Mighty Dreams: Designing and Fostering Belonging in ‘America’

Rising global inequality, political instability, violence, food insecurity, climate change: these and other factors have resulted in a worldwide refugee crisis unprecedented in scale. From Syria to South Sudan, Myanmar to Guatemala, tens of millions of people around the world have left their homes in search of safety and survival. In the United States, fires, flooding, and lack of affordable housing and job opportunities are among the environmental crises and economic injustices influencing internal migration and sweeping demographic change within cities, states, and regions. With migration often painfully disrupting personal and collective understandings of culture and place, displaced, recently arrived, and changing communities are seeking new meaning and hope around what it means to live and belong in America and the world.

Despite the urgent challenges we face, we are also living in a time of renewed civic, activist, and human spirit. Indigenous peoples continue to fight for sovereignty, self-determination, and thriving ecological futures. Cross border and international immigrant rights coalitions are building sanctuaries and diverse coalitions to combat nativist ideology and violent state policy. Instead of giving up or retreating with despair, youthful and more seasoned artists, designers, scholars, and organizers are together creating spaces to heal, find a sense of belonging, and construct new ways of being, living, and working in community. This work requires compassion, courage, strength, experimentation, and an expansive imagination of the world as it could and should be.

This year Imagining America (IA) celebrates twenty years of supporting publicly engaged artists, designers, scholars, and organizers who imagine, study, and enact a more just and liberatory America and world. Inspired by the cultural landscape of New Mexico and the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential elections, IA’s 20th Anniversary National Gathering will consider how we define, design, and foster belonging in our home communities and as a nation state. With belonging, indigeneity, and migration serving as framing concepts, IA invites proposals that advance public scholarship, dialogue, collaboration, research, programs, and advocacy on realizing an America that, as in Langston Hughes’ mighty dream, is the land it must be – a place of opportunity and equality for all. The gathering will explore such questions as:

●    How do our diverse relationships to land, displacement, and migration inform and interact with the ways we envision place and belonging – culturally, socially, politically, economically, spiritually, ecologically, and agriculturally?
●    How may Indigenous, traditional, cross-border, and community-based ways of knowing be used to shift how belonging is defined and designed, and who participates in this process?
●    In what ways can public memory, history, art, and design be used to address living legacies of oppression and to foster belonging within our institutions and communities?
●    Given that our own histories and narratives of land, belonging, and migration are often different from one another, how do we build cross-movement solidarities towards the long haul project of social change for a more just, equitable and liberatory future?

IA also welcomes proposals that provide participants with new skills or tools, create opportunities for collaboration, and/or more generally strengthen publicly engaged knowledge and practices that integrate the methodologies of arts, design, and the humanities.

For general questions on the proposal process before submitting your proposal, please join us on May 14, 2019 from 10-11 AM PT for an informational webinar.

Instructions on how to submit your proposal are available on IA’s website atwww.imaginingamerica.org >> National Gathering >> Submit a Proposal.
The submission deadline is Friday, June 7, 2019 at 11:59 PM PT.

Sponsorship Opportunity:
Would you or your organization like to sponsor event programming or travel to the IA 20th Anniversary National Gathering? Sponsorship comes with opportunities to promote your work while also supporting students and community based participation in the gathering. For more information on sponsorship, please contact Erika Prasad, Associate Director of Membership and Development: eaprasad@ucdavis.edu.

Learn more about the Session Format here.

Imagining America 20th Anniversary National Gathering
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Friday, October 18, 2019 – Sunday, October 20, 2019
Submission Deadline: Friday, June 7 11:59 PM PT

Contested Image by Laura Holzman

Join us May 22nd from 5:30-6:30 at Indy Reads Books to hear Laura M. Holzman discuss her new book, Contested Image!

About Contested Image
Thomas Eakins’s 1875 painting The Gross Clinic, the Rocky statue, and the art collection under the stewardship of the Barnes Foundation are all iconic in Philadelphia for different reasons. But around the year 2000, they emerged as subjects of extended – and heated – controversies about their “appropriate” location. By revisiting these debates, Contested Image demonstrates how public reception transformed prominent elements of Philadelphia’s visual culture. The book’s insights into the public envisioning of place will resonate with readers regardless of where they call home.

