An artist from Kansas City wanted a new direction. This led to a giant sunflower in Prairie Village | KCUR 89.3

For most of her professional career, Amie Jacobsen has been a graphic designer, painter and illustrator of children’s books. Then, about seven years ago, she decided to take up welding.

“Ever since I was little,” she said, “all I thought was, you know, I was going to be an artist.”

Carlos Moreno

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KCUR 89.3

Amie Jacobsen, right, stands around some of the steel components with her team, Megan Bryde, left, and Kai Huffhines inside Jacobsen’s studio in Independence.

Jacobsen moved to the Kansas City metro area in 2007. Originally from Colorado, she studied studio art and painting in college before moving with two young children to Georgia to earn a master’s degree in illustration at Savannah College. of Art and Design.

Here she taught online classes, illustrated children’s books and created paintings for galleries.

“At one point,” she said, “I was just burning out.”

Looking for a new direction, she was watching a local art show on Kansas City PBS when inspiration struck.

“I saw a shop on Arts Upload on public television one night (when I was working) on ​​an illustration,” she said, “and it was called Machine Head, owned by Dick Jobe.”

So she called Jobe, who ran the Crossroads Arts District fabrication shop, to see if he had any ideas of where she could learn to weld.

“He was just really nice and said to me, ‘Well, I take interns sometimes. Why don’t you come over and you can run some errands for me and, you know, and I’ll teach you how to weld. ‘”

A person wearing a blue shirt and a yellow welding helmet uses a torch to melt a large ring of metal.  Sparks fly and metal parts are visible in the foreground.

Carlos Moreno

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KCUR 89.3

Amie Jacobsen welds a joint to a steel ring that will be part of the “Gateway” metal sculpture.

Jacobsen spent two years working full-time at the boutique. During this time, she met artists working on public art and sculpture projects and knew she wanted to try.

She won her first major commission – a curvy piece of stainless steel – for a hospital in Davenport, Iowa. But, first, she needed her own tools.

“So I went and rented my own space and bought a welder, some cut-off wheels, an angle grinder and a cut-off saw,” she laughed, “and built a sculpture.”

A pair of hands hold a gray steel frame and sheet metal roughly shaped like a flower petal.

Carlos Moreno

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KCUR 89.3

Amie Jacobsen shows where the steel petals will be bolted to the “Gateway” sculpture.

That was in 2017. Jacobsen now creates sculptures, furniture, and public art in his own studio in Independence, Missouri.

Some, crafted from stainless steel and glass, are inspired by nature, such as plants and insects – wildflowers up to 12 feet tall in Oklahoma; a 12-foot butterfly in Florida; and a 12-foot sunflower in Kansas.

On a recent visit to Jacobsen’s shop in an industrial building in Independence, two of his assistants were hard at work on his latest installation titled “Gateway,” a sunflower-shaped archway for Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village, Kansas.

“So we’re making petals and parts and parts for all the petals,” she said, “and we’re starting to prepare our main structure.”

When installed this summer, it will be the first public art in the 80-acre park.

Three people pose with different steel pieces in the shape of sunflower petals.  Behind them is a large steel ring and tools and equipment used for metalworking.

Carlos Moreno

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KCUR 89.3

Amie Jacobsen, center, stands in the frame of the metal sculpture “Gateway” with its makers, Megan Bryde, left, and Kai Huffhines in her studio in Independence.

The center of the sunflower is an arch nearly 12 feet high with 24 cast glass and steel petals.

But also important to this piece will be those illustrated panels that go up the sides of the arches, inside the center of the flower that showcases the history of the park and surrounding area,” she said.

The panels will be covered in mirror polished stainless steel and as people walk through they will see their own reflections.

A woman stands holding a large yellow metal sculpture in the shape of a flower petal.  Behind her are steel shelves filled with metal parts.

Carlos Moreno

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KCUR 89.3

Amie Jacobsen exhibits a partially constructed petal that will adorn the “Gateway” metal sculpture she and her team are working on.

Jacobsen’s boutique is tucked away in a residential neighborhood just down the street from Englewood Arts. There is therefore a synergy with the arts district of Independence.

Jacobsen and her husband, Tim O’Neill, purchased this building in July. He runs The Urban Lumber Company, reusing lumber harvested from local trees.

They also have plans for a showroom and community carpentry shop.

“It would be for four or five people who could rent a designated area,” she says, “and then they could share all the big tools that most people don’t have in their garages.”

Jacobsen says she hopes the space will provide a new direction for other artists — while supporting her own.

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