CROSSROADS IUB

Come join Crossroads IUB for a two-day celebration of how the arts and humanities catalyze science in support of environmental sustainability! Crossroads IUB includes an evening performance of “Rising Tide: The Crossroads Project,” at the IU Cinema, a special Crossroads First Thursdays festival at the Fine Arts Plaza, and a day-long Symposium with lectures, a workshop, and a panel discussion.

The two day event kicks off with the First Thursdays Festival (including special Crossroads-themed activities and guests), leading up to the Rising Tide: Crossroads Project performance at the IU Cinema. On Friday, October 5 the Crossroads IUB Symposium will welcome local experts, researchers, and artists to learn best practices for art-science collaboration in environmental sustainability.

image credited to Andrew McAllister

First Thursdays Festival is a free celebration of the Arts & Humanities at IU and is well attended by students, faculty and staff, as well as the Bloomington community. The Rising Tide performance is also free, made possible by the IU Cinema, but tickets are required: click here.

All are welcome to register and attend the Symposium on Friday, October 5, 2018 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. The goal of the Crossroads IUB Symposium is to explore how the arts, humanities and sciences synergize to inform and motivate sustainable changes. Using the Rising Tide: Crossroads Performance project as a successful model, symposium participants will learn best practices for interdisciplinary collaborations.

The Symposium will be in 2 sessions. The morning session will include keynote addresses from Rising Tide’s Dr. Rob Davies and IUPUI’s Dr. Jason M. Kelly, as well as a panel discussion featuring all Rising Tide performers and contributors. The panel will collectively address how the arts and humanities best synergize with sciences to catalyze environmental sustainability by describing the evolution of their work and detailing best practices for art-science collaboration. The afternoon session will allow participations to workshop interdisciplinary, Rising Tide-like projects.

Crossroads IUB is presented by the Integrated Program in the Environment (IPE), Environmental Resilience Institute, Jacobs School of Music, Arts and Humanities Council, and IU Cinema. The event is made possible through a New Frontiers Grant from the IU Office of the Vice President for Research.

The Integrated Program in the Environment (IPE) is the forefront of innovation in environmental studies at IU Bloomington, as outlined in the New Academic Directions report. IPE is the first place to discover what IUB offers in academics, research, creative activities and organizations focused on the environment. IPE serves under the Office of the Provost and is jointly administered by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the School of Public Health, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

If you wish to register for the symposium, click hereRegistration will close Friday, September 28. Participants wishing to attend the Afternoon Workshop will describe their own Crossroads- like, interdisciplinary project (combining arts and humanities with science) in their registration. The projects should address global or local sustainability and/or environmental change. We encourage interested participants to collaborate on project proposals and attend the workshop together. Project proposals will be posted to the Crossroads IUB page as they’re accepted; interested parties can register to help workshop any of the accepted projects.

Thurs., Oct. 4: 5:00-7:30 pm – First Thursdays Festival, Fine Arts Plaza
Thurs., Oct. 4: 7:00 pm – Rising Tide: Crossroads Performance, IU Cinema
Fri., Oct. 5: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm – Crossroads IUB Symposium, Indiana Memorial Union (lunch provided)

 

Herron Welcomes master printmaker Kenneth Tyler, showcasing his collaborations with iconic artists

INDIANAPOLIS — This fall, the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI presents a survey of collaborations between Herron alumnus Kenneth Tyler and 11 of the 20th century’s most iconic artists in the Galleries at Herron Sept. 19-Nov. 10 in conjunction with IUPUI’s 50th-anniversary celebrations.

Kenneth Tyler, left, and Terence La Noue examining proofs from the “Ritual Series,” Tyler Graphics Ltd. artist studio, Mount Kisco, New York, 1987. Photo by Marabeth Cohen-Tyler

With a “no rules” mantra, master printer Kenneth Tyler worked with dozens of artists from 1966 through 2001 to create prints that redefined the medium of fine art printmaking. “Kenneth Tyler: The Art of Collaboration” offers an intimate view into Tyler’s visionary partnerships with Joseph Albers, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Terence La Noue, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, John Newman, Steven Sorman, Frank Stella and John Walker.

