2013 graduate Elizabeth Landes studies sculpture and pursues art career

Continuing her love for art, Landes attends the Kansas City Art Institute in hopes to have a career in sculpture

March 1, 2016

LEFT: 2013 graduate Elizabeth Landes’ senior yearbook photo. RIGHT: On Thursday, Feb. 18, 2013 graduate Elizabeth Landes stands in the Kansas City Art Institute.
By Morgan Nelson
LEFT: 2013 graduate Elizabeth Landes’ senior yearbook photo. RIGHT: On Thursday, Feb. 18, 2013 Landes stands in the Kansas City Art Institute. (Submitted photo)

Passion for sculpture and design didn’t start at an early age for 2013 graduate Elizabeth Landes, formerly Elizabeth Brown. Instead, she began to love unique techniques and art materials right in the school’s own classrooms. Now a student at the Kansas City Art Institute, Landes is studying many different forms of art with knowledge from her high school classes and teachers.

At first, Landes took art classes for fun, but soon realized her natural talent for all different types of art.

“I was interested mostly in the art classes because I had a lot of freedom. As I got more advanced, my teachers gave me a lot of freedom within my work; they allowed me to do what I needed to do,” Landes said. “I was the only 3D-focused person, so that’s kind of where my independent work with foam began.”

Art teacher Jerry Howard had Landes in class every year, but did not see her independent interest in art until toward the end of her high school career.

“[Landes] started showing some outside interest in materials and things we weren’t doing in class. I knew she had a lot of skills, but I didn’t know that she had the love for styrofoam and all that three-dimensional sculpture until after she had already done a lot of it,” Howard said. “That’s when I started to discover all the stuff she was doing outside the class. She was doing a lot on her own and I wasn’t aware of that the first year I had her in class.”

Pursuing a career in art was not always Landes’ goal, but after attending the Pre-College Art Lab at the Kansas City Art Institute, she made the decision to do so.

“I always knew that I liked art, but when I did the summer program that they offered at KCAI, that’s when it was for sure,” Landes said. “Before that, I didn’t really know if I was good. But when I went to PCAL, knowing that there were people from all over the country there and that I was still doing well, I kind of knew that I could be successful in art.”

Howard was more than just a teacher for Landes; she considers him to be a mentor. He guided her into the real world, according to Howard.

“I think what I helped her with the most was just being comfortable with expressing herself through other types of art and not being afraid of what other people thought” Howard said “Also, I also helped enlighten her on some of the possibilities and opportunities she had available to her beyond high school.”

According to Landes, there isn’t a specific reason as to why she chose to have an art career, but she finds it necessary in her life.

“I just kind of needed to do it. Art is a very meditative thing,” Landes said. “You get a large understanding of yourself and the world you’re in. That kind of knowledge is really important to have as you grow up,” Landes said.

Even though school art classes were obviously the most important to Landes’ future, other classes helped prepare her for other parts of her life.

“Art includes other subjects. You can’t just take art classes and expect to succeed. You don’t really understand the crossover between your core classes and art until later. It stems so strongly from history and math and other educational things,” Landes said. “It’s a part of a lot of different areas, and I think all my classes at Mill Valley helped me prepare for parts of art that I wasn’t even aware of until later.”

Howard could always see not only the talent Landes had, but also her motivation to succeed.

“It was pretty easy to recognize that she had a skill set and a talent that went beyond the classroom. She was really a self-developed artist,” Howard said. “I don’t think I’ve had a student since her that has been more passionate about just learning and developing her skills outside of the classroom.”

Currently, Landes is in the process of getting her name out, and is working on many different projects in order to narrow down her field of study.

“I’ve been in a couple of art shows, and I went to Chicago last year on a grant that I got from here. I’ve done one national competition that I won,” Landes said. “Right now, I’m doing some woodworking, but my main kind of work is weaving and porcelain. My primary material is foam.”

Seeing her both in and out of class, Howard knew Landes was capable of having a good career in art.

“I had no doubt that she would be successful in art. Her talent is extremely unique. She was working with and sculpting styrofoam at 17, 18 years old. Most adults have never even explored that stuff. She’s doing some really amazing things at a really young age,” Howard said. “The sky was the limit for her and I’m sure it still is.”

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