Placemaking coordinator wants to involve all of Wichita State's campus

  • Placemaking coordinator Kristin Beal is searching for ideas and help from across Wichita State to organize, improve and build campus placemaking efforts.
  • Beal and her students worked on last year's Wulip Garden and are taking on projects such as the sunken patio at Ablah Library.
  • Wichita State's placemaking is designed to make the campus a place to explore and enjoy with art, music and events.

Kristin Beal will plan an art parade, open a gallery to a night of music by teenagers and cover statues with yarn. 

She doesn’t do those things alone, which is why she wants your help with Wichita State’s placemaking plans.

Beal ( is Wichita State’s newly hired placemaking coordinator, and almost all ideas, materials, formats and venues are in play when it comes to using art as a way to make the campus a place to enjoy and explore.

“One thing that makes her ideal for this is that she is somebody who is always looking for way to say ‘yes’ to different project ideas or other people,” said Kate Van Steenhuyse, who co-founded Harvester Arts with Beal and Ryan Gates in 2014. “Her default mode is, ‘How can we make this work?’”

Van Steenhuyse moved to Wichita a month before the Art Pride Parade in 2010 featured artists dressed as a speed bump and a traffic cone in Delano. In 2012, Beal organized Yarn Bombing to decorate pieces of Wichita State’s outdoor sculpture collection. At Harvester, Beal talked out a plan with a group of teens for a music show.

“They ended up having part of the admission being a food drive,” Van Steenhuyse said. “They took care of all the logistics we needed covered and it was wonderful. I realized, ‘Why not talk it through?’”

On a campus, everyone there is an asset. Everyone there has a superpower of some kind.
Kristin Beal,
Placemaking coordinator

That’s the spirit Beal wants to continue throughout Wichita State’s campus. She will help placemaking efforts under way, such as hammocks, decorating the stairs at Clinton Hall and brightening the sunken patio at Ablah Library.

Beal, a lecturer in the College of Fine Arts, will look for new projects with her students and through her role as gallery director at ShiftSpace, an off-campus student gallery. She met Ty Tabing, who started placemaking efforts on campus in September 2018, to work on the Wulip Garden project with her class.

“Placemaking is about creating an attachment to space,” Beal said. “There are many ways that’s done. Colorful furniture. Swings and hammocks and murals and all of that. Anything that makes somebody feel like this is their place is placemaking.”

Placemaking, Beal said, started years ago at Wichita State, although likely not under that name. She is eager to connect existing events – shows, talks, exhibits, contests and more - to the larger theme. Student involvement is important. She also wants to incorporate faculty research into placemaking.

“My goal is to reach out and find the many ways this is happening already and try to coordinate ways we can all work together,” she said. “I feel like it’s happening all over the place. We just need to corral it all and figure out how we can help each other. I want people to understand what placemaking is. Then they can identify themselves in that and get help. We can extend their reach.”

The Knight Foundation Fund at the Wichita Community Foundation provided a grant of $61,950 to help with the university’s strategic goal of empowering students to create their own campus culture and experience. 

“I want the campus community to read this, and if they think, ‘Oh, I do that,’ I want to know about it,” Beal said. “We need to establish all of our assets. On a campus, everyone there is an asset. Everyone there has a superpower of some kind. That’s why they’re there. Your interests are your superpowers.”

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