In addition, the exhibition brings together artwork on loan from the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, including the printing matrix for Frank Stella’s “Juam”; archival photographs taken in the Tyler Graphics Ltd. workshops during the time of the partnerships; and eight documentary films by Frank Cantor.

“Tyler is a distinguished alumnus of Herron School of Art and Design who graduated with a Master of Art Education in 1963 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Indiana University in 2005,” said professor and former Dean Valerie Eickmeier, who was integral to bringing the Tyler exhibition to Herron. “I am honored to welcome Ken back to the school and highlight works of art from his extraordinary personal collection in the Galleries at Herron.”

“Kenneth Tyler: The Art of Collaboration” is made possible by the generous support of the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation and the Sam Francis Foundation. In-kind support for the opening reception is provided by Sun King Brewery. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated 44-page booklet containing Tyler’s personal reflections and an essay by Jane Kinsman, head of international art at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Also on view in the Galleries at Herron Sept. 19-Dec. 12:

  • In the Marsh Gallery: MacArthur Award “Genius Grant” recipient Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley’s “The Minotaur Trilogy,” a trio of videos that bring a feminist perspective to the Greek myth of the minotaur, using 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.

A public talk with Tyler will occur during the opening reception for all three exhibitions from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at Eskenazi Hall, 735 W. New York St. The Galleries at Herron, located in Eskenazi Hall on the IUPUI campus, are free and open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesdays.

Parking is free, courtesy of The Great Frame Up Indianapolis with validation from the Herron galleries. Visitors may park in the Sports Complex Garage adjacent to Eskenazi Hall or on levels 5-6 of the Riverwalk Garage. Visit HerronGalleries.org for more information.

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Read the original article from IU News

Fantasy coffin designer Paa Joe bringing his brand of underground art to IUPUI, IU Bloomington

Revised: All events with Paa Joe have been cancelled as of 9-13-18

Many artists put their heart, soul and passion into their work for the world to see. For Ghanaian artist Joseph “Paa Joe” Ashong, however, his art is dedicated to the individual passion of his client and is typically seen by the world for only a short time.

Paa Joe stands with a fantasy coffin shaped like a lion. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Wigley, director of “Paa Joe and the Lion”

Paa Joe is a master craftsman who creates fantasy coffins, part of Ghana’s tradition of abebuu adekai, which started in the 1950s with artists creating custom coffins for priests and chiefs. These functional coffins are most often in the shape of animals but can be nearly anything the client dreams. Paa Joe and his team have made coffins as varied as lions, shoes and a baby grand piano. As one of the most well-known fantasy coffin makers, Paa Joe has had his work displayed in and commissioned from locations around the world.

Next week, Paa Joe, his son and a former apprentice will bring their expertise and the intricacies of this Ghanaian tradition to the campuses of IUPUI and Indiana University Bloomington. Paa Joe will work with students and faculty at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI during a nine-day workshop that will highlight Ghana’s traditions and the artistry involved in the making of fantasy coffins. In Bloomington, Paa Joe will be honored at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, which currently has an exhibit of fantasy coffins, and participate in a discussion and screening of a film documenting his work at IU Cinema.

“Paa Joe is an internationally respected artist and recognized leader in his field within Ghana,” said Greg Hull, professor and interim chair of fine arts at the Herron School of Art and Design. “It’s an honor to be able to host him on our campus thanks to a grant from the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute. It is our hope that through his visit and workshops, everyone will gain insight into a uniquely different creative process and world culture.”

In addition to this work with students at Herron, Paa Joe will host several fantasy coffin work sessions that are open to the public at the Eskenazi Fine Arts Center as well as a public talk at 5 p.m. Sept. 12 in Eskenazi Hall’s Basile Auditorium. Before leaving IUPUI, Paa Joe will lead and orchestrate a live performance demonstrating the Ghanaian funeral ceremony and celebration of life from 5 to 6 p.m. Sept. 14. The performance is open to the public, and attendees are invited to participate in the event.

Following his time at IUPUI, Paa Joe and his team will travel to IU Bloomington to view and discuss an exhibit on the Ghanaian tradition of fantasy coffins at IU’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

The exhibit, “Shapes of the Ancestors: Bodies, Animals, Art and Ghanaian Fantasy Coffins,” is part of the Bloomington campus’s Themester and was curated by Kristin Otto, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology.