About Laura Holzman
Laura M. Holzman is an associate professor of art history and museum studies at Indiana University, IUPUI, where she is also appointed Public Scholar of Curatorial Practices and Visual Art. She holds a PhD and MA in visual studies from the University of California, Irvine, and a BA with highest honors from Swarthmore College. Her work is dedicated to activating art history, its methods, and its related institutions as tools for strengthening communities, expanding democratic discourse, and creating a more reflective society.

May 22 | 5:30-6:30 PM
Indy Reads Books
911 Massachusetts Ave.; Indianapolis, IN

We’ll see you there!

Associate Professor Laura Holzman On How Public Art Can Redefine The Urban Identities Of Our Cities

 

Laura Holzman in her office at Herron School of Art and Design. Herron School of Art and Design

Laura Holzman, associate professor of art history and museum studies and public scholar of curatorial practices and visual art, has just authored her first book, which was eleven years in the making.

Published in April by Temple University Press, “Contested Image: Defining Philadelphia for the Twenty-First Century” investigates how Thomas Eakin’s 1875 painting “The Gross Clinic,” the Rocky statue, and the Barnes Foundation each helped create a new identity for the city of Philadelphia.

We sat down with Holzman to discuss her book, the origins of her research, and what it feels like to finally see it in print. The interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

HERRON: Tell us about your art historical approach for writing the book.

LAURA HOLZMAN: “Contested Image” is about contemporary visual culture, but it’s also about how historical objects from different points in time are contemporary to one another when we look at the roles that they’ve played more recently in regard to Philadelphia’s changing identity. I focus on big debates about where art belongs in the city from approximately 1990 to 2010. But some of the episodes start brewing in the 1980s and others trail into 2012.

I couldn’t have articulated this when I started working on the project, but the mode of art history scholarship that I am really interested in is public scholarship. What that means is doing scholarship that’s meaningful and shareable outside of academia and written in a way that is accessible. It can also mean scholarship that’s generated in collaboration with people outside of a university – that’s the work I do now.

My book looks like very traditional scholarship because it’s a book published by a university press and written by only one person. But my research questions didn’t come from conversations that were happening inside academia; they came directly from conversations that were happening outside in the world. I’d first heard about these issues on the radio and while sitting on the train in Philadelphia, listening to the people around me. People were having really passionate conversations about where art belongs.

Some of these conversations were divisive. They made me wonder, what’s really going on? How can I use my resources as a scholar to interpret this discourse constructively? My professional experience in Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector allowed me to develop a sensitivity to the issues at stake as well as understanding of who the major players are and how these stories unfolded. As I offer my own interpretation of each episode, I also try to honor the voices of the people who participated in these public exchanges about issues they cared very deeply about. I see this book as my way of contributing to those conversations.

HERRON: What’s your connection to Philadelphia?

HOLZMAN: I’ve spent a lot of my life in and around Philadelphia – visiting family, going to college, working with arts and culture organizations. My experiences there shaped how I approached the material in the book.

When I worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and so I walked up the Rocky steps almost every day on my way to work. It was hard not to think about the relationship between the Rocky statue and the site of the museum.

I was also working at the museum when Thomas Jefferson University sold “The Gross Clinic.” The university had made a deal with philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton, who was collecting art for the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The university said, ‘Ok, you guys can buy the painting for $68 million, unless a local institution can match the price.’ Oh, and they told local institutions, ‘You have 45 days to match that enormous price.’ There was a massive fundraising effort and a huge public relations campaign to generate the interest and the dollars to purchase the painting. With support from that campaign, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts jointly purchased the artwork.

