Site 9: Eskenazi Hall (HR)
(Herron School of Art)
735 W. New York St.
Courtesy IUPUI www.iupui.edu/building/hr.ntml
Women and the Herron School of Art and Design
When Eskenazi Hall, home of the Herron School of Art and Design, opened in June 2005, it was truly a time of celebration for the school. In its 103 years, Herron had seen many changes, most notably its change in identity from a privately run institution led by the Art Association of Indianapolis to a school within IUPUI. Herron's merger with Indiana University finalized in 1967. Following the formation of IUPUI in 1969, Herron became a part of the new university, but, for years, remained physically separated from the main IUPUI campus. Finally, in 2000, a sculpture and ceramics facility opened on IUPUI's campus, followed by the subsequent opening of Herron's main facility on New York Street in 2005.
The Herron School of Art has a rich history as Indianapolis's fourth, and only lasting, art school. Prior to Herron's opening in 1902, only three art schools had operated in Indianapolis. The first of these was John Love and James Gookins's 1877 Indiana School of Art. It closed in 1879. In 1884, the Art Association of Indianapolis opened its first art school in English's Hall downtown. Charles McDonald and Susan Ketcham taught the school's art courses. McDonald had come from the Chicago Art League. Ketcham was a painter and charter member of the Art Association of Indianapolis, which organized in 1883. After just one year, the school was in such financial trouble that it could only afford one teacher, and eliminated Ketcham's position. She then traveled to Europe and eventually settled in New York. The Art Association's school only lasted two years, and closed in 1886. 1
In 1889, T. C. Steele opened a third Indianapolis art school at Circle Hall. William Forsyth joined him in 1891, but financial problems again plagued this new school. It most likely would have also failed if art patrons in Indianapolis had not offered their support. With these patrons' financial help, the school reorganized and incorporated in May 1891. Steele taught at the school until 1895, at which time he quit to devote his full attention to painting. Forsyth continued teaching until January 1897, when English Hotel's expansion plans forced the school to vacate its location. By that time, news had spread of a large gift pending for the Art Association of Indianapolis that would finally offer them the financial stability necessary to run a viable art school, and Forsyth closed his school. 2
In April 1895, John Herron, a wealthy Indianapolis real estate investor seeking remedy for ill health in California, sustained fatal injuries in a house fire in Los Angeles. He died two weeks later on May 2, 1895. Herron had never been a philanthropist, but in the years before his death, his wife's death in 1891 and lack of children left him in search of a good cause to donate his fortune. 3
John Herron, n.d., UA24-004772
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
After surveying the needs of the city, Herron decided that the residents of Indianapolis would most benefit from improved access to art. He deeded $225,000 to the Art Association of Indianapolis, for the purpose of opening a new art school and museum. His gift stipulated that the new institution bear his name. The Art Association earmarked $150,000 of the gift for art acquisition, $10,000 for art school operation, and $65,000 to procure a building and grounds. 4
After examining several locations, the Art Association eventually decided to locate their institution at Talbott House, the former home of Hoosier Group painter T.C. Steele, at the corner of Sixteenth and Pennsylvania Streets. The purchase cost $50,000, and two adjoining lots were donated to the association. Talbott House officially became the property of the Art Association on April 9, 1901. The school opened in January 1902 with 10 students and expanded to 69 students by March. The school employed five teachers headed by prominent Hoosier painter, J. Ottis Adams. Anna Turrell, the niece of John Herron, was hired as the curator and manager of the museum. She held this position until 1905, at which time she became the school's librarian. 5
Herron Main Building Exterior, 1933, UA24-003842
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the school's initial enrollments heavily drew female students, both those who wanted to become professional artists and those who wanted to gain the status of an "accomplished" young woman. These female students mostly came from the central region of the state; other women studied in Chicago, Cincinnati, or at prestigious Eastern schools. 6 The school and museum expanded quickly and by 1905, had outgrown Talbott House. It was demolished in September to make way for a new building. A new museum opened November 20, 1906, and in 1907 separate quarters for the school opened. By the 1920s, the Herron School of Art was again out of space, and opened another new classroom building capable of holding two hundred and fifty full-time students on July 10, 1929. 7
Herron survived the Great Depression and World War II, and by the 1960s sought to redefine itself. On June 24, 1965, the Art Association of Indianapolis announced that it planned to separate the museum and the art school. The school would affiliate with Indiana University Indianapolis. The separation, however, was temporarily halted by controversy over the location of a new museum facility. A year later, on October 20, 1966, the children of Josiah Kirby Lilly, Jr. donated the family estate on 38th street to the Art Association of Indianapolis if it would agree to locate the museum, now known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art, there. The Metropolitan Plan Commission voted for the necessary rezoning. Herron's merger with Indiana University Indianapolis (later IUPUI) became official on July 1, 1967, with Donald Mattison, Herron's former director, as the school's first dean. 8
The history of the Herron School of Art and Design is deeply connected to women. Besides planning the original school in 1902, these women have also sat on its board of directors, taught classes, and held many different leadership positions.
