Independence Center is on a renewed mission to enhance its visitor experience by forging meaningful partnerships with the surrounding community. The latest showcase of those efforts has transpired through an art project with the Kansas City Art Institute’s (KCAI) Sponsored Studio program to design column wraps for four approximately 40-foot pillars within the east and west wings of the Center.

The two KCAI Sponsored Studio students that were selected to display their designs, Lacey Vonderschmidt and Nehemiah Cisneros, met Independence Center’s challenge of creating vibrant designs that bring energy, color and excitement to the Center.

Vonderschmidt’s design depicts local plant life as a way of integrating natural elements into the mall, while Cisneros’ abstract approach uses positive and negative space to create movement without a single focal point.

Pillar project artists

Lacy Vonderschidt
Illustration 2019

Lacey Vonderschmidt is a 2019 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute with a BFA in Illustration. Lacey is an illustrator and comic artist who strives to create illustrations that inspire the beauty of eternity and ephemerality that life has to offer. Comic books and Japanese manga are her main sources of inspiration. She also graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in graphic design before coming to KCAI.

nehemiah Cisneros
Illustration 2021

Nehemiah Cisneros will be starting his senior year at KCAI to complete his BFA degree in Painting in May 2020. Cisneros transferred to KCAI from Los Angeles, CA. His art is influenced by popular culture images that have had an emotional connection with him since childhood, encouraging him to blur the lines between fear and humor while questioning the difference between hero and villain.

Pillar project sponsors

Art institue
Kansas City Art Institue

Founded in 1885, the Kansas City Art Institute is one of the oldest and most respected art and design colleges in the United States.  Located at 4415 Warwick in Kansas City, Mo., KCAI is a premier private, fully-accredited four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts in 13 majors.  KCAI’s mission is to prepare gifted students to transform the world creatively through art and design. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter: @KCArtInstitute, Facebook: and Instagram: KCArtInstitute


Sponsored Studio provides students with real-world, hands-on experiences and enhanced training for successful careers. Partnerships with local businesses offer unique educational opportunities for students while providing business partners with a fresh approach to their research and development, creative communications, and business challenges. Micro is a student design firm at KCAI that provides freelance illustration and design work to our business partners through the Sponsored Studio program.