A year ago, the new James J. Fritts, DDS Clinical Care Center at the Indiana University School of Dentistry was looking for some art for a large common space. John Hoffman, assistant dean of development for the dental school, saw Nava’s work coming down after being on display for months in University Library and inquired about the sculpture, which consists of 11 5-foot-by-5-foot aluminum-sheet maple leaves curled and hung from the ceiling. The piece has been in the Fritts Clinical Center since September.
“Before John Hoffman reached out, I was taking a break from school and planning on not returning,” Nava revealed. “I didn’t think my work was strong enough, and I didn’t think people appreciated it. He got me to come back to school and finish my career here.”
“Changing of Seasons” now dangles from the ceiling of the Dr. Lloyd and Jan Hagedorn Main Street common space, the first-floor area that connects the Fritts Clinical Center to the older dentistry building.
Hoffman said most of the artwork in the Fritts Clinical Center was curated and donated by alumnus Dr. R. Stephen Lehman, a Carmel prosthodontist, photographer and respected art collector. Photographs from Lehman’s collection were installed throughout the Fritts Clinical Center. But the Main Street area that has become the spot for receptions, reunions and other School of Dentistry events needed one more piece.
“We wanted art in here, but we didn’t want to clutter the walls. We wanted to keep it open,” Hoffman said. “We wanted to do something in here to warm it up and make it inviting. Frankly, I’ve noticed more students congregating in here since these went up.
“I’d like to drive traffic through here for purposes other than dentistry, just to highlight the building.”
One marvelous maple leaf
Trying to fulfill a sculpture class assignment, Nava only had to look to the sidewalk of his southside Indianapolis neighborhood to find inspiration. A holder of an associate degree in photography, he discovered the “perfect” maple leaf, took a picture and worked on a design using Photoshop while balancing a full-time job and class load.
For the first leaf, Nava projected his digital design to an aluminum sheet. He cut out the shape with a handsaw before creating texture on the metal with sandpaper. He curved parts of the leaf and its stem to mimic the curling of a crunchy autumn leaf.
Lastly, he designed how the leaves would “fall” by hanging them at different angles. The collection of leaves looks different from every angle, and it successfully evokes the calmness of falling leaves.
“I’m trying to bring nature inside the building,” Nava explained. “Everyone can relate to nature in a way.”
Fantastic in Fritts
Hoffman said he had no idea about Nava’s wavering university experience. He simply happened to be passing through University Library last December when “Changing of Seasons” was being taken down.
“When I saw them, I said, ‘I have the perfect place for those,’ ” Hoffman recalled. “I knew the silver scheme would match the tones in here. It’s a great enhancement for the area and the building.”
With the Fritts Clinical Center opening in early 2018, Hoffman quickly saw the need for some three-dimensional art in IUPUI’s newest building. The sculpture looks at home, whether viewed from underneath, from above through a second-floor window or from outside in the building’s courtyard.
The honorarium from the “Changing of Seasons” purchase has gone to Nava’s remaining tuition, and the sculpture will hang in the Fritts Center for many seasons to come.
“I fall in love every time I walk in here,” Nava said with a smile.
The display effectively reinforces the toll and sheer numbers behind the devastation of the Civil War.
“For certain regiments, out of 1,000 people, only 150 came back,” said Jane E. Schultz, a professor of English at IUPUI with expertise in 19th-century American literature, culture and medicine.
An on-set consultant for the PBS series “Mercy Street,” Schultz will give a talk, “Surgical Silences: Civil War Surgeons and Narrative Space,” at noon Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the Lilly Medical Library.
Complementing the “Life and Limb” exhibit, Schultz’s talk will focus on surgical interactions. According to the National Library of Medicine, the number of wounded was about the same as the number of casualties throughout the war — about 500,000.
Localized pieces from the library’s archives are displayed on the third floor of the library in conjunction with “Life and Limb.” An authentic surgical kit featuring amputation knives and handsaws in a small carrying case sits next to the Jan. 9, 1906, issue of the Indiana Medical Journal, which features early Indianapolis physician Dr. William H. Wishard’s account of his Civil War experience.
“What I’m looking at are the ways surgeons wrote about their experiences with patients,” Schultz said. “They change from a clinical register if they’re talking to their colleagues to a far more personal narrative if they’re keeping written documents for their wives to read later. This material is recorded in letters and diaries at the National Library of Medicine, the National Archives and the Library of Congress.”
While movies and television shows have successfully captured the brutality of the war and the bravery of the soldiers and surgeons, the medical lens is sometimes blurred. Sue London, Lilly Medical Library’s research librarian, cringes for more than one reason at movie scenes in which a Union or Confederate soldier is about to get a limb amputated without real anesthetic, usually held down by a fellow soldier for dramatic effect.