Women Shaping Herron Prior to 1967
Many women worked together to help Herron develop in the years prior to its merger with Indiana University in 1967. As board members, teachers, and administrators, these women kept Herron afloat during turbulent years.
"Herron Art School Exterior, n.d.," UA24-003676,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
May Wright Sewall and the Art Association of Indianapolis
Truly the visionary of the Herron School of Art, May Wright Sewall founded the Art Association of Indianapolis in 1883. Sewall, a leading Indianapolis educator, clubwoman, and suffragette, is best remembered as the founder of the Girls Classical School in Indianapolis and as a charter member of the Equal Suffrage Society of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Woman's Club. She would also go on to found the Indianapolis Propylaeum Association, a stock company of women that raised the money to build a cultural center for women, also named the Indianapolis Propylaeum, which opened in 1891. 9 A historian once noted, "She was instrumental in bringing to Indianapolis many of the best lecturers on various subjects and assisted in establishing many permanent innovations." 10
May Wright Sewall
Reproduced from the collections of
the Library of Congress
Sewall decided to start an art association in Indianapolis after organizing a series of art lectures between 1881 and 1883. At the last of these lectures, Sewall invited the other attendees to meet at her house in March 1883 to discuss the formation of an art association. At the meeting, charter members formed a committee to draw up a constitution, which was formally adopted at a public meeting in May. The Art Association of Indianapolis incorporated on October 11, 1883 with a membership of 54 for the purposes of receiving gifts and transacting business, foreshadowing their interest in collecting art and operating a school. They intended "to provide opportunities for the public to look at pictures…and to provide opportunity for instruction in art." 11
In 1895, when John Herron died, it was Sewall who first received the news of his will. She was serving as the president of the Art Association at the time. Ambrose Stanton, Herron’s attorney, arrived at the Girls Classical School one morning with the news that Herron had left the association $225,000. Sewall and the other officers quickly organized a public meeting to share the happy news, but soon found their attempts to spend the money mired by Herron’s relatives, who contested his will. Through the lengthy legal battle, Sewall and the other officers persevered and eventually won. By 1902, they had received the necessary court orders to spend the money and promptly opened their school. 12
Edna Mann Shover, Principal of the Herron School of Art
An artist in watercolors and pen and ink, Shover first came to Herron as a student in 1905, where Hoosier Group artist J. Ottis Adams instructed her. She returned to the school in 1919, and took a position as an art instructor. Just two years later, in 1921, Shover became the school's principal, a position that she held until 1933. 13
Shover stepped into the position of principal following a series of serious setbacks for the Herron School of Art. Beginning in 1917 with the inception of World War I, Herron experienced a steep decrease in financial support as a result of diverted funding for the war effort. To increase its viability in these hard times, the school began teaching practical courses in drafting and map-making for men and educational therapy for wounded soldiers for women. Then, in the fall of 1918, the worldwide influenza epidemic closed the school. Further tragedy struck in 1920 when May Wright Sewall, the school's visionary, passed away. Her death was followed by that of another longtime board member, Volney Mallott, and the resignation of Harold Brown, director of the art school and museum. 14
In the wake of these many tragedies, it was the women of Herron that kept both the school and museum afloat as a period of transition years emerged. From 1921 until a new director was hired in 1923, Shover partnered with faculty member Anna Hasselman and executive secretary Grace Speer to manage the school and museum. This same group of women would later serve as administrators in 1926, when director Arthur MacLean announced his resignation. 15
