Samples of Humphrey's past work. 

The new construction at the Kansas City International Airport has reached another milestone today after announcing 19 more artists chosen to create artwork in the new Terminal Concourses and garage.

The Build KCI project, which is slated to open in early 2023 will replace the aging three-terminal complex with a single, modern terminal and 6,000-plus garage space. The airport committed a $5.65 million budget for new public artworks and is the largest One Percent for Art project in Kansas City history.

The KCMO Public Art Program requires all construction, reconstruction or remodeling of any municipal building set aside 1% of the estimated cost of the improvements for acquisition and installation of “art works and other aesthetic adornments.”

With more than 1,900 total submissions for the project, 28 commissioned artists were chosen for new works to become part of the permanent collection at the Kansas City International Airport. Most of the artists are based in Kansas City or have local ties.

The selection panel was composed of arts professionals, educators, gallerists and curators outside of the Kansas City area to eliminate any bias.

The 19 artworks by local artists are slated for installation in departure lounges in Concourses A and B, at a commissioned budget of $20,000 each. The wall-based artwork will be located on the porcelain tile walls at the north and south ends of the gate lounges.

Artists’ proposals range in mediums and could be traditionally framed artworks, drawings, paintings, photography, textiles, mosaic or tile wall hangings, mixed-media or assemblage, digital art displays, artwork utilizing electricity or digital components, relief or wall-mounted sculptural works. 

One of the winning artists, self-proclaimed “people painter” Kwanza Humphrey focuses on the human form and face in his artwork. Humphrey, who has painted for more than 25 years, paints everyday people, highlighting the beauty in the ordinary. 

“I like to try and find the humanistic qualities of people, and the emotions that connect all of us. So I think there’s a commonality that runs through who we are as humans, and I try to express that through the diversity in what I paint,” Humphrey said. 

Five portrait style oil on canvas paintings are featured in his proposal for the Build KCI project. Humphrey said he wanted these portraits to represent Kansas City and the Midwest. 

“I think what makes a city are the people that live there,” Humphrey said. “There’s definitely a uniqueness to the Midwest and Kansas City, in particular. I think it’s better represented by the people that are here. We’re all trying to make it and be successful and be happy and live our lives.”

As people from all over the world come through KCI, Humphrey hopes they see his paintings, and not see Kansas City as just a flyover city, but a city with people they can relate to. 

“I’m very, very excited to be participating in it and I feel like I’m part of a really exciting and diverse group of artists,” Humphrey said. 

Another one of the local 19 artists is muralist JT Daniels, who has painted murals at Park University, Betty Rae’s Ice Cream, Ruby Jean’s and outside the Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City building. 

His style features overlapping faces and figures that represent the heartbeat of the urban community. In his proposal for Build KCI, animated faces are featured surrounded by buildings, with the words, “Tha Dotte,” “KC,” and “Sup,” which Daniels uses in some of his murals and stands for “surviving under pressure.”

“The panel did a fantastic job with a difficult task, and I’m pleased with their selections,” said James Martin, KCMO Public Art Administrator. “There are artists who have worked in the Kansas City area for many years who will be familiar to longtime observers. There are also artists who probably are not as familiar who contributed great proposals. I’m also thrilled with the diversity of media that will be on display, as well as the diversity that exists within this group of 19 artists.”

Artists will have until Fall 2022 to complete their commissioned artwork.

For more information about public art at KCI, visit More details of the whole New Terminal project are available at and on social media at @BuildKCI.

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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