photograph of Kandis Barker
Published : Wed 10/30/19 Updated : Tue 04/26/22 Category : MulvaneBlog

Kandis Barker, Curator of Education at the Mulvane Art Museum, was recently named Outstanding Museum Art Educator of the Year 2019-20 by the Kansas Art Education Association. Barker accepted her award at KAEA Fall Conference on October 11, 2019 in Overland Park, KS at Johnson County Community College, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. The Kansas Art Education Association is a statewide professional organization dedicated to the growth and development of art educators and the advancement of high quality art education.


When accepting the award, Barker discussed the importance of underscoring cultural connections in educational programs. She reflected on a recent experience working with Armando Bogarín, a self-taught artist from Paraguay who came to the museum for a residency via the Kansas Paraguay Partnership.  

The children—people of all ages—“got it.” What is art? Use art as your voice. Use art as a tool of communication. Use art to improve the world. Fifth grade children asked Armando, “What is your hope for the future?” Armando replied, “El futuro es ahora (the future is now).”

Barker chose career paths in fields that champion learning, tolerance, and compassion. Early in her career, she began working as an activity therapy assistant at KNI, raised a family, and volunteered in schools. Barker went to college as a non-traditional student. She graduated from Washburn University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Painting, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History, and Study Abroad in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. In 2005, Barker earned her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Washburn, emphasizing Museum Art Education across disciplines and using the Mulvane’s collection of works by self-taught artists as the basis of her thesis. Her work culminated in two exhibitions and educational programs featuring the arts of Appalachian self-taught artists, historic Kansas Quilts, and other artworks from the Mulvane collection.


She joined the Mulvane in 1995 as an artist-educator and part-time assistant education program coordinator and put her heart into the Museum’s programs. Barker has grown, evolved, and learned during her many years at the Museum, establishing her profession at both the Mulvane and Washburn University. She has worked as an Adjunct Instructor in the Education Dept’s Creative Experiences courses, Art History Dept’s Art History: Renaissance-Modern, CAS the College Experience. She was a fellow of the English Dept.’s Washburn Writers Program, whose goal was to engage university students through creative writing. 


As Curator of Education, Barker directs the museum’s educational outreach, classes, tours, programming and the Judith Lennox Sabatini ArtLab. With interactive programs for kids of all ages, parents, caregivers, students and faculty, the ArtLab is a place where the community can come to the Museum and create. Entry is free and open to the public. Over the years, Barker, along with Assistant Curator of Education Jane Hanni, has created an innovative and inclusive interactive space that differentiates the Mulvane’s educational programs from other campus art museums nationally. 

Kandice Barker talking with others in art gallery


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