Otto, who studies African art, was a research associate at the Mathers Museum in August 2017 when the museum received a one-of-a-kind donation of an airplane-shaped fantasy coffin. Given her background and research interests, Otto was asked to research and curate an exhibit on this unique Ghanaian tradition. She spent two weeks in Ghana visiting Paa Joe’s workshop, learning about the process and interviewing the people who work there.

“I was really, really lucky to be able to do this research,” Otto said. “I was able to get a sense of the artists, their technical skills and artistry. I got to see them work on a series of ocean-themed coffins as well as an ear-of-corn-shaped coffin that was to be used for a funeral.”

The exhibit features four full-size coffins: the airplane, a pink fish on loan from IU’s Eskenazi Museum of Art, a hen on loan from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and a Nike shoe also on loan from the Children’s Museum. In addition, visitors can view five mini/collectible coffins: a rooster, lion, eagle, beer bottle and Coca-Cola bottle.

The exhibit also focuses on Otto’s research in Ghana, including how the fantasy coffins are made, the process and the people behind the work. Visitors to the exhibit will also find information on the cultural uses of these coffins both within Ghana and around the world.

“These craftsmen just have an intuitive sense of the material and shape; they don’t draw or sketch anything,” Otto said. “They’re really skilled at this, and it’s an incredible honor for Paa Joe to come here.”

Otto’s exhibit is on display at the Mathers Museum through Dec. 16, and a reception honoring Paa Joe will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at the museum. Otto will also moderate a discussion with Paa Joe following the screening of the film “Paa Joe and the Lion” at IU Cinema. The documentary follows Paa Joe and his son, Jacob, on their journey to re-establish their workshop. Tickets to the 4 p.m. screening Sept. 16 are free and available through IU Cinema.

“This project is an intentional effort to broaden international programming on our campuses and continue strengthening Herron’s connection with the larger university,” Hull said. “For our students, having access to engage and work with professional artists provides insight that can’t be simulated in the classroom and shows them that there are many diverse paths that can be taken in pursuit of their own professional practice.”

Read the original article from IU News

 

Night at the Symphony

The IU Jacobs School of Music Concert Orchestra will open its season in downtown Indianapolis to honor Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre. The orchestra will perform the American composer’s masterful 1949 work, “The Age of Anxiety (Symphony No. 2 for piano and orchestra),” along with the overture of “La Gazza Ladra” by Gioachino Rossini and “Fontane di Roma” by Ottorino Respighi.

Conductor Thomas Wilkins will lead the IU Jacobs School of Music Concert Orchestra’s Leonard Bernstein tribute at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis. Photo courtesy of IU Jacobs School of Music

The 90-piece orchestra will feature Norman Krieger, pianist and IU professor of music, and conductor Thomas Wilkins, who came to IU in 2017 after leading orchestras in Los Angeles and Boston.

Tickets are $30.

Read more to learn about what’s happening at IUPUI!

Pirates and spiders inspire Herron furniture designer

One of Katie Hudnall’s two pieces in the current Herron School of Art and Design Biennial Faculty Exhibition had nightmarish inspiration.

“I moved into a place that was infested with brown recluses, which are poisonous spiders as it turns out,” said Hudnall, an assistant professor in furniture design at the Herron School. “In an effort to make friends with the population, I built them a table.”

Katie Hudnall, an assistant professor in furniture design at the Herron School of Art and Design, manipulates her new creation, “The Seeing Machine.” Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

After calling the exterminator, Hudnall sketched out “Spider Leg Lamp,” which stands on eight spindly legs. The thin pieces of reclaimed wood for the lamp were extracted from a mahogany pallet. The base was from an old, destroyed piano.

“Spider Leg Lamp” and many more pieces can be viewed in the faculty exhibition through Aug. 29 in the main gallery of Eskenazi Hall. A public closing reception will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 29.

Hudnall’s drawing talents were cultivated before her first time at a table saw. But once she tried to build the whimsical creations from her sketchbook, she was hooked.

“When I realized that I could literally build the way I was drawing things, everything made sense,” she said. “My drawing practice and my building practice came together for the first time.”