“Not the case,” she countered. “Ninety-five percent of the time, they used chloroform or ether. They were dosed lightly, as the operations were brief. The light anesthesia, not pain, caused the patients to move about while insensible.”
Photography and artists’ renderings of such scenes were often staged, Schultz added. Research has shown that war operations were private matters, giving the patients dignity and allowing the surgeons to concentrate on their harrowing work.
The panels from the National Library of Medicine display rare photos from the front as well as portraits of survivors, who are usually missing a limb or two. The exhibit shows surgical methods and the advancements in prosthetics and products created for the hundreds of thousands of men who were wounded. One example: A combined fork-and-knife eating utensil was made for those missing an arm.
According to the exhibit, veterans were given $50 toward a prosthetic arm and $75 for a leg from the federal government.
The years following the Civil War saw the establishment of the nursing profession. Schultz, who taught a Civil War literature class last spring, has studied women’s roles in the war, namely assisting surgeons and caring for the wounded post-surgery. Gangrene and other diseases were responsible for many more deaths than were bullets and cannon fire, she said.
“As people understood the enormity of the problem, more and more women were needed,” Schultz explained. “They would take care of the soldiers at the bedside, feed the soldiers and bring medicine. Occasionally they would help on some kind of operation.”
Many soldiers suffered after the war, but some wounded veterans were able to live full lives after surgery with the help of prosthetics. Their bravery helped them earn jobs, and some even held elected office.
The survivors also spurred the government to establish welfare and war veteran financial assistance. Because the pensioning system was not standardized until after the war, most disabled veterans had to wait for the assistance that could have helped them sooner.
Scholars like Schultz are still researching one of America’s most brutal eras. The estimated 60,000 surgeries that occurred during the Civil War are still bringing interest and visceral reactions 150 years later.
“Studying this aspect of the war really helps us see advancements in medical technologies in the era,” Schultz said. “People might have occasionally seen what amputation saws looked like, but the pictures of the amputees, the crutches, the human factor of this, I think, effectively conveys the traumatic impact of the costs of war.”
For this month’s alumni spotlight, we check in with David Bowen (B.F.A. Sculpture ’99), an associate professor of sculpture and physical computing at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Bowen’s creations engage elements of the natural world with autonomous machines through robotics, open source data, and custom software.
In the nearly two-plus decades since graduating, he has tracked government-owned buoys to visualize the surface of distant oceans; detected the flight patterns of houseflies to operate blimps and compose tweets; and measured the growth of plants for responsive circadian drawings. Today, he’s preparing an installation for the Minnesota Museum of American Art that captures real-time wave videos from locations all over the world.
Here, Bowen talks about the evolution of his creative practice, teaching young artists to incorporate technology in their work, and staying busy in the studio.
HERRON: What kinds of work did you make as a Herron student?
DAVID BOWEN: At that time, I was doing a lot of steel fabrication – welding, grinding, and assembling steel sculptures. Towards the later part of my career at Herron I became interested in kinetic sculpture – making things that have moving parts in simple analog ways with switches that would turn things on or cranks that were interactive. It was really simple kinetic sculpture. I also got a job at a bike shop and that influenced what I was doing with the mechanisms by integrating a lot of repurposed bike parts.
HERRON: What themes or concepts were you exploring in your work?
BOWEN: I think a consistent thing I looked at then and even now is combining natural and mechanical elements within my work, at least as a starting off point. As I got into later work and using robotics, I started to realize that maybe that contrast was not so clear.
I’ve always been fascinated by nature. In fact, as a young person growing up in Indianapolis, my grandparents had a pet shop in Irvington and I spent a lot of time there. Being with the animals and the elaborate systems my grandfather would create to keep tropical fish alive was always very fascinating to me. So, this combination of a mechanism designed to maintain a living thing is where a lot of that interest came from.
HERRON: Conversely, how has your work evolved into the realm of data-driven sculptures?
BOWEN: I attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for my M.F.A. and chose that program to work with a particular kinetic sculptor. His name was Guy Baldwin. He was a great resource for analog kinetics, such as on and off switches and motors.
As a graduate student at this big research university, part of my thesis requirement was to seek out faculty outside of the art department. I was fortunate enough to find a mechanical engineering professor who was interested in working with me and introduced me to programmable microcontrollers, which are basically little computers that you can plug into your laptop or desktop computer and program to input data from various sensors, or output data like movement or light.
That really opened up the possibilities with the kinetic systems I made and gave me the ability to integrate more complexity into the way that these systems would respond to natural inputs. So, at that time I became a coder. I’m not classically trained but I’ve been using coding in my work ever since.
HERRON: In 2009, you had a show in the Herron galleries titled “if/then.” Tell us about that work and how you incorporated housefly movements to activate the installation.
