Herron School of Art and Design Professor Greg Hull’s collaborative proposal for the “Touchstone Project,” which would produce digital works made of light and controlled by input from hospital patients, earned a $100,000 Transformational Impact Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
Hull, whose work has often included the use of projected light, teaches sculpture. He is one of the first two people to earn the new two-year fellowship, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., announced at the Arts Council’s annual Start With Art luncheon on September 4.
Hull’s collaborators include Assistant Professor Juliet King, director of Herron’s graduate Art Therapy Program, and Dr. Robert Pascuzzi, chair of the Department of Neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
The project will provide a way for patients—including those with limited mobility because of neurological conditions such as ALS and Parkinson’s disease—“to interact with and generate engaging imagery that they can experience and change in real time, as well as potentially share with a larger audience,” said Hull.
He and his partners hope to give the patients who participate a sense of identity, autonomy and confidence through the art, as a way to combat the depression and anxiety that often come with such a diagnosis.
The project outcome will be works created in response to data collected from patient sensors and translated through an artist-designed interface. The works can be displayed on monitors or projected at varying scales and experienced privately by the patient or publicly in an installation space.
“This project will open new avenues for partnership across disciplines. It’s an honor to be part of pioneering work that can help people, and perhaps, with further research, become a tool for art therapists everywhere,” said King.
Shannon Linker, vice president of the Arts Council said, “The new Fellowship gives artists the opportunity to be at the center of the project, not brought in as an afterthought. Many artists have an altruistic nature that constantly seeks to better their surroundings. These partnership-based projects allow artists to create something meaningful in keeping with their art practice, but also fulfill their need to positively impact their community.”
Linker said that the Arts Council collected “63 submissions from artists and artist teams working in literary and visual arts, dance, music and theater. Within those submissions there were hundreds of artists and partner groups involved in thinking about amazing ways art can help transform a place or idea.”
Colleagues from arts service organizations in Miami Beach, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati and South Miami Beach formed an e-panel to select the finalists. They did not know the fellowship applicants.
“The e-panel narrowed down the submissions and came up with their own concerns and highlights. Then the grants committee of our board of directors interviewed the lead artist for each finalist project and asked some tough questions—questions that came from the e-panel as well as questions that related to Indianapolis and our community specifically,” Linker said. “The panelists were especially drawn to the proposal Hull put forward because of his team’s potential impact on the world of Art Therapy.”
The Arts Council will be documenting the progress of both fellows (Brian Fonseca of Phoenix Theater is the other award recipient) over the course of the two years and plans to share highlights via video and other means. “The impact may be hard to measure at first,” Linker said. “We understand that this project may just be the beginning of a magnificent idea that will grow over many years.”