In most of Hudnall’s work — including her second piece in the exhibition “Side Table, Red” — she prefers to show the fasteners, screws, nails and hinges. The articulation adds to the overall texture and mood of the work.

Many of her furniture creations also feature glass “portholes.”

“I like making them in cabinets in particular because there is the public exterior and the private interior,” she said. “I like to give people a surprise, and I like to hint at that surprise.

“It makes you want to know what’s going on inside. It’s like an invitation to go into the piece. So that’s where that comes from. That and a love for pirates.”

Hudnall’s art is in galleries or collections across the nation. The latest, “The Seeing Machine,” was shipped to the Contemporary Craft gallery in Pittsburgh this summer. She has been featured in magazines and conferences, but participating in the Biennial Faculty Exhibition proves to her students that she can practice what she teaches.

“We show the students that we’re working artists,” Hudnall said. “We go home at night and work just as hard as they do to get our work made and to get it shown.”

Read the original article from IUPUI New’s Tim Brouk

Indiana University and Uffizi Gallery unveil website featuring first set of 3D, digitized artifacts

FLORENCE, Italy — As a result of a collaboration between Indiana University and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, it’s now possible to view some of the world’s most admired ancient artifacts and sculptures in 3D without traveling overseas. A newly launched website, www.digitalsculpture-uffizi.org, was unveiled Tuesday  in a ceremony at the historic Uffizi Gallery attended by IU Vice President for Research Fred H. Cate, as well as other IU faculty. The site currently contains over 300 digitized sculptures and fragments from the collection.

A sculpture at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, is scanned as part of the process to digitize the art in 3D. Photo by Indiana University

The project was announced in 2016 at the Uffizi Gallery in a joint presentation by IU President Michael A. McRobbie and Uffizi Gallery Director Eike Schmidt.

“As we accomplish the goals set forth in this unprecedented and enormously ambitious project, the unveiling of this new website marks a first major milestone in a collaboration that will generate unparalleled opportunity for scholarly engagement with materials housed in one of the world’s oldest and very finest galleries,” McRobbie said. “By leveraging IU’s scholarly expertise in ancient art and culture, as well as our extensive technological capabilities, this collection of magnificent, inspiring and irreplaceable classical antiquities can now be viewed and studied in an entirely new and fascinating way by scholars, museum professionals, students and the general public.”

In summer 2018, the IU team digitized 61 statues in the Uffizi and in the Villa Corsini, the complex where the Uffizi stores works of ancient art not on display in the galleries. The team is led by Bernard Frischer, IU professor of informatics, director of the university’s Virtual World Heritage Laboratory and one of the world’s leading virtual archaeologists. A key partner on the project has been the Politecnico di Milano, under the direction of professor Gabriele Guidi.

“I am very pleased by the progress of our work on this five-year project both in terms of quantity and quality,” Frischer said. “We’re about halfway through the project and are on target to finish the job, as foreseen, in 2020.

“We have already digitized more works of classical sculpture than has ever been done in a single museum. Even more impressive than the quantity of my students’ work is its quality. I have shown the models they have made to many museum professionals in the United States and abroad. They have been uniformly impressed, and this has led to invitations to undertake new projects of digitization at the Getty Villa in Malibu, Palazzo Altemps in Rome and the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.”

The digitization project includes training IU informatics and art history students in the techniques of 3D data capture, digital modeling and interactive online publication; creating a limited number of 3D restoration models of works of interest to individual project participants; and publishing the 3D models on several online sites, including the Italian Ministry of Culture’s internal conservation database, the Uffizi’s public website and the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory’s publicly available Digital Sculpture Project.

IU’s part of the digitization project is funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research as part of its New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities seed funding program, which supports faculty members in path-breaking programs of scholarly investigation or creative activity. The project is receiving technological support from University Information Technology Services.

“It’s exciting to see the progress of this ambitious project,” Cate said. “Not only does the website offer first-of-its-kind opportunities to a broad audience, ranging from scholars and museum professionals to students and the general public, but we’re creating a replicable model for other museums and institutions to use in digitizing their own collections.”

