While most Kansas Citians were shouting from the rooftops in the seconds after the Chiefs Super Bowl victory, Megh Knappenberger was quietly writing down on the back of a grocery list an idea to capture the joyous spirit of the big win through artistic expression.
“I saw the confetti raining down on the players and in that moment I just saw this painting in my head,” said Knappenberger, owner of Megh Knappenberger Art. “I said out loud, ‘I wonder if I could get my hands on some of that confetti?’ I didn’t know anyone who had gone to the game, but I went upstairs to sketch the idea for it on a grocery list, right at that moment.”
“I mean everyone in Kansas City will never forget that moment, and for me, the confetti is a really visceral memory of that night,” she added.
The painting that ultimately resulted from her idea is representative of the undying optimism and triumphant comeback shown by the KC team, Knappenberger said.
“It was very inspiring to watch that team… they just never gave up and they just kept their spirits high throughout the entire game,” she said. “So this painting is kind of about both that fighting spirit but also that celebration. I really wanted to encompass the feeling of that in this and kind of commemorate and celebrate that confetti moment.”
Click here to read about Megh Knappenberger Art’s rare Jayhawk licensing deal that scored a $150k payday.
A simple ask on social media put Megh in touch with the Chiefs’ groundskeeper, Ryan Toma, who was present at the game and was shortly able to hand over an entire bag of the red and gold confetti — still smelling of wet grass from the Miami field where Kansas City defeated the San Francisco 49ers, she said.
“I was totally floored,” Knappenberger laughed. “It was so generous of him to take the time to meet me and give me this whole bag of confetti. Once I had it, I did have to lay it out on a table to dry it out because it was actually still damp from the field.”
“I wish that I could have somehow bottled up that smell because it smelled like the wet grass and there were little pieces of turf that were kind of mixed in,” she added. “That [caused] just this really cool, visceral moment of [remembering] all those pictures of the players running and diving into the confetti.”
Inspired by the spontaneity of the project, the creator decided to document the experience through social media and let followers in on her artistic process, said Knappenberger.
“I really wanted to share it. I thought that everyone would have fun watching this come to life because everyone’s kind of in the same mode of excitement and celebration around this,” she said. “They saw me working digitally to create the layout to figure out the lettering style and moving onto sketching the canvas to laying down layers of paint to finally add the actual confetti into the painting one by one.”
Click here to check out the Megh Knappenberger Art instagram story about the process behind the painting.
“It was kind of a fun process to share with everyone so they could see what it looks like to add confetti and just how I did that,” she added. “There’s all these fun little behind-the-scenes things that people got to see that I don’t typically showcase.”
The original painting is expected to be sold along with a limited run of prints to which the artist will also add paint and confetti, Knappenberger said. Open edition prints are expected to be available later in the year.
Click here to shop Megh Knappenberger Art collections. Some of Knappenberger’s wares also are available at the Made in KC Marketplace on the Country Club Plaza where she operates a kiosk.
Knappenberger expects to explore new ways to digitally showcase her work in 2020, she said, noting the support of a social media community fills the gaps left by the lack of a physical gallery for her work.
“I am doing my career in a very non-traditional way,” Knappenberger said. “I’m relying on things like social media to help create buzz and excitement around my work where I don’t have a big PR team who’s going out and pushing things for me.”
“I don’t have a gallery. It’s just me and a small team of people including family that are building and growing this brand where I take something that’s maybe not that exciting to everyone else — like a small bag of confetti — and alchemize it into something that’s really beautiful and celebratory and timeless,” she added. “That’s the type of thing I love to do.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.