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This Kansas City Artist Flies Through The Air, So It's Not Surprising She Lives In A Church

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Julie Denesha
/
KCUR 89.3FM
Rachel McMeachin is the owner and co-founder of Voler, Thieves of Flight, located in a converted Russian Orthodox Church in Kansas City, Kansas.

Kansas City audiences might have caught a performance of the aerial troupe Rachel McMeachin co-founded — Voler Thieves of Flight — at events such as the KC Fringe Festival, Dance in the Park or The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's Party Arty.

When she heads home from those performances, or after one of her working trips to Costa Rica or Bali, she arrives on the steps of an onion-domed former church in the Russian Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas.

Scroll around as this 360 video takes you into the space, with its soaring 20-foot ceilings during the Saturday morning open gym McMeachin holds each week:


Six years ago, McMeachin had a studio in the West Bottoms. She wasn’t looking to move, but a Craigslist ad about a mysterious old church for sale piqued her curiosity.

“I came in and and immediately fell in love,” McMeachin says. “The loft that I’d been in before, in the West Bottoms, I also loved dearly. It had this very dirty industrial charm. But this space feels like a home.”

The building once housed Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, which was founded in 1917. The building was sold in the late 1990s to accommodate an expanding church membership; the congregation is now in Overland Park.

McMeachin lives in the loft upstairs and uses the space to rehearse and teach aerial silk performance to her young students.

“The fact that I can live here as well as work here kind of streamlines things,” McMeachin says. “If I’m feeling inspired or I have an idea to work on something, I just have to come downstairs and practice and play and test it out.”

Large windows fill the space with light and allow her to catch sunrises and views of the Kansas City skyline. McMeachin says the building has helped shaped her life and work.

“This space makes me happy,” she says. “Every single day I wake up and I just feel absolutely blessed. It was a remarkable just chance event that I was able to acquire it.”

This story is part of a series using 360 video to bring readers into unusual studio spaces of artists in the Kansas City area.

Julie Denesha is a freelance photographer and reporter for KCUR. Follow her on Twitter, @juliedenesha.

Julie Denesha is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Kansas City. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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