Kati Toivanen grew up in Finland and initially came to the United States for her formal art education. What started as studying abroad lead to her becoming a naturalized American citizen in 2006. Since receiving her Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1992, Toivanen has been an active artist and university educator. One of Toivanen’s fifteen solo art exhibitions was favorably reviewed in Art in America and her works have been published and exhibited nationally and abroad. In addition, she has completed six funded site-specific temporary public art projects and received several grants to support her creative production.
During the summer of 2016 she installed photographic public art projects in downtown Lawrence, KS, and in front of City Hall, Kansas City, MO. In 2015 she featured an installation of seventy digitally composed images in Washington Square Park, Kansas City, MO. Toivanen was selected as the featured artist for the 2014 ArtsKC Awards luncheon and commissioned to create nine new photographic works. In the spring of 2013 she was an Artist Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts developing a new body of work funded by the University of Missouri Research Board grant. In 2001 Toivanen received a Charlotte Street Award, a highly regarded artist grant in Kansas City.
In her work, Toivanen explores personal history and narrative through imagery, objects, and installations, often incorporating elements of play and games.
Professor Toivanen is currently appointed as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She previously served as the Chair of the Art & Art History Department.