Peter Sellars to speak at Kansas City Art Institute Commencement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (April 30, 2013) — Jacqueline Chanda, Ph.D., president of the Kansas City Art Institute, has announced that opera, theater and festival director Peter Sellars will speak at the college’s commencement exercises, which will take place at 2 p.m. May 18 at Unity Temple on the Country Club Plaza.

Chanda described Sellars as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts in America and abroad. A visionary artist, Sellars is known for ground-breaking interpretations of classic works. Whether it is Mozart, Handel, Shakespeare, Sophocles or the 16th century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu, Sellars strikes a universal chord with audiences, engaging and illuminating contemporary social and political issues.

A graduate of Harvard University, Sellars was appointed artistic director of the American National Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., at the age of 26. Between 1984 and 1986, he originated seven productions there and presented 18 others from a wide range of American and international theater companies. His landmark ANT staging of Sophocles’ “Ajax,” set at the Pentagon, was invited to tour Europe and ignited an international career.

Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals, the 2002 Adelaide Arts Festival in Australia and the 2003 Venice Biennale International Festival of Theater in Italy. In 2006 he was artistic director of New Crowned Hope, a month-long festival in Vienna for which he invited international artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to create new work in the fields of music, theater, dance, film, the visual arts and architecture for the city of Vienna’s Mozart Year celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.

Sellars is a professor in the department of world arts and cultures at the University of California-Los Angeles and a resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize, the Sundance Institute Risk-Takers Award and the Gish Prize and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the Kansas City Art Institute

The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers certificate programs in Community Arts and Service Learning and in Asian Studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at the H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at


Contact: Anne Canfield, 816-802-3426 or

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