmul culture ancestor effigies from Papua New Guinea collected decades ago by her parents, and large intricate Day of the Dead ceramic dolls from Mexico, part of her daughter’s global doll collection, to create an eclectic and exciting assemblage.
Traveling and living in other countries, and collecting interesting objects from around the world came naturally to Roni, who grew up in Southeast Asia while her father served in the Army. Her parents collected art, passed this passion onto Roni, who in turn instilled her now-adult children with the yen to collect exotica. Every room (and cabinet and drawer) in her living space brims with exciting finds, a virtual treasure chest of unusual and intricate forms. Every medium imaginable, from cotton, wool, wood, metal, and clay, compliments the seemingly endless array of patterns and textures found in each room; you can almost close your eyes and experience the pieces by smell—hints of spices, smoke, and organic fibers conjure distant marketplaces brimming with every ware imaginable.
Though the majority of her collection is related to the traditional ritual arts of Asia and Africa, these are interspersed with contemporary art. A favorite local artist, Mark Westervelt, is represented by several large paintings and small works that complement Roni’s diverse taste in their varied subjects and styles.
Other contemporary works are made by international artists, such as the expressive portraits by Hanoi artist La Ba Quan. Though many designers try to match art to the furniture, Roni prefers to let the art take the spotlight, and let her modern, stylish furnishings function as pedestals, or places to sit and contemplate, the gorgeous art (which, admittedly, distracts the visitor from the great view out the large windows).
All my art has a story and a memory attached, much like all of your art and collectibles. Thank you Deborah for the walk down memory lane! And thank you for joining us.