I wasn’t thinking about it in an academic way at the time, but I was steeped in the environment of what was going on because of my job as a press relations coordinator. One of my responsibilities was to keep track of all the press clips that were generated about the institution. I’m a curious person, so I read them all. And then I didn’t really think much of it. When I went to graduate school, I revisited the newspaper articles and blogs about the painting. I thought, ‘There’s something going on here that people aren’t talking about’ and that was the hook for me and this research project.

HERRON: Is that what you went to graduate school to study?

HOLZMAN: Not at all. There’s a good story about that, actually. During my first quarter in the interdisciplinary PhD program in visual studies at UC Irvine [University of California, Irvine], I was waiting in the department office and one of the professors walked into the room. I casually mentioned that I’d noticed she would be teaching a seminar on museums, cultural memory, and history. She responded by saying, ‘I’m so glad you’ll be taking it!’ So, I enrolled in the class because I felt I’d made some kind of unintentional verbal commitment to take the course.

For the research project, we could write about anything we wanted that related to the subject of the seminar. I just kept thinking about “The Gross Clinic” and I had to get it out of my system. I wrote the paper and, I’m not kidding, it was the easiest first draft I’ve ever written. It was like the story was writing itself.

HERRON: What kinds of memories did you study during your research?

HOLZMAN: One of the things I noticed from reading all of those press clips and blog posts was that people were making it really personal when they were talking about “The Gross Clinic” and how it belongs in Philadelphia. For example, somebody said that it would be almost like losing a friend if the painting were to leave Philadelphia. There was this very personal language of memory and trauma that resonated with themes we’d examined in the class, so it came together as a really interesting example of memory practices related to museum collection practices.

HERRON: So, how did your short seminar paper turn into a 200-page book?

HOLZMAN: I ended up revising and expanding it fairly substantially for my master’s thesis. I revised and expanded it again for a chapter in my dissertation. Then, I revised and expanded it again for the book. Along the way, I added chapters about other prominent public conversations about where art belongs in Philadelphia, and I learned that the stories of “The Gross Clinic,” the Barnes Collection, and the Rocky statue are deeply intertwined with one another and with Philadelphia’s identity.

When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write about, my dissertation advisor said, ‘Make sure it’s something you’re really okay with thinking about for ten years.’ I thought, ‘Pshh, ten years.’ The first words that I typed for this research were in 2008. It’s really been eleven years!

HERRON: How does it feel to finally see the book in front of you?

HOLZMAN: When I first held it in my hands I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really a thing.’ There were definitely times when I thought this was not going to be a thing. Writing is really hard and the process of writing a book is very complicated. Enough of the steps are beyond the author’s control that it can feel like it might never manifest into anything. It is really cool to have this physical evidence that I completed the project.

I’m excited to have the book out in the world. I’ve published segments of the book previously, but now people can know the other parts of the story. It’s also a little bit scary, in part because of the way I’ve been doing scholarship for the past few years, which involves a lot of collaboration with stakeholders along the way. But with this, I’ve put it out in the world and, sure, it’s gone through academic peer review, but somebody might read this book and see their name in it because they gave a quote to a journalist and now it’s in the book. I wonder, is that person going to appreciate the way that I used their language? I hope that they will. I feel the weight of the responsibility of writing about people’s lives.

HERRON: What impact do you hope to make with “Contested Image?” What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

HOLZMAN: I think that people across the country and internationally can learn a lot from looking at my research in the book. We can learn about how people are using visual culture to define the places where they spend time. I also want to contribute to a shift in ways of thinking about which places are valuable for people to study from a distance. For example, you asked me earlier about my connection to Philadelphia. Would you have asked a similar question if this book were about New York?

Since I moved to Indianapolis, I’ve seen a lot of things that remind me of what I know about Philadelphia from the 1990s and the 2000s as the city started to change the way it was talking about itself and as the city started to invest in different areas. Philadelphia has major issues that it’s still working out, so I don’t want to imply that Philadelphia is perfect. But I think there’s a valuable lesson in the ways Philadelphia embraced the arts and culture sector as a major element of its new identity.

