Into the Sun: Local artist brings New York to Kansas

Aug 24, 2014

Ironing out details at Garden City High School with Memphis.
Ironing out details at Garden City High School with Memphis.
Credit Kristen Doering

If you could cross Tinker Bell with a pit bull, you would have Kristen Doering.  The Garden City, Kansas native is a willow on a mission.  Armed with an idea to bring New York art to Kansas in an innovative way, giving the artists and the audience opportunity to create relationships and share experiences was her goal. 

She is an extremely talented pianist who began playing when she was three.  To make this dream a reality, she’s learned everything it takes.  This “loving dictator” as she’s known by the troupe has developed a budget, written grants, created a website, designed donor portfolios, privately raised funds, contracted with venues, hired artists, negotiated with printing companies, coordinated schedules, and above all that created a structure that gives guidance, yet allows the performers to explore their creativity.

Here are her words about the project:

This past summer I performed four times in Kansas during a three week period. Twice with violinist Maria Im, and twice with mezzo soprano Elizabeth Fildes. It is hard for me to fully describe how overwhelming each of these performances was for me. To feel the genuine appreciation for this craft from the audiences, the support system I've been lucky to have my entire life, was a feeling I will never forget. Those three weeks inspired an idea, a vision, for what is now The American Fusion Project.

This is not a school-initiated project or a class requirement. It is simply because I believe in the arts and feel a certain responsibility to make sure there is a place for the arts in the future. This is my contribution. The exciting, fast-paced world of New York City may seem inaccessible at times when surrounded by the wheat fields of Kansas (however beautiful and golden they may be) and so I am choosing to become the link from New York to Kansas through this project. 

I cannot wait to bring this project to Kansas to share my world in New York with the many friends, family members, and students across Kansas. This project is taking me outside of my comfort zone, constantly pushing me to grow, think on my feet, and most importantly, helping to strengthen old ties and create new partnerships.   

The tour starts in Garden City on Tuesday, September 2, at the Garden City High School, continues in Lawrence on Thursday, September 4, and ending on Saturday, September 6, in Kansas City.   

More about the project, the tour, and the performers can be found online at Arts Fusion Initiative.