BOWEN: The title was taken from computer language called BASIC, using if-then statements. If the fly does this, then the mechanism does that.
For the installation at Herron, I had a piece titled “swarm.” That piece was commissioned in 2008 by a gallery that’s no longer around called Exit Art in New York. They had an open call and were looking for works about the brain. I sold those curators on the idea of 500 living houseflies inside a 10-inch-diameter acrylic sphere as the brain of an autonomous robot.
So, inside of this sphere were flies and food and water to keep them happy and healthy, as well as some sensors that would detect their movements. Data from the sensors was then mapped or scaled to output, basically drive motors, so if a fly was landing on a sensor or flying past a sensor, that data would then be mapped to a motor. Essentially, the flies were driving the rover around the gallery space.
There was a black-taped ring on the floor and the device had some sensors that would look down and detect the ring and keep it within that space. But occasionally it would bounce off of the ring, kind of like a fly bouncing off the inside of the sphere or on a window.
BOWEN: With a lot of my recent work, I’m getting data from what’s happening from distant locations and collecting movement from the surface of the water. You can do that relatively simply with an accelerometer – a thing that measures movement of X, Y, Z. – and map that data to various outputs.
I wanted to get some water movement data, so I needed to make a sealed, waterproof container that has batteries, an accelerometer, a remote controller, and maybe cellular output so that it could pipe that data to the piece. It was working through this technical conundrum of making this thing work and making it last, when a friend of mine – a technician at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) where I’m now teaching – mentioned NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they’ve already done that.
They’ve made bouys that collect all kinds of data and they’ve done a way better job than I could ever do. I checked out NOAA and it turns out that these data are free for anybody to use. At that point, it was just a matter of writing some custom software that would pull data from a particular buoy. It was the simplest solution rather than trying to make my own thing.
HERRON: There are a lot of free data sets out there that you can be incorporated into artwork.
BOWEN: Absolutely. That was back in 2011 and it’s really blown up with the Internet of Things and connectivity. There are even weather apps from which you can grab data on your smartphone. I’m working on a project right now where I can plug in some GPS coordinates and get a satellite photo from the other side of the world of the clouds and the ocean. It’s right there at your fingertips.
HERRON: What challenges have arisen with using data to inform your work and how have you adapted your workflow?
BOWEN: Things seem to be ever-changing and there are technical challenges. For example, maybe one of the buoys is down, so you have to have a plan-B in place or switch over to a different buoy.
I had another installation called “tele-present wind” that was in two spaces at the same time. In this case, I made a sensor that goes outside and collects wind data. As a plant’s stalk was blown around by the wind, data from the accelerometer was sent in real-time to the gallery. Every once in a while, there would be a power outage, a storm, or the sensor was down. To a certain extent, the show must go on, so you’ve got to have some backup data in place.
So, if for some reason the data source gets cut, it reverts to recorded data. I have a huge data sets where I recorded that sensor for months so it could just play that back. I’d rather not resort to that, but having something happen in the gallery space like it’s supposed to is good.
HERRON: What percentage of your studio time is spent programming versus creating the sculptures?
BOWEN: I’d say a third of the time in my studio is making, so even with digital fabrication you’re still having to do the making. It’s still relevant. A third of the time is coding, typing the code to make the piece do what you want to do. Then, the other third of the time is what I call debugging or testing.
I’ve got a commission I’m working on for the Minnesota Museum of American Art that I’m running right now. It’s a two-part piece and I’m running half of it constantly in my studio just to see what’s going to break and then fix it to get ahead of any issues. Luckily, it seems to be working pretty well. But there’s nothing worse than going to an exhibition of kinetic, interactive, or data-driven work that’s supposed to do something and it’s not doing anything because it’s broken. I try to avoid that as much as I can. I’m not an engineer, though. I have a little bit of engineering training from graduate school, but a DIY spirit comes through in my work.
HERRON: Are there any happy accidents with your work?
BOWEN: I think it’s impossible to make things perfect, especially when you’re pulling from outside data sources. You really never know what’s going to happen. I have this piece, “fly revolver,” that’s in the Beijing Media Art Biennale right now. It’s a gun that’s aimed and fired by flies. The flies are in control.
It’s probably the most political thing I’ve ever done. I did it pretty soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The first time it was exhibited was in Chicago, and Illinois was the last state in the U.S. to pass the concealed-carry law, where you can carry a gun wherever you want. I was invited to participate in an exhibition related to that law passing. Of course, for the exhibition it had to be a very convincing replica revolver. The flies fired that thing so many times that the gun broke, which I thought was pretty great.
