Rachel Hubbard Kline’s mom still has all of her elementary school art projects.
Such is life when you’re destined to become an art educator and your mom is also a teacher.
“My mom saved all of my elementary school art projects,” Rachel said during a break in her teaching schedule. “I don’t know if I have the memory or I think I do because I still have the piece.”
The piece is simple: a clay dinosaur. How it formed from her mind and through her hands is something Rachel carries with her to this day.
“I still have it, that dinosaur,” she said. “It’s very memorable. I started with a ball of clay, pinched out the legs and tail and formed the nose and head. I thought, ‘Wow, from this ball of clay, I can create anything.’ It was pretty amazing.”
That creative inspiration now flows through Rachel to her students at Lee’s Summit West High School, where she is in her third year teaching everything from freshman art to advanced classes, college credit portfolio, drawing 1, 2, 3/Painting 1, 2, 3 and visual arts.
Rachel’s educational edge and artistic acumen come by her honestly. She studied fashion design at the Parsons School of Design in New York City before realizing her true passion may not be in that career tract. Rachel went on to the University of Connecticut to earn her art history degree and then completed a Masters in Fine Arts in Studio Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Still, she wasn’t sure arts education would be destiny. Her mom was a consumer science teacher, though, and she says, “I was kind of in denial that I would be in teaching as well. I wanted to explore New York City, but it came full circle and all of those experiences helped me become a stronger educator.”
Her wide range of classes and teaching preps keep her on her toes, for sure.
“It’s a really great fit for me, it balances fine art and my passion for teaching and I still get to study art history and share that with students.”
Rachel got news last fall that she will be able to share with students and the community for years to come: her art will be prominently featured on the walls of the new Kansas City International Airport terminal. Fittingly, she was notified on her mom’s birthday.
“My mom was very, very excited. She said it was the best birthday present ever.”
Rachel responded to a call-for-artists and presented her idea for a wall of ceramic tiles featuring laser-engraved news articles and photos of notable events around Kansas City.
From 1928 to 1961, The Kansas City Star published quilt patterns in the newspaper and Rachel is using many of the quilt blocks as motifs, which will repeat to create an overall pattern.
“From the multitude of quilt designs, I am selecting specific quilt patterns that were passed down in my family, are significant to Missouri history, such as the ‘Dogwood Blossom,’ and those that are the most visually interesting. Because the quilt blocks are all formatted in squares, the modular nature easily allows multiple designs to be juxtaposed next to one another.”
Her artwork will feature such historical Kansas City moments like the Super Bowl and World Series wins, the Hyatt Skywalk collapse, the Union Station Massacre and other major headlines from Cowtown. For some of the tiles, Rachel is pairing related quilt block patterns with the news article. She will use quilt patterns called “Rope and Anchor” and “Rain Drop” for the tile sections with the Missouri River flood news articles.
For the Kansas City Mayoral elections, she will go with a pattern called “Friendship Name Chain.”
When the artwork is delivered this November for installation, it will measure 4 feet high and 20 feet wide and will be displayed prominently with other local KC artists’ work in the new terminal.
Rachel made the first round of selections and was told by Zoom she was a finalist.
“The meeting was on a Friday during school and I had an advanced painting class so I just played it for the class and it was pretty exciting,” she said, noting that day was also her husband’s birthday.
Rachel also has a show at Longview Community College in September where she is showcasing her art, including her laser engraved newspaper articles, sketches and mock-ups.
“I am excited to share the process because my project involves so much research,” she said. “Kansas City history is embedded in the work so that future generations can look at the work and learn about our town.”