During Shover's tenure as principal, she helped to begin Herron's summer school program at Winona Lake, Indiana. She later oversaw the construction of the new art school facility, which was dedicated in December 1929. In fact, her efforts towards the successful completion of the new art school building were so widely regarded that in 1930, Shover became the first woman to receive the gold medal award from the Alumni Association of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (of which she was an alumni). 16
In 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Board of Directors hired Donald Mattison as the first separate director of the art school. In an effort to consolidate staffing, strengthen programs and cut costs, Mattison fired nine faculty members including Shover, who retired from Herron and died in 1965. 17
Lucy Taggart: Artist, Teacher, and Board Member
Born in 1880, Lucy Taggart began training as a professional artist at a time when few Indiana women chose to pursue a career in art. During the Victorian Era (c. 1840-1900), women were expected to confine their activities to their homes, as wives and mothers. Those who attempted to pursue careers were often ridiculed. 18 Women wanting to become professional artists thus faced considerable discrimination. For example, they were often barred from studying certain art forms, like anatomy. Lucy Taggart was among the early female artists in Indiana who chose to overcome these obstacles and follow her passion. She became a painter of portraits and landscapes, and several of her paintings are owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. 19
Taggart was the daughter of Indianapolis mayor Thomas Taggart. She grew up in Indianapolis, and as a young woman, studied art with Hoosier painter William Forsyth. Taggart later moved to New York, where she studied at the Art Students League of New York and with William Merritt Chase, a prominent painter and educator. Upon completing her training, Taggart continued painting in a studio apartment in New York City and later purchased a scenic property in Massachusetts. In 1931, family responsibilities forced Taggart to leave her beloved eastern property and return to Indianapolis. 20
While she had been a member of the board of directors since 1915, her return to Indianapolis would prompt a renewed interest in the Herron School of Art. In fact, Taggart could not have returned at a better time. In the midst of Herron's financial troubles brought on by the Great Depression, she plunged in and worked to save the school.
Most notably, from 1931-1943, Taggart served as an unpaid member of the faculty, teaching painting and portraiture. She also aided in the Board of Director's search for the Herron School of Art's first separate director, and according to Skirting the Issue: Stories of Indiana’s Historical Women Artists, was blamed for the hiring of Donald Mattison after he fired several teachers including William Forsyth. Available records, however, seem to indicate that Caroline Marmon Fesler played the larger role in Mattison's appointment. Despite the controversy over Mattison's actions, Taggart remained an influential member of the board until her death in 1960. The wife of a Herron director recalled to the authors of Skirting the Issue, "She was straight-forward and always dependable. If something was required of her, she did it. If there was something that needed to be done and she could do it, she did it." 21
Caroline Marmon Fesler, Art Patron and Board Member
A patron of the arts, rather than an artist herself, Caroline Marmon Fesler served on the board of directors of Herron for over thirty years. During these years, she served in many leadership capacities, including as a member of the fine arts committee, as the chair of the art school committee, and as president of the Art Association. She also donated both money and works of art to the school and its museum. 22