HERRON: You’ve exhibited widely – nationally and internationally – in exhibitions related to the intersection of art, science, and technology. From an artist’s perspective, how do you perceive the connection between these seemingly disparate fields?
BOWEN: I don’t see art and science as super disparate, especially in terms of the work that I do. I like to read books by Oliver Sachs, Steven Johnson, Howard Ringold, and Brian Green that are inspirational – thinking about the bigger picture, the universe, how we interact with the world and artificial intelligence, and how it’s changing us as a species. I’m fascinated by science. But I’m not trying to solve any scientific problems or anything like that. As an artist, I tend to ask questions rather than answer them.
HERRON: What key lessons did you learn at Herron?
BOWEN: The biggest thing I picked up at Herron is a strong work ethic and dedication to studio practice. You’ve got to put the time in. That was something that was very much instilled in me early on. We were also encouraged to take courses outside of our field. I took a physics course, “Physics for Educators,” and I didn’t see it so much at the time but I think it influenced my studio practice down the way.
I was also hired by my professor, Eric Nordgulen. He was my mentor at Herron and really gave me a lot. That was an amazing opportunity and I was very fortunate to have that experience because it showed me the nuts and bolts of installing a piece, pouring concrete footing, packaging artwork for shipping, and basically, everything about running a studio. That was incredible and something you don’t necessarily get in the classroom.
HERRON: As an educator, how do you approach teaching students in today’s rapidly changing creative and technical environments?
BOWEN: I’m implementing a course, “Robotics and Physical Computing,” here at UMD. It’s like a “Sculpture II” class where students start to integrate programmable microcontrollers. It gives them the ability to start bringing in data sources and trying to make more complex time-based systems.
The beauty with all of this microcontroller stuff that I do is that I tend to stick with open-source software. I use Processing, which has an amazing community of people who are doing similar things. I use Python occasionally, and the microcontrollers I’m using are Arduinos. There are other things that people use like Max/MSP, which are great but they cost $600. I think it’s better for students to use open-source software because it’s free. I use it myself for a lot of my studio practice.
Last year, I did an artist residency in San Francisco with Autodesk. They have an amazing makerspace on a pier right off of the Embarcadero, giving artists access to this incredible equipment and incredibly smart people. After I got back from Autodesk, I felt confident enough in my abilities to teach digital fabrication in my curriculum at UMD. We got a CMT machine last year and I started to integrate that, too.
HERRON: What do you have coming up this fall?
BOWEN: As I mentioned, I have a new piece debuting at the Minnesota Museum of American Art titled “wave line,” comprising low-resolution LED screens and video pulled from the website Surfline. It’s for surfers wondering what’s happening in Hawaii or how the waves are in Ocean Beach.
There are really great compositions and beautiful views of the waves, so I wrote custom software that’s scraping the video and outputting it to LED panels. It’s a low-res view of waves from very distant locations placed in front of the museum’s window gallery.
HERRON: What advice do you repeatedly tell your students that may also benefit Herron students?
BOWEN: At Herron, we were always encouraged to submit materials to open calls for exhibitions and keep the work out there. If there’s a lull in what you’re doing, [apply to] those open calls. Most of the time, this results in a rejection letter. That’s just part of it. So, get a thick skin for rejection because it’s going to happen.
Lastly, working hard in your studio doesn’t necessarily guarantee you anything. But not working hard guarantees that not much is going to happen. I think that’s a good, realistic way to look at your studio practice.
At 862 acres, this Indianapolis park is bigger than New York City’s Central Park. It’s also home to three golf courses, the Thomas Taggart Memorial, and the nation’s longest soapbox derby track. But in recent years, it became evident – despite Riverside’s numerous amenities – that something was missing: an updated master plan.
The park’s history stretches back to 1898, when Indianapolis Mayor Thomas Taggart arranged for the purchase of some land along the White River. At the time, the neighborhood was considered a “streetcar suburb,” and city limits didn’t extend beyond 38th Street. All the same, the acreage was soon filled with structures typical of the City Beautiful movement.
Known for its monumental grandeur, the City Beautiful philosophy promoted the idea that beautification created moral and civic virtue among urban populations. In other words, aesthetically pleasing places increase one’s quality of life. In Chicago, there was the Columbian Exposition. In Washington, D.C., there was the National Mall. And in Indianapolis? Riverside Park. A place where visitors could attend concerts, play golf, go canoeing, or have a picnic.
Riverside’s growth accelerated, however, once George Kessler stepped into the scene. Kessler – a German-born city planner and landscape architect – incorporated Riverside into his Park and Boulevard Plan. Completed in 1913, Kessler’s master plan for Riverside included large meadows, shade lawns, picturesque wooden benches, tree-lined roads along the park’s perimeter, and lagoons to help accommodate flood waters.