The Uffizi Gallery, adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in central Florence, houses some of the world’s finest masterpieces, including works by Botticelli, Caravaggio, da Vinci, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian. It is among the most visited museums in Italy, with more than 1.5 million visitors each year.

Read the original article from News at IU.

‘We’re Open, Come In’

With the hit Fred Rogers documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” still at theaters, a new art exhibition asks the question: “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?”

Shown from left: Museum studies graduate student Abi Lindstedt, art history associate professor Laura Holzman and DePauw University art professor Meredith Brickell are just a few collaborators with the House Life Project and its subsequent exhibition, “We’re Open, Come In: The House Life Project,” which runs through Aug. 30 at Gallery 924 in downtown Indianapolis. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

Read the original article from News at IUPUI‘s Tim Brouk.

“We’re Open, Come In: The House Life Project” pays tribute to the three-year House Life Project, which breathed colorful life into abandoned houses on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis from 2015 through 2017. In collaboration with neighborhood residents and artists from across the city, Herron School of Art and Design faculty members, students and alumni helped transform boarded-up homes into neighborhood art centers featuring installations, performances, murals and hands-on activities. There were also porch parties, lively meals and mobile gardens that could be biked around the streets.

“We’re Open, Come In: The House Life Project” opened Thursday, Aug. 2, and will run through Aug. 30 at Gallery 924. The show is a collaboration between House Life Project community members and IUPUI’s Museum Studies Program, with additional support from Herron and DePauw University.

In terms of House Life Project retrospection, the top goals for the organizers were to bring the vibe from the colorfully transformed houses into the gallery. Keeping the free, open and casual atmosphere was a must. No stuffy wine-and-cheese art exhibition opening, please.

“We have a mini-fridge stocked with juice boxes — have a drink, have a snack and hang out,” said Laura Holzman, associate professor of art history and museum studies at IUPUI. “Yes, we’re showing some wonderful objects, but it’s also about creating an environment out of the things that people connected with at the actual houses.”

The most recent House Life Project house was located at 605 N. Tacoma Ave. That small home and the previous two houses were all recently sold through Renew Indianapolis, and renovations have begun on the first two. Selling the houses, however, wasn’t a goal for the projects. Instead, the House Life Project was about finding value in the abandoned houses without renovating or rebuilding. The houses became spaces where community members gathered to explore difficult questions related to the rapidly changing neighborhood. The main goal for the exhibition is to invite new audiences to join that ongoing conversation.

“Some people who should be part of these discussions might never come down to an abandoned house on the Near Eastside,” Holzman explained. “How do you translate a deeply site-specific project into a gallery space with white walls in a totally different neighborhood? We want this to be a continuation.”

“We’re Open, Come In” recreates the do-it-yourself, hands-on attitude from the houses. Activity tables are set up. Well, the tables are actually old doors on sawhorses. Another table in the gallery represents a large community meal that House Life Project artists organized in 2017, complete with a 100-foot-long tablecloth crafted by Brittany Pendleton, a 2017 Herron MFA graduate, and Bailey Shannon. Some of the fabric came from Pendleton’s ancestors. Several video pieces documenting the projects will be screened during the exhibit as well.

At the entrance of the gallery, the pertinent question of “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?” is explored. Ideas gathered from House Life Project community members appear on one wall in bold green, yellow, orange and blue. Another wall asks viewers to write their own thoughts and post them. Another interactive station encourages viewers to “draw their neighbor.”

“We’ve made this space a House Life Project of its own,” said Abi Lindstedt, a museum studies graduate student. “I’m excited to be a part of the new guard to make changes like this to exhibitions that leave out so many voices. We want to advocate for the people.”

Another piece by Chris Hill, a Herron alumnus and current adjunct instructor, comments on real estate agents’ responsibilities in neighborhoods like St. Clair Place. He repurposed building materials such as particle board and pink insulation to frame tense language from the history of race-based housing discrimination.

Holzman said the 2018-19 academic year will be used to reflect on the three years of House Life Project, which will include “We’re Open, Come In” showing at DePauw University in the spring.

“It’s really important to us to create a space where our community feels comfortable,” Holzman said. “I’m really looking forward to people from different parts of town and different parts of the region coming together to talk about what it means to be a good neighbor.”

That is something Mr. Rogers would find quite neighborly.