Indianapolis would really benefit from following a similar lead and recognizing that the arts and culture are central to making a place a vibrant and rewarding place to live, work, and visit. Arts and culture can look like different things for different people. We benefit from having a variety of those things, but we also benefit from truly embracing the possibilities that they offer.

Read the original story from Herron School of Art + Design

IU Online Conference

The fourth annual statewide IU Online Conference will be held October 30, 2019, at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing.

Your conference hosts from the Office of Online Education, the Office of Collaborative Academic Programs, and eLearning Design and Services are seeking proposals from IU faculty, administrators, advisors, success coaches, and staff across the state who are innovators and collaborators in the online space.

We will consider proposals that address empirical research, showcase best practices, and/or describe lessons learned related to one or more of the following areas:

  • Program development and administration
  • Coaching, advising, student engagement, and co-curricular programming
  • Marketing, admissions, and recruitment
  • Teaching and learning innovation
  • Technology that advances digital learning

Of special interest are presentations describing intercampus and/or interdisciplinary collaborations and proposals that have application to multiple disciplines. Sessions will last for 30 to 45 minutes.

Proposals are due at 11:59pm on Friday, June 7th. Presenters will be notified in August.

Submit your proposals now! 

Herron Sculpture Graduate Took Country Roads To Commencement

Shelby Lahne, a Herron School of Art and Design sculpture graduate, watches her pet goats Crackerjack, left, and Peanut play on her property in rural Shelby County. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University
Shelby Lahne, a Herron School of Art and Design sculpture graduate, watches her pet goats Crackerjack, left, and Peanut play on her property in rural Shelby County. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

The roads to graduation for 7,122 students at the May 11 IUPUI commencement differ tremendously. Some left home half-a-planet away to study here; many others earned their degrees without having to leave beautiful and bustling Indianapolis.

A senior about to graduate, Shelby Lahne was born and raised in Pleasant View, Indiana, and went to high school in Fairland, population 315. She commuted 30 to 40 minutes to classes daily. While home is only a county away, her experience is another world from the downtown Indianapolis campus, which is where she earned a degree in sculpture from the Herron School of Art and Design. Pleasant View consists of an offramp from I-74 east, a gas station and a handful of roads with quaint houses on large plots of land.

While most of her classmates weren’t raised in small-town Indiana, it has fueled her art in terms of direction and materials.

Shelby Lahne poses with part of her installation piece, "Nests," which currently hangs in University Library. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University
Shelby Lahne poses with part of her installation piece, “Nests,” which currently hangs in University Library. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

“I think being from a small town but going to school in the big city gives me a different perspective on things,” said Lahne, whose high school graduating class was about 100 students.

Thousands of IUPUI students, staff and faculty have seen — and walked under — a recent commission of Lahne’s: “Nests” has hung in the second-floor lobby of University Library since the fall, and it will continue to show for another year. The four large constructions sway quietly by thick rope. That rope is also wrapped around each nest made of burlap over a steel, egg-shaped understructure.

“Over the steel rods, there is a layer of chicken wire, and over that is a layer of carpet padding,” Lahne revealed. “I got the idea from looking at weaver bird nests. Instead of cup-shaped nests, they create dome-shaped nests with just one little hole in them. They make them in large groups for protection purposes.

“I thought that was very interesting because it’s like the library itself — everyone comes here. We may all be doing our own thing, but we’re still in here together.”

Following “Nests,” Lahne continued with the suspension theme in her work. Ropes, pulleys and the defiance of gravity were utilized in most pieces.

Photos courtesy of Shelby Lahne
Photos courtesy of Shelby Lahne

“I’ve used a lot of concrete and cinder blocks,” Lahne said. “They all have to do with weight, tension and balance.

“A lot of my ideas come from different building materials, like metal, concrete and rope. Out in the country, you just find these things in someone’s yard or their barn. They are typically thought of as junk or scrap, but the materials seem to have a story to them.”