But they weren’t enough, unfortunately. Following the Great Flood of 1913, the City of Indianapolis built levees along White River. While they created protection from future flooding, the levees also had one major downfall.
“They cut people off visually and physically from the river,” says Keri VanVlymen, graduate landscape architect at RATIO Architects. “We kind of turned our backs on the river and didn’t allow the flood plains to do what they are supposed to do.”
The levees affected the cohesiveness of Riverside, and over time, the park’s amenities – from the golf courses to the Cycloplex – took on their own identities. By 2016, Indy Parks and Recreation knew they needed a team to design not only a park, but a public engagement process…
INDIANAPOLIS — Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI is presenting the 2018 Christel DeHaan Family Foundation Visiting Artist Lecture with Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley on Nov. 28, followed by an opening reception for the annual Undergraduate Student Exhibition and a holiday art sale supporting Herron student artists and designers.
MacArthur Award “genius” grant recipient Mary Reid Kelley combines painting, performance and her distinctive wordplay in graphically stylized films made in collaboration with her partner, Patrick Kelley. During the talk, the collaborative duo will discuss the visual language of “The Minotaur Trilogy” (2013–15), a series of short narrative films exploring the Greek Minotaur myth and, through it, the present-day roles of women, sexuality, language and art historical tropes.
Opening in conjunction with the Kelleys’ talk is the Undergraduate Student Exhibition, an annual tradition featuring exceptional works produced by Herron students across a variety of artistic disciplines. This year’s guest juror is Betsy Stirratt, director of the Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University Bloomington, who will award prizes to the top entries. Additionally, the ceramics, furniture design and printmaking clubs will sell student-made artwork and wares, and students in studio art and technology will present live puppet performances featuring laser-engraved sets and characters fabricated in the school’s Think It Make It Lab.
The talk and opening reception will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 28 at Eskenazi Hall, 735 W. New York St.
The opening reception is made possible by Prizm: The Artist’s Supply Store, with in-kind support provided by Sun King Brewing. Parking will be free in the Sports Complex Garage adjacent to Eskenazi Hall or on levels 5 and 6 of the Riverwalk Garage, courtesy of The Great Frame Up Indianapolis, with validation from the Herron galleries. Visit HerronGalleries.org for more information.
Located in Eskenazi Hall on the IUPUI campus, the Galleries at Herron are free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays.
Also on view in the Galleries at Herron through Dec. 12:
In the Marsh Gallery: Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley’s corresponding exhibition, “The Minotaur Trilogy,” comprising three films — “Priapus Agonistes” (2014), “Swinburne’s Pasiphae” (2014), and “The Thong of Dionysus” (2015) — that use punning wordplay, handmade costumes and sets, and bawdy humor to riff on classical mythology and pop culture.
In the Basile Gallery: “Stuff(ed),” an exhibition featuring the work of five contemporary artists who explore the playful, subversive power of sculpted fabric to transform and reimagine mass-market commodities and bric-a-brac from everyday life. Participating artists are Jessica Dance, Gil Yefman, Andrea Pritschow, David Gabbard and Natalie Baxter.
About Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley
Mary Reid Kelley earned a B.A. from St. Olaf College and an MFA from Yale University. She is the recipient of a 2016 MacArthur fellowship and has received awards from the American Academy in Rome, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and the College Art Association. Major exhibitions include Salt Lake Art Center, Utah; SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts; and ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Patrick Kelley earned a BFA from St. Olaf College and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has taught photography, video and new media courses at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Skidmore College in New York. His works have shown at the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information-Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany; and the Minnesota Museum of American Art.
About the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation Visiting Artist Lecture
The Christel DeHaan Family Foundation Visiting Artist Lecture brings prominent contemporary artists to Herron to present their work and ideas.
About Betsy Stirratt
Betsy Stirratt is the founding director of the Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University Bloomington. As director, Stirratt has curated exhibitions for over 30 years, including the exhibits “Personal: Selections from the Robert J. Shiffler Collection,” “Human Nature” and “The Miniature.”
About the Herron School of Art and Design
Founded in 1902, Herron School of Art and Design is the premier accredited professional school of art and design in the state of Indiana and is part of the thriving urban campus of IUPUI. Herron has more than 50 full-time faculty serving 11 undergraduate and three graduate programs and a curriculum that prepares graduates to be leaders in a world that requires a unique combination of creativity, conceptual skills and technical abilities. Herron is an engaged community and regional partner including five public galleries; community learning programs; and the Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life.
In addition to being a world-renowned poet and essayist, Luis Alberto Ambroggio has been a lifelong collector of Spanish literature and history books, many from well before his time.
It’s a priceless collection. And it now resides at IUPUI.