Center for Ray Bradbury Studies Receives NEH Grant

Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at IUPUI, one of the most extensive single-author archives housed at a university, has received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Read the original article from News at IUPUI.

On April 9, the NEH announced $18.6 million in grants for 199 humanities projects across the country, including a number of humanities collections and reference resources grants.

The grant will allow the center to prepare a preservation plan and operational procedures that will help it to eventually expand into a museum and archive with gallery space, all open to the public.

“Ray Bradbury’s archives are a treasure not only for this campus but for all scholars and fans of Mr. Bradbury and his work everywhere,” said Thomas J. Davis, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, which hosts the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. “This generous grant will eventually allow more people to study and enjoy his life’s work and personal items.”

The center was founded in 2007, and the collection, housed in Room 121 of Cavanaugh Hall in the heart of the IUPUI campus, spans the lifetime of the science fiction master (1920-2012). His literary works, art, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, audiovisual materials, and more are all preserved — nearly 15 tons of materials in all. His home office has also been meticulously recreated with its original contents.

“He kept everything — everything was a memento to life for him,” said Jonathan R. Eller, director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and Chancellor’s Professor of English. “All his life, he was learning and observing. When he was beginning to dream about human beings going to outer space, the moon, and Mars, that was his dream before it was popular. His dreams became our dreams through books like ‘The Martian Chronicles.'”

Bradbury’s work continues to inspire millions today, from astronauts to statesmen to children. Literary and Hollywood legends such as Herman Wouk, Steven Spielberg, Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck, and Walt Disney, among many others, wrote letters to Bradbury during his lifetime — those are also housed in the collection.

The NEH grant will allow for the hiring of two graduate interns — at least one from the School of Liberal Arts’ Museum Studies program — devoted to coordinating all the work required to expand into a museum and gallery.

“We will be learning best practices for preservation and for inventory and accessioning, as well as the kind of activities that a gallery or archive or museum does to make sure the public has access to these items,” Eller said. “Once we’ve benefited from this grant, a lot of doors will open.”

Massive Work of Sentient Art Unveiled

Philip Beesley reaches up to activate sensors in “Amatria.” Photo by Amelia Herrick and Chris Meyer, IU Communications.

A living, protected space of vales, canopies, and membranes composed of hundreds of thousands of microprocessors, prototype cells, and gently swaying Mylar fronds.

This is the language used by Canadian artist and architect Philip Beesley to describe the enormous, seemingly living sculpture, “Amatria,” recently installed under the sunlit glass atrium on the fourth floor of Luddy Hall, the new home to most of the departments and programs in the IU School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.

View the original article by News at IU‘s Kevin Fryling.

The school officially unveiled the work of “sentient art” before a crowded audience at sunset April 11. The reveal, which featured flashing lights, dramatic music and comments from the artist and school leaders, took place during LuddyFest, a weeklong celebration that culminated in the building’s dedication ceremony April 13.

“Just like the Sample Gates are iconic of IU Bloomington, we expect ‘Amatria’ — with its unique combination of art, computing, architecture and technology — to become a symbol of our school and ‘renaissance engineering’ at IU,” said IU Distinguished Professor Katy Börner, who played the key role in bringing Beesley’s work to campus after meeting him at a conference in 2015.

It’s that vision of engineering — as a field that blends scientific and technical skill with creative thought and a foundation in the arts and humanities — that attracted Beesley to IU. An internationally known architect whose work has been featured at the prestigious Venice Biennale, as well as many other sites across the globe, Beesley is renowned for the use of cutting-edge technologies and materials — sensor arrays, 3-D printed materials and Internet-connected objects — to create enormous works of art that gently move or react as people pass near or through them.

“When people walk into the environment of this kind of sculpture, some reactions are quite anxious,” Beesley said. “But then the work starts to respond back — with small ripples of vibration and movement or gentle rustling sounds and billowing light — and those reactions quickly turn into a kind of curious and wondering conversation. People are invited to simply explore [the art] and discover their own relationships with it.”

