Most Americans spend the majority of their waking hours at work, so why not spend those hours in a space that inspires?
IU employees from all campuses can do just that by working with the university’s campus art curators to turn blank walls and empty corridors into beautiful conversation pieces.
Sherry Rouse, curator of campus art, and Katie Chattin, assistant curator of campus art, oversee IU’s Campus Art Collection, which includes all public art on IU campuses not displayed in museums, as well as hundreds of paintings, sculptures, drawings, textiles and more currently hidden away in storage.
Rouse said IU units willing to invest some money in bringing the artwork up to display quality can showcase world-class pieces specifically chosen to meet the needs of their campus spaces.
“Decorating isn’t what we do,” said Rouse, who explained she works hard to match clients with art they not only enjoy, but that is also appropriate for the location. A number of environmental factors, such as sunlight and accessibility, go into each decision, she said. Ultimately, it’s about what’s best for the art.
“I don’t hang artwork over drinking fountains,” Rouse said with a laugh.
Recent clients of Rouse include leaders of IU Communications’ Bloomington team, Rob Zinkan, IU’s associate vice president for marketing, and Tim Keller, director of Creative Services. Zinkan and Keller worked with Rouse to install three hanging sculptures and one painting at the unit’s office in the historic Von Lee building, along Kirkwood Avenue.
Zinkan, who first used IU’s campus art collection years ago at IUPUC, said overall employee feedback on the new office artwork has been very positive.
“We have a great team of creative professionals, so we wanted to have an environment that inspires great creative work,” he said.
Rouse said she was pleased too — especially about finding a home for three Morton C. Bradley sculptures, of which the university has more than 300 in storage.
“It’s obvious that (IU Communications employees) are clearly stimulated by what happened there,” she said.
Though salvage fees vary depending on each work of art, they are typically a fraction of the total value of the piece, Rouse said. For example, one might be able to display an $800 painting after paying only $100 for a new frame and installation by campus carpenters.
Once installation is complete, Rouse and her team are in charge of maintaining the pieces. Only the university’s art curators and campus carpenters are authorized to touch and move the pieces, so future plans for the artwork will always need to be vetted through them.
Those interested in displaying some of IU’s campus art collection in their campus buildings – particularly ones with public spaces – should contact Katie Chattin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-855-5360 to set up a consultation.
by Andrea Zeek