Originally from Richmond, Fesler was raised in the Quaker faith. Her family moved to Indianapolis when she was a girl, where her father became the president of one of the city's power and light companies and opened Marmon Motor Car Company. Fesler loved art and music, never able to devote her life to one over the other. She enrolled at Smith College, earning her degree in 1898. She also studied in Paris. In 1917, Fesler married James W. Fesler, an attorney and member of Indiana University's Board of Trustees. 23
Fesler became a member of Herron's Board of Directors in 1916. During her years of service to the board, first as a member and later as its president, she contributed considerable time and resources to the success of the school and the museum. Fesler's monetary gifts were largely made possible through a large inheritance of around $1 million dollars, left to her by her mother. In 1928, when Herron faced a lack of both space and money, Fesler donated $200,000 for the construction of a new art school building. Later, during the Great Depression, she led a search committee in the spring of 1933 to find the art school's first director. Previously, the museum and school had shared the same director. During the depression years, the school had experienced great financial loss that resulted in the board's decision to reduce staff pay, suspend the monthly bulletin, reduce the exhibition budget, and transfer the museum's savings to the school's budget. Faced with an uncertain future, they sought to hire a director with a vision to save the school from financial distress. Fesler recommended Donald Mattison, a New York artist, for the position and offered to pay his salary. Mattison intended to reorganize the school's curriculum to orient it for career-minded students. His initial legacy, however, was his decision to fire nine of Herron's fifteen faculty, most notably Hoosier Group artist William Forsyth. Over the years, however, Mattison became highly regarded as an efficient and devoted leader. 24
Over the years, Fesler also donated many pieces of artwork to the Herron Museum (now the Indianapolis Museum of Art). These included Van Gogh's "Landscape at St. Remy", Cezanne's "House in Provence", and Seurat's "The Channel of Gravelines, Petit Fort Philippe." The Herron Chronicle recalls an amusing anecdote of Fesler's love for modern art. The Board of Directors tended to prefer conservative, old school artwork, but eventually decided that they needed to at least own one Picasso. The Board was prepared to purchase "Ma Jolie" for $3800 when a final vote by Booth Tarkington, Dr. Clowes, and Lucy Taggart vetoed the purchase. Fesler, not wanting to lose the painting, purchased it herself and loaned it to the museum. She later left the painting to the museum in her will. 25
Fesler remained an active member of the board until 1947. In that year, ill health forced her to resign. Fesler died on December 28, 1960. In her will, she left Herron $500,000 for improvements to their property and several paintings from her private collection, including "Music" by Picasso, "Seated Girl" by Matisse, "Still Life with Red Fish" by Georges Braque, "Street of Arcades" by Giorgio di Chireo, "Horse and Rider" by Marc Chagall, and "Circus Horse" by Marie Laurencen. 26 Through both her time and money, Fesler had greatly expanded Herron's museum collections and successfully led the school through years of change and growth.
Women Shaping Herron After 1967
Phyllis Danielson, Herron's First Director of Art Education
"Phyllis I. Danielson," UA24-006017,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
While women played crucial roles in Herron's early development, few were hired under Donald Mattison's tenure between 1933 and 1970. Under his authority, only one woman was hired as a full-time faculty member during these years. Sarah Boden Burns joined the staff in 1962 and remained until retiring in 1996. Burns taught classes in design and printing. Only a handful of additional women served as part-time lecturers during the 1960s. Consequently, by the time the Herron School of Art merged with Indiana University in 1967, women were notably absent from the school.