During the past few years, Beesley has paid several visits to IU Bloomington to participate in behind-the-scenes preparations related to suspending a high-tech work of art composed of hundreds of thousands of custom parts from the glass atrium atop a four-story building. Most recently, he and colleagues from his Toronto-based studio were on-site to oversee the work of IU students and community volunteers, who played a key role in the sculpture’s creation and installation. IU students helped assemble the sculpture’s many highly intricate physical parts, wire electrical components and code systems that control how the work interacts with its environment.

Among the volunteers was Clara Fridman, a junior in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering who participated in several sessions assembling various small pieces of the sculpture. A fan of Beesley’s work, she also took the opportunity to hear him and members of his studio speak at previous several visiting lectures at IU.

“I was thrilled to contribute to this amazing piece for our school,” she said. “Each small part of ‘Amatria’ is so complex that it takes the work of many people. Everyone was very helpful, and there were so many different tasks we could always switch things up. The whole experience was a great exercise in teamwork.”

Katherine Shanahan, a graduate student in the IU School of Education, also volunteered on “Amatria,” assembling the plastic “whiskers” with fluid-filled glass bulbs that hang in the work’s “grotto” area.

“I was excited to volunteer because I’m very interested in the intersection of art and technology in my graduate studies,” she said. “The notion of sentient and responsive architecture that mimics natural, biological and chemical systems is fascinating.”

By playing a role in the sculpture’s creation, Beesley said, IU students gained experience in wireless technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors and other cutting-edge subjects. His studio has also designed software developer kits so students can create external components that interact with the art or visualize its activity.

Börner added that “Amatria” will convert the fourth floor of Luddy Hall into an “Internet of Things laboratory” as students learn to program devices that wirelessly communicate with the sculpture’s light, motion and sound sensors and the loudspeaker and motor actuators. By working on these projects, students will gain hands-on experience writing code that utilizes data from wireless-enabled devices — a highly applicable skill in today’s internet-connected world.

In addition to creating an artistic focal point for the building, the position of “Amatria” at the top of the central staircase in Luddy Hall is significant since the fourth floor houses the school’s intelligent systems engineering program. A hub of technology and creatively, the floor is also home to a large “maker space” with 3-D printers, circuit board soldering stations and other advanced fabrication tools. The sculpture’s presence in the center of the action will serve as a continual reminder of program’s guiding mission to create the “engineers of tomorrow,” fluent in art, science and technology.

“IU Bloomington is a leader in arts and humanities education, and the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering is inventing, implementing and optimizing the next generation of intelligent systems, such as smart cars, health devices and brain interfaces,” Börner said. “We hope the magnificent architecture of Luddy Hall, in combination with ‘Amatria,’ will inspire arts and humanities scholars from campus and beyond to visit our school, and fully engage with its faculty, staff and students.”

From Humanities: New Museums Confront Mississippi History

The ceiling sculpture, “This Little Light of Mine,” is the focus of the center gallery at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

The chess set is so small, it’s easy to miss in a case crowded with other artifacts in the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.

The pieces were fashioned from white bread and spit by Freedom Rider Carol Ruth Silver during her time in Parchman prison. The pieces—pawns roughly similar to a Hershey’s kiss and the knights and queens most recognizable by their distinctive shapes—bear the seams of tiny bits of bread, molded and pushed into place and dried, the darker pieces marked with blood. On a “board” scribbled in pencil, the set helps illuminate the larger story of determination and injustice in the movement that changed a state and a nation.

The country’s first state-owned civil rights museum and the Museum of Mississippi History opened December 9, 2017, capping the state’s bicentennial and drawing more than 25,000 visitors in the first month.

Funded by $90 million from the Mississippi Legislature and an additional $19 million in private donations for exhibits and endowments, the two museums together cover 200,000 square feet. A lobby links the two, which share an auditorium, classroom space, cafe, community room, and a shop in downtown Jackson. The museums complement each other with a complete look at Mississippi’s past—confronting the pain and celebrating the progress. Richly layered exhibits and interactive displays engage on a historic and a human scale with compelling artifacts, images, art, sound, settings, and media.

The civil rights museum focuses on the period from 1945 to 1976, when Mississippi was ground zero for the civil rights movement. The sometimes violent, often valiant history of Mississippians’ struggle against racism and oppression unfolds in stories of segregation, integration, intimidation, murder, marches, voting gains, and strength.

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