Before her years at IUPUI, Lahne earned an associate degree in art therapy from Vincennes University. She expected to pursue the field at IUPUI, but she found a better fit in Herron’s sculpture program, which is headquartered in the Eskenazi Fine Arts Center. Lahne’s recent pieces have shown well in Herron galleries and classrooms, and the young artist will pursue a graduate degree in sculpture.

As she looks for her next stop along her academic journey, Lahne must decide what to do with her two beloved pets. An option would be finding a farm for Peanut and Crackerjack while she continues her studies.

Peanut and Crackerjack love to eat and roam around Shelby Lahne's property in Shelby County. Photos by Liz Kaye, Indiana University
Peanut and Crackerjack love to eat and roam around Shelby Lahne’s property in Shelby County. Photos by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Like it has for countless young Hoosiers, 4-H Club became a big part of Lahne’s high school years when a friend roped her into showing goats for the Shelby County Fair. Not getting attached to your show animals is a rite of passage for many 4-H kids. Lahne was, however, able to rescue a pair of goats from slaughter. First was Peanut. He was kept at her grandfather’s house just outside of the town limits. Since a solitary goat is an unhappy one, Crackerjack, a pygmy mix, was welcomed into the herd. The smaller, younger goat was another 4-H animal that is now enjoying a retirement full of fresh alfalfa hay, more than an acre of lawn with delicious grass and jelly beans for treats.

Lahne constructed a pen and a small barn for her pets. It’s true that the goats are eating machines, but they don’t eat cans or other items meant for the recycling bins. But they will decimate any kind of yard waste with haste.

“They’re similar to a dog,” Lahne said of her goats. “They always follow me around. If I have them out, they’re always where I am, and whatever I’m trying to do, they’re always in the way. Peanut wants to be petted all the time.”

Lahne has shown numerous pictures and videos of Peanut, a Boer breed now weighing in at 200 pounds, and Crackerjack, who is now almost 100 pounds, to her classmates.

“Everyone at the sculpture building wants me to bring them in,” said Lahne, with a laugh. “That would be impossible to do. If you try to pet Crackerjack, he’ll think you’re playing and try to headbutt you.”

Small-town living inspired Herron sculpture graduate Shelby Lahne to achieve commissions, goats and commencement. Video by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

Read the original story from IUPUI NewsTim Brouk 

Commencement Speakers Hope To Inspire IUPUI’s Newest Graduates

Communications studies major Connor LaGrange will address more than 7,000 of his fellow graduates during IUPUI's May 11 commencement ceremony at Lucas Oil Stadium. Photo courtesy of the Division of Undergraduate Education
Communications studies major Connor LaGrange will address more than 7,000 of his fellow graduates during IUPUI’s May 11 commencement ceremony at Lucas Oil Stadium. Photo courtesy of the Division of Undergraduate Education

The pressure’s on for Connor LaGrange, not only to wrap up his final finals as an IUPUI undergraduate but also to deliver a five-minute speech during commencement.

While most Americans would rather stand on the edge of the Salesforce Tower than give a speech in front of thousands of people, LaGrange embraces it. He has been delivering speeches and presentations in an academic setting since his senior year in high school, when he was dually enrolled as a first-year communication studies student at IUPUI. As a senior supervisor in the IUPUI Speaker’s Lab, he worked with a wide array of students to improve their presentation skills — from shaky-kneed freshmen to international graduate students.

On May 11, all eyes will be on the Indianapolis native as he represents his class of 7,122 graduates. The ceremony starts at 10 a.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I’m approaching it as if I were sitting in the audience: What would I want to hear from the speaker?” said LaGrange, who will begin his pursuit of an applied communications graduate degree from IUPUI in the fall. “I’ll be talking about four points that I think we can use to be successful — not just academically or professionally, but life-related things that the parents and family members in the audience can use, too.”

While having the gift of gab will get you on podiums and behind lecterns, LaGrange said, fine-tuned communication skills improve businesses, health networks and other fields.

“I can walk into a room of engineers and not know engineering and be just fine,” he explained. “From clients to higher-ups, there isn’t a single place in our world where people aren’t communicating with one another in one fashion or another.”