During the 1970s, an increasing number of women faculty brought a renewed vitality to Herron. One of these women was Phyllis Danielson, who came to Herron in 1970 as the school's first director of art education. Danielson came to Herron with graduate degrees from Michigan State University and Indiana University. She had spent the prior two years teaching at the University of North Carolina, and later admitted that she originally had some doubts about accepting the position. "When I considered coming back to Indiana," she told an Indianapolis News reporter, "I thought, 'Oh no, it will be awful.' As Thomas Wolfe said, 'you can't go home again.' But setting up a new department at Herron, that was too exciting to turn down. And I had never lived in Indianapolis before. It has been like a new city for me. I've loved every minute of it." 27
Upon arriving at Herron, Danielson was charged with heading a new art education department. She began as the only full-time faculty member teaching art education. Danielson taught secondary art methods, advanced art education, and elementary art methods. By 1971, a total of 84 students had enrolled in the program. Courses were offered both to students in the Herron School of Art and to education majors. Danielson also worked to establish a masters program in Art Education. 28
Danielson truly believed in community outreach, and strove to share art with children in the local Indianapolis community. Under her guidance, Herron began offering a variety of free community programs during the summer of 1972. These programs included summer art classes for grade school, high school, and college students; free theater and dance classes; and concerts for both children and adults. Besides art, Herron also offered grade school students the opportunity to take classes in storytelling, puppetry, and photography. Danielson believed that these programs would provide "an enriched cultural background, increased employment skills, and…the educational background needed to become professional artists and teachers." 29
"Herron Student Mural, ca. 1958," UA24-004817,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
In 1972, Danielson resigned her position as Director of Art Education to become chair of Art Studies. Between 1970 and 1975, she also served on a number of important university committees. Danielson sat on Herron's curriculum committee; chaired their academic appeals committee; served as secretary of the IUPUI faculty council; chaired the academic affairs and bicentennial committees; and was a member of the research and development committee, the academic coordinating council, and the long-range campus planning committee. She also served on the IUPUI Salary Equalization Committee, initiated by Frances Rhome, the university's Affirmative Action officer. In 1973, Danielson served on Herron's executive committee while the school searched for a new dean. During this interim period, the committee successfully lobbied IUPUI for salary increases for Herron faculty equal to the amounts paid to faculty in other IUPUI departments. 30
Besides organizing a new division of art education at Herron and shaping the future of IUPUI through her work on these many committees, perhaps Danielson's most visible contribution to the university is the tall metal sculpture in the courtyard near University Library, facing New York Street. In 1975, Danielson organized a committee to procure a piece of public art for this space. The committee's efforts continued after her departure in 1976, and resulted in the 1980 instillation of an untitled piece by artist David Von Schlegell of Yale University. Danielson left IUPUI in the summer of 1976, after being named president of the Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 31
Carol Adney and the Transformation of the Herron Gallery
In only a few short years, Carol Adney left her mark on the Herron School of Art and Design both by greatly increasing its national reputation and by establishing a community of supporters for the school. She brought with her a strong vision of success, which she quickly implemented. Adney once noted, "I wanted to make (the gallery) the best I possibly could as far as showing nationally important contemporary art, art produced in the last two or three years." 32
Prior to accepting a position at Herron, Adney worked as an artist in residence at the Indianapolis Art League and as an assistant curator for educational programming at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. 33 She came to Herron in August 1978 as the first director of the Herron Gallery. Faculty volunteers had formerly operated the gallery. As director of the gallery, Adney worked to make Herron a center of contemporary art. Her first exhibit, titled "Artwords and Bookwords," debuted in September 1978 and featured artists' books, postcards, journals, and poetry. Another successful exhibit, "The Chicago Alternative," featured an exemplary array of diverse contemporary art. Adney also arranged a visit from New York sculptor Dennis Oppenheimer, who helped Herron students create an original gallery piece. 34
Adney's art shows quickly brought Herron national attention for its willingness to embrace contemporary art. In recognition for this achievement, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Herron Gallery a $6000 grant in November 1979. This was Indiana's first award in the category of "Artist's Spaces." The grant paid for the December 1979 exhibit of Michael Brewster's sound sculptures and a May 1980 light instillation by Arizona sculptor James Turrell. 35
Besides arranging contemporary art exhibits, Adney supervised the annual student and senior class art shows and the biennial faculty art exhibit. She also partnered with Sharon Theobald of the Lafayette Art Center to organize a sculpture competition for the placement of outdoor monuments in the White River Park. 36
Adney truly believed that the Herron Gallery offered the community a great educational opportunity. She once told the Indianapolis News "The Herron Gallery encourages a challenging dialog in the visual arts." At the same time, she knew that much of the Indianapolis community was not aware of its existence. To remedy this situation, Adney helped Dean Arthur Weber create a community support group for the gallery consisting of artists and local leaders interested in contemporary art. The 'Friends of Herron,' as the group is now known, continues to provide donors and volunteers to the gallery. 37
Adney resigned her position at Herron in 1981 to take a position at the University of Colorado, but not before greatly advancing the Herron Gallery's reputation as a center of contemporary art and establishing a strong group of supporters to ensure the future success of Herron's gallery.