The Luis Alberto Ambroggio Center for Latino Studies, part of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, formally opened Nov. 1 in a ceremony at the center, housed in Room 323 of Cavanaugh Hall. Among the distinguished guests were Ambroggio; Garry Holland, education chair for the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP; Elia James from the Lawrence city government; IUPUI Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson; and representatives from the Indianapolis mayor’s office, the Lawrence mayor’s office and the office of Rep. André Carson.
“The center is not only for Latino studies; it’s open to anybody, in any major. Students can use the library to continue research,” said Jose Vargas-Vila, director of IUPUI’s Latino Studies program. “In the future, we’ll use it to invite scholars and writers to IUPUI.”
Nearly 2,000 volumes are in the center, covering classic Spanish literature, linguistics, American history and more. The center is in partnership with the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, of which associate professor Rosa Tezanos-Pinto is a full member and editor of the academy’s bulletin.
“Latino studies is a flourishing area of study in the School of Liberal Arts, and the Luis Alberto Ambroggio Center will do a wonderful job of serving students for years to come,” School of Liberal Arts interim dean Robert Rebein said. “To have such a wonderful collection within our walls is a remarkable testament to our school’s programs.”
The connection between Ambroggio and IUPUI was forged by Tezanos-Pinto through annual conferences around the world. Tezanos-Pinto told Ambroggio about the growing Latino Studies program at IUPUI, and an interest and a bond were formed.
“She made the impression, and Ambroggio chose this university — from among several others — to pass on his collection to a place that would be a permanent location,” Vargas-Vila said. “He wanted to donate the books that belonged to him and his parents.”
Some 700 students take classes in Latino studies each year from two full-time and four part-time faculty. Students have had internships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with the city of Lawrence and inside the Indiana Statehouse.
Most journalists are far more accustomed to reporting the news than being a newsmaker.
Vernon A. Williams, an IUPUI communications and community engagement strategist as well as a veteran print and broadcast journalist, was placed in that unusual position when put under the studio lights as part of the current exhibition “SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male,” which shows through Oct. 31 at the Indianapolis Central Library.
Williams’ likeness is among 30 color portraits by Charlotte, North Carolina, photographer Jerry Taliaferro. Williams and Michael R. Twyman represent IUPUI in stoic imagery. IUPUI alumni Gary Gee of the Herron School of Art and Design; Lacy Johnson of the McKinney School of Law; and Vop Osili, who is on the IUPUI Board of Advisors, are featured in the show, too.
“Reflecting on my years of covering the news, you grow accustomed to journalism being a thankless profession,” said Williams with a laugh during a recent visit to “SONS.” “You’re not used to people taking the time to say anything unless they are upset or take issue with a story. So the ‘SONS’ recognition is a rare and humbling acknowledgment.”
The show is part of a series Taliaferro is conducting around the country. Previous “SONS” exhibits showcased African-American men of multiple generations in Baltimore; New York; and Jackson, Mississippi. All of the shows, including the one in Indianapolis, featured 30 men who were nominated by fellow community members. The Indianapolis Central Library edition saw 60 total nominations.
The color portraits reside in a gallery space, while some black-and-white shots are in the library’s lobby. Video interviews were posted on the subjects as part of the show. Twyman, an adjunct faculty member in the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, was delighted to find his name under a promotional sign reading “I am a philanthropist.”
The teaching side of Twyman’s philanthropic career is something he cherishes.
“I learn so much more from my students than what I could ever impart to them,” Twyman said. “We’re always teaching each other. I enjoy having the classroom as a laboratory for just the generation of ideas and solutions around how we can be more responsive to community needs.”
While teaching his current courses — Race, Social Justice and Philanthropy as well as Diversity and Culturally Responsive Philanthropy — Twyman has cultivated an impressive career in Indianapolis. He is the owner of InExcelsis, a private consulting firm that works with companies to maximize performance, and is the founding Indiana director for the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, where he managed a multimillion-dollar grant portfolio. Twyman was honored for his work with the trust in the form of the Dr. Michael R. Twyman Endowment Fund with the Indianapolis Marion County Library Foundation.
“It’s full-circle,” said Twyman regarding the familiar venue that is hosting “SONS.” “A lot of the work I support here is trying to provide access to underrepresented communities in Indianapolis so they can take advantage of the wonderful programs and services that are here at the central library and all of the neighborhood branches.”
As the first black reporter for the Gary Post-Tribune, Williams broke barriers and news. His decade at the daily — along with years in radio broadcasting — built a foundation for a career that flourished at IUPUI.
Williams found his niche in the Office of Community Engagement.
“It was a natural progression in my career since I have been seriously involved in community service since high school,” Williams said.
Williams’ decades of volunteerism were fueled by his wealth of contacts, ideas and faith. Helping people through mentoring, scholarships, communications expertise or just meeting people at their needs is his primary passion.
