An Angel in America: Remembering Jaymes Leahy

An Exhibition in Two Parts
June 2 – July 31, 2023 | Special Collections Gallery | Miller Nichols Library and
KCAI Gallery, Kansas City Art Institute

Curated by: Ann Wederquist Leahy

The ‘past’ is… a physical reality approached through memory… leaving a boundless impression which remains the significant motivation of my life.

Jaymes Leahy, 1990

Jaymes Leahy’s was a lively and humorous creative intelligence, and his work was not content in a single medium. His confident drawing and lyrical compositions built evocative architectures of layered texture and luminous color. He strove in his drawings and patterns, printed textiles and botanical sculptures to realize family memories and their attendant depths of feeling – with a twinkling eye, and a light touch. He found his creative footing at Kansas City Art Institute and pursued a freelance design profession in Europe and America. He returned to study at Cranbrook Academy and then at Yale University. His joyous life and a promising career were cut short by HIV disease in 1994. His talent, his accomplishments, his life should not be measured against the specter of AIDS yet cannot be understood apart from it.

This exhibit presents Leahy’s works from 1986 until his death in 1994 and is co-incident with the 40th anniversary of the first cases of HIV diagnosed and treated in Kansas City. Leahy’s papers, journals and select works will be accepted into the collection of the Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at UMKC Libraries.

Essays by Jason Pollen, Professor Emeritus, KCAI and Ruben Castillo (’12, Printmaking) Visiting Assistant Professor, KCAI. Curated by Ann Wederquist Leahy, organized by Stuart Hinds and Christopher Leitch. Ann Wederquist Leahy is founder of the Magic Sock Fund, a competitive project-specific grant opportunity for KCAI students. The Fund was established in memory of Jaymes Leahy (’87 Fiber). Stuart Hinds is Curator of Special Collections, University Libraries, UMKC and adjunct faculty at KCAI. Christopher Leitch (’84 Fiber) is an artist and independent museum professional in Kansas City.

The exhibit can be viewed during the library’s open hours. Metered parking is available in the parking lot north of the library. Meters must be paid using the AMP Park mobile app or online at

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Case dimensions: 5’ long x 30” wide x 9” high sitting atop 3’ legs

Glass exhibit table


The First Floor Gallery is located just inside the main entrance of the Miller Nichols Library.

Wall with exhibit content

Conference Room 325

Located on the Third Floor of Miller Nichols Library. For access, enter the library at the north ground floor entrance or the west first floor entrance. Then take the stairs or the elevator to the third floor..

Map of third floor of Miller Nichols Library