1 Harriet G. Warkel, Martin F. Krause, and S. L. Berry, The Herron Chronicle (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 6; Judith Vale Newton and Carol Ann Weiss, Skirting the Issue: Stories of Indiana's Historical Women Artists (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2004), 175-9.
2 Warkel, et. al., 6-9.
3 Ibid, 9-12.
4 Ibid, 13-14.
5 Ibid, 14, 17, 53.
6 Newton and Weiss, 6-8.
7 Warkel, et. al., 18-22, 65.
8 Ibid, 147-9.
9 For full bibliographical information, see Ray E. Boomhower, But I Do Clamor: May Wright Sewall, A Life, 1844-1920 (Zionsville: Guild Press of Indiana, 2001).
10 Mary Q. Burnet, Art and Artists of Indiana (New York: Century, 1921), 218.
11 Warkel, et. al., 5-6.
12 Boomhower, 71-2.
13 "Miss Edna Shover Headed Art School," Indianapolis News, 15 July 1965, p12 c1; Newton and Weiss, 324.
14 Warkel, et. al., 38, 42-3, 47.
15 Ibid, 53, 62.
16 "Miss Edna Shover Headed Art School."
17 Warkel, et. al., 86; "Miss Edna Shover Headed Art School."
18 Colleen McDannell, The Christian Home in Victorian America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), 7-9.
19 Newton and Weiss, 4-5, 245-7.
20 Ibid, 244-8.
21 Ibid, 248.
22 Warkel, et. al., 63; "Music and Art Were Her Language", Indianapolis News 23 March 1975, p8 c3; Annual Reports 1930-7, 1961, in Herron School of Art and Design Records, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
23 Warkel, et. al., 63; "Music and Art Were Her Language."
24 Warkel, et. al., 63-5; 72, 82-6, 127, 183.
25 Ibid, 112, 115.
26 Ibid, 133-5; "Fesler Will Gives Herron $500,000," Indianapolis News, 11 June 1961, p4 c8.
27 Faculty Clipping Files, Phyllis Danielson in Herron School of Art and Design Records.
28 Ibid; Status Report October 1971 in Phyllis Danielson Correspondence, 1970-2; Phyllis Danielson Correspondence, 1973-4; Annual Report 1974-5 in Herron School of Art and Design Records.
29 Warkel, et. al., 166, 173-4; Phyllis Danielson Correspondence, 1970-2 in Herron School of Art and Design Records.
30 Warkel, et. al., 179; Faculty Clipping Files, Phyllis Danielson; Frances Rhome to Phyllis Danielson, 23 April 1973 in Phyllis Danielson Correspondence 1973-4; Annual Report 1974-5 in Herron School of Art and Design Records.
31 "Phyllis Danielson Named to Head Michigan College," Green Sheet 6 no. 20 (23 May 1976): 2; "Sculptor Named for IUPUI Project," Green Sheet 9 no. 17 (29 April 1979): 1.
32 "Gallery Directorship 'Good Opportunity,'" Indianapolis Star 9 August 1981.
33 Faculty Clipping File, Carol Adney, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives.
34 Warkel, et. al., 186-7; Herron Gallery 1980-3 and Herron Gallery Advisory Board 1978-80 in Herron School of Art and Design Records.
36 Faculty Clipping File, Carol Adney; "Gallery Directorship 'Good Opportunity.'"
37 Warkel, et. al, 188; "Gallery Directorship 'Good Opportunity.'"