“To whom much is given, much is expected. I believe my life and career have been blessed so I can be in a position to bless others,” Williams explained. “You work without expectation or anything reciprocal — just fulfill a need. You don’t wait for cameras or spotlights or stages or plaques. You just do it.”
In the Office of Community Engagement, Williams’ desk has been busy during the 50th Anniversary year. An author of four books, he is putting the finishing touches on the script for a play to debut in January. The production is based on the 2010 Paul R. Mullins and Glenn S. White tome, “The Price of Progress,” looking at the history of the cultural scene of Indiana Avenue before, during and after IUPUI’s construction.
While his career was always meant to showcase others, Williams is proud to be a part of “SONS” and to be counted among outstanding Indianapolis men.
“To be on the side of ‘Hey, we like your body of work. We think you’ve made a difference.’ It’s a very humbling experience,” Williams said. “I view whatever I do as a manifestation of my godly assignment — an effort to be ‘kingdom-minded’ in my approach to life.”
INDIANAPOLIS — IUPUI biologists are growing ‘mini retinas’ in the lab from stem cells to mimic the growth of the human retina. The researchers hope to use the research to restore sight when critical connections between the eye and the brain are damaged. These models also allow the researchers to better understand how cells in the retina develop and are organized. These results are published online in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.
The lab-created mini retinas, called retinal organoids, are collections of cells that grow in a manner similar to how the retina develops in the body. The retinal organoids are created in an IUPUI biology department research lab using human pluripotent stem cells, or hPSCs, which can be derived from adult skin cells.
Jason Meyer, an associate professor of biology in the School of Science at IUPUI, is using the retinal organoids to better understand retinal ganglion cells, or RGCs, which provide the connection between the eye and the brain. These cells project long axons to transmit visual information. When that connection is disturbed, a person loses sight.
“In the past couple of years, retinal organoids have become a focus in the research community,” Meyer said. “However, there hasn’t really been any emphasis on those retinal ganglion cells within these mini retinas, the retinal organoids, so this study is not only looking at how the retinal organoids develop and organize but also exploring the long axons they need in order to connect with the brain.”
RGCs are the cells primarily damaged by glaucoma, a disease that affects about 70 million people worldwide and is the second leading cause of blindness.
“There’s a lot we have to understand about these cells outside of the body before we can put them into humans for transplants and treating those diseases,” said Clarisse Fligor, a biology graduate researcher and first author on the paper. “This research is looking at ways that we can encourage growth of these cells for possible cell-replacement therapies to treat these different injuries or diseases.”
Fligor looked through different growth factors involved in RGC development and found that a protein called Netrin-1 significantly increased the outgrowth of axons from these cells.
“This protein is not expressed long term; it is most prominently during early human development,” Meyer said. “Once the retina is established, it’s not as available, which is why retinal ganglion cells usually can’t fix themselves. Strategies so far to replace retinal ganglion cells by transplanting new cells have not been able to restore those connections because the body itself doesn’t produce these signals.”
The researchers hope this study is an important step toward using lab-grown cells for cell-replacement purposes.
“If we want to be able to use these cells for therapies and encourage the proper wiring of these cells within the rest of the nervous system, perhaps we need to take a page out of the playbook of human development and try to re-create some of those features ordinarily found during early human development,” Meyer said.
In addition to Fligor and Meyer, IUPUI and Indiana University authors on the study are Kirstin B. Langer, Akshayalakshmi Sridhar, Priya K. Shields, Michael C. Edler, Sarah K. Ohlemacher and Chi Zhang. Other authors are Daniel M. Suter and Yuan Ren of Purdue University and Valentin M. Sluch and Donald J. Zack of Johns Hopkins University.
The study was supported in part by the National Eye Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the Indiana Department of Health Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Fund.
About the School of Science at IUPUI
The School of Science at IUPUI is committed to excellence in teaching, research and service in the biological, physical, computational, behavioral and mathematical sciences. The school is dedicated to being a leading resource for interdisciplinary research and science education in support of Indiana’s effort to expand and diversify its economy.
During the Fall 2018 semester, graduate students in Herron’s MFA program in Visual Arts have worked in collaboration with students in Music Technology to plan “HEARING THINGS” – a project that explores the use of elements of sound and movement in visual art and music. The project unpacks its title in a multitude of forms and formats, Hearing Things implies the use of sounds from the uncanny (he was “hearing things”), to the mundane (e.g., rumors), to music and musical instruments (hearing “things”). The project references contemporary issues, such as how the natural environment as well as the social media environment in which we live are impacted by rising and changing levels of sounds. Last but not least, the project explores how the domains of contemporary visual art and music now overlap in the experimental use of new technologies and in the creation of unique sonic and visual spaces.
