The Art Of Data Takes Kansas City's Statistics, Turns Them Into Art

Jun 8, 2015

A new exhibit in Kansas City Crossroads district takes the city's data and turns it into visual art.

"The Art of Data" made its grand opening at ArtsKC Friday after months of planning. Dozens of First Friday patrons came to see the pieces, which are based on statistics like life expectancy by zip code and the city's homicide rate.

Exhibit organizer Julie Steenson says there was no question about whether to shy away from such topics.

City Manager Troy Schulte and Mayor Sly James joined the opening of the exhibit, which drew dozens of First Friday's patrons to ArtsKC.
Credit Cody Newill / KCUR

"This is the citizens' data. There's no reason to hide it, there's no reason to back away from a trend, even if the trend is negative," Steenson said. "If the trend is negative, and we interact with the data that's turned into art, maybe we can change some things and start a policy conversation."

Father-daughter team David and Rachel Longstreet are two of the exhibit's contributors. David is a data scientist and says that the project helped him realize the value of presenting data with an artistic mindset.

"It's really important to think about data from a completely different perspective," David said. "This project has challenged the way I think and how I present data, even when I work with people now."

Rachel, who is a painter, says that the process of working with her father was challenging, but gratifying.

Rachel and David Longstreet's project, titled "Machine."
Credit Cody Newill / KCUR

"It was definitely a back and forth kind of project," Rachel said. "It was good to collaborate with someone who is an expert in their field, but doesn't know anything about yours. I think that art should always be made that way."

The Art of Data will be on display at ArtsKC until June 24.