Five Things You Don’t Know About Me: Nelson-Atkins Lighting Designer Jake Ludemann

Ask Jake Ludemann the most important part of “Lights! Camera! Action!”—and he’d likely point out lights were first on the list, for a litany of reasons. The lifelong KC native (and KCAI graduate) found his passion in lighting design at an early age. Now he’s worked his way up the ranks at the esteemed Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art where he is a lighting designer and project manager. “In 2019 the Museum nominated me for a scholarship to the Bloch School at UMKC, where I graduated with my executive MBA this spring,” he says. “On Valentine’s Day this year, the Museum opened one of the most exciting lighting design projects of my career, Monet Water Lilies: From Dawn to Dusk, a unique exhibition that combines immersive lighting with a soundscape tailored to the gardens of Giverny where Monet painted.”

Ludemann/Photo credit: Tiffany Matson

We caught up with the lighting guru and technical artiste to find out five things you don’t know about him:

5) I’m an avid birdwatcher.
“I discovered this hobby early during our lockdown in March of 2020. Looking with a small pair of binoculars through the window in my home office gave me a small escape from being stuck inside. Adding bird feeders to the mix brought in new and exciting species. For me, it feels like real life Pokémon! To date, I estimate I’ve seen over 50 birds, all in my own backyard.”

4) I’m seriously obsessed with tea.
“Also borne out of the pandemic, a lifelong taste for tea has turned into a major passion. A canceled trip to Japan led me to instead investigate Japanese green tea. When I drink it, I like to think about tasting the specific place that the tea came from – like scotch or wine. More details about my tea journey can be found here.”

3) I’m a total metalhead.
“My music tastes are wide and varied, but my love for metal puts the rest to shame. For me, no other musical style has the same depth and variety available. Subgenres can cater to any taste, from loud and fast to quiet and atmospheric. Some might associate metal with high energy activity and getting revved up, but I usually listen to relax and recuperate—sometimes when I practice yoga. My favorite genres are sludge, doom, and prog metal. Favorite bands? Pallbearer, Thou, and Ghost Bath.”

2) I’m a hobby hopper.
“In my free time, I love to get outdoors and to get physical, but I have a hard time sticking to a specific activity. My pattern is to dive deep into something for nine to 12 months, and then to move on to what’s next. In the past few years, I’ve moved through yoga, climbing, canoeing, and biking. Last year, I tallied almost 2,000 miles between my road, gravel, and stationary bikes. This summer, my passion has been swimming.”

1) At home and at work, I’m a sprinter.
“It might sound like I take relaxing seriously—because I do—but I also get a thrill from getting things done. One of my most stressful (yet favorite) days this last year was in April, when my water heater broke the night before my final presentation for the Bloch EMBA program at UMKC. I was up late that night fixing the water heater but ran into a dead end right after the hardware store closed! After a cold shower the next morning, I wrapped up my coursework, finished the heater install, and still made it to the Royals game to celebrate that night.”