HEARING THINGS is an interdisciplinary collaboration involving 6 graduate students from Herron School of Art + Design and 6 graduate/undergraduate students from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Music Technology. The project culminates in two innovative public events:
Thursday, November 15, 6 – 8 pm, Eskenazi Fine Arts Center, ECHO GALLERY
There will be a public presentation for the exhibition HEARING THINGS, featuring sonic and kinetic collaborative artworks, plus live music/sonic performances, & (light) refreshments.
Friday, November 30, 7:30 pm, Auditorium (room 152) in IUPUI Informatics and Technology Building
There will be a live multi-media performance, HEARING THINGS, featuring students and faculty from the Department of Music Technology, led by Professor Scott Deal, along with visual effects and video created as a collaboration of students from Herron and Music Technology.
Arun Berty, Music Technology
Harry Chaubey, Music Technology Kennedy Conner, Fine Arts, Herron
Chris Higgins, Music Technology
Frank Mullen, Fine Arts, Herron
Hailey Potts, Fine Arts, Herron
Adam Rathbun, Fine Arts, Herron
Will Simms, Music Technology
Krishna Sridharan, Music Technology
Sarah Strong, Fine Arts, Herron
Denise Troyer, Fine Arts, Herron
Xiaochang (Kerry) Wang, Music Technology
Scott Deal, Prof. of Music Technology
Ben Martinkus, teaching faculty and technician, Photo and Intermedia Craig McDaniel, Prof. of Fine Art
Hope to see you there!
Correction: the poster should read department of music and arts technology, not school of music and arts technology
With so many reiterations and takes on the book, Jason M. Kelly, an associate professor of British history and director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, and his spring 2018 “Machines and the Age of Invention” class took a deep read of the book, poring over the many locations visited — or even just mentioned in passing — by Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the numerous other characters. From this, Kelly and his students constructed A Frankenstein Atlas, a living research project that maps 331 locations that reside in the book or were visited by Shelley during the writing process.
“It’s a slowly growing site to learn about ‘Frankenstein’ and explore the many facets of the book,” Kelly said. “In class, it allowed us to think about what kinds of historical sources and methods we use in the context of literary analysis.”
Kelly and his students are still publishing new data to A Frankenstein Atlas. Fueled by Github, other researchers and classes will be able to add new “branches” to the work, allowing the atlas — and the legacy of “Frankenstein” — to grow for another 200 years.
Question: How was the data created to fill and launch A Frankenstein Atlas?
Jason Kelly: The first thing we needed to do was read “Frankenstein.” So we did a group read of the book pretty quickly. Our first pass set the groundwork for our semester-long discussion of the historical context of “Frankenstein.” Each student was assigned two or three chapters, and their job was to code them. I created an online interface and helped them map their data.
Q: What struck you most about the novel while conducting the research?
JK: It’s an epistolary novel, a novel of letters, and it’s a travel journal at the same time. Mary and Percy Shelley, Claire (Clairmont, Mary Shelley’s stepsister) were touring through in 1816. They had been keeping travel journals. You can actually read sections of “Frankenstein” and go back to the travel journals to flesh out the spaces and places they’re talking about.
Because there is a strong geographical element to “Frankenstein,” and we used location as our jumping-off point, which gave us the opportunity to pursue historical geographic information systems approaches. The model that helped shape the project was “Mapping the Lakes,” a project that examined the Lake poets. We borrowed the format and developed it into this pedagogical platform. We made it an open source data set so that people can add to and develop it.
Q: As a professor of British history, how did your travel experience influence the project?
JK: I do a lot of research on the Grand Tour, a one or two year trip through Europe that many British elites took during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. And, fortunately, my research takes to locations across the continent. So, Percy and Mary’s visit to the continent—specifically Lake Geneva where she composed “Frankenstein”—was similar to my other work.
Q: What other sources did you use during your analysis?
JK: In one instance, we pulled data on where historical ice sheets, and we read journals from the 18th and 19th-century scientific expeditions. We even studied where whaling ships were likely to travel. These were the types of information that Mary had access to when she described the ice at the beginning and end of the book. We triangulated these data sets, and when we brought it all together, we were able to get a good sense where Mary was situating the action in the novel. It was a great exercise in the ways that science and literature can come together and talk to each other.
Q: What were your students’ reactions to the book?
JK: They loved it. They arrived with an image of Frankenstein mediated by the movies. But when they read the book, like almost anyone I’ve spoken to who has never read the book before, they said, “Oh, this isn’t at all what I thought it was about.” This is talking about all the same issues we’re grappling with today, like religion, ethics, responsibility and what makes us human. It’s such a contemporary novel, and it’s 200 years old.