Kristi Henderson
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

KU project collects stories of Kansans' creativity

Fri, 09/09/2011
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LAWRENCE – A new initiative launched by the University of Kansas School of the Arts is devoted to collecting and sharing the stories of the artistic and creative endeavors of Kansans.

The initiative, How Are You Creative, is similar to the oral history project StoryCorps, which records and preserves the stories of Americans from various backgrounds and beliefs. How Are You Creative will offer Kansans the opportunity to share their stories of how they express themselves creatively.

“According to a survey from the National Endowment for the Arts, more Kansans per capita are involved in personal artistic expression than any other state in the country,” said Liz Kowalchuk, associate dean of the School of the Arts. “Clearly, many people recognize that the arts are a powerful way of expressing themselves. How Are You Creative is a great way to celebrate the importance of creativity in our daily lives, whether in the work place or in our personal pursuits.”

Many of the stories will be collected online through the How Are You Creative website, Stories also will be collected in person in visits to the Kansas State Fair and communities throughout the state.

Fairgoers who want to share their stories of creative interests are encouraged to visit the KU booth from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at the Meadowlark Building on the fairgrounds. Staff will be there to record stories on camera and hand out forms for those who would prefer to record their stories in writing.

One such story that organizers will document on Sunday at the Kansas State Fair is from Great Bend resident Thomas Humburg, also known as “The Block Stacker.”

Humburg, who is a farmer and welder by profession, has created a scale model of the World Trade Center buildings out of 16,000 small wooden blocks to commemorate the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Each block measures 3 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide. The resulting twin towers are about 13 feet tall.

The creation of the World Trade Center model required help from family and friends, including Humburg’s daughter, Sara. She is a Jayhawk alumna who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2008.

By collecting stories such as Humburg’s, organizers hope to raise awareness about the extent of arts participation in the state of Kansas and help artists make new connections. Artistic expression can take many forms, Kowalchuk said, from knitters to gardeners and painters to metalsmiths.

How Are You Creative is open to all Kansans to participate. To learn more, or to share your story, visit

The KU School of the Arts is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The School of the Arts is home to four departments: Dance, Film and Media Studies, Theatre and Visual Art. As part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

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