LaGrange’s years at IUPUI were packed. But he wasn’t too busy to notice the university’s growth, which coincided with that of Indianapolis.

“It’s an incredible city, and I’m blessed to go to an incredible university in the heart of that city,” LaGrange said. “I think both institutions have hit their stride during my time at IUPUI.

“I think Indianapolis for sure made a name for itself attracting bigger companies and conferences. I see our economy only getting stronger. Hoosier hospitality is a thing, and IUPUI is one of the few Division I urban campuses that is a short walk to the heart of the city. Graduates no longer have to go to New York City or other bigger cities. Students will continue to get opportunities in their own backyard.”

Sarah Evans Barker, senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, will also speak at the commencement ceremony. Deemed a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society, she has been instrumental in numerous behind-the-scenes roles that have helped the university grow and thrive. Barker helped create the Bepko Scholars and Fellows Program, and she has worked with the Indiana University McKinney School of Law while participating as a member of the chancellor’s advisory board and several dean and chancellor searches.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Photo courtesy of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Photo courtesy of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana

“I’ve been able to see IUPUI grow and put down significant roots in the community,” said Barker, who earned a social service degree from IU Bloomington. “I’ve known many people who have been a creative force in determining IUPUI’s mission. It is an honor for me to give this talk to these graduates. In terms of my career, I’ve had a lifelong affiliation with the university.”

While Barker has addressed hundreds of rooms full of people throughout her impressive career, IUPUI’s commencement ceremony will be the judge’s largest audience by far. In the home of the Indianapolis Colts, she said, she may not have a touchdown dance for IUPUI’s newest graduates, but she hopes her remarks will inspire and ring true.

“I’m hoping that there will be enough cohesiveness that the purpose of the gathering will be realized,” Barker revealed. “I hope they can connect with some ideas that I want to leave with them.”

Read the original story from IUPUI NewsTim Brouk 

Mother Nature Inspired IUPUI Students’ Design For A Safer Football Helmet

The thick peel of a pomelo was one of nature's bio-inspired designs the students examined.
The thick peel of a pomelo was one of nature’s bio-inspired designs the students examined.

Two IUPUI students drew upon the wisdom of Mother Nature to create biologically inspired designs that could be used to create a safer football helmet.

Their research has been published in the Society of Automotive Engineering International Journal of Transportation Safety.

The student authors of the paper, “Cellular Helmet Liner Design through Bio-Inspired Structures and Topology Optimization of Compliant Mechanism Lattices,” are Jacob DeHart, a media arts and science student in the School of Informatics and Computing, and Joel Najmon, an engineering student in the School of Engineering and Technology.

Zebulun Wood, a lecturer in media arts and science, and Andres Tovar, an associate professor of mechanical and energy engineering and an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, are co-authors and co-directors of this research project.

“Our research and design algorithms show innovative, energy-absorbing cellular helmet liners,” Najmon said. “Cellular helmet liners are ideal for impact energy absorption, as their structures can mimic the excellent absorbing capabilities of foam and energy protective biological structures while maintaining the ability to be engineered for specific impact, dynamic responses.”

The two students were given the reins to experiment and explore different ways of making something that could be useful to people, DeHart said. “I took a more interpretative look at nature, mimicking functions and forms from nature, while Joel took a more scientific one, putting numbers into a program to get results.”

This work shows lessons learned from bio-inspired designs using protective structures such as pomelo peel, nautilus shell and woodpecker skull, Tovar said. “Our work explores a design approach to tailor the response of a cellular material subject to impact, an approach that offers the potential to mitigate head injury by decreasing acceleration, decreasing penetration and increasing specific energy absorption.”

“What this study really gets to is that nature, through millions of years of innovation and evolution, knows best,” Wood said. “We took some of nature’s hardest surfaces — surfaces that could be translated to helmet design — and re-created them in a way that can be simulated in engineering software.”

Nature may have provided inspiration for the cellular designs, but it took the students months to figure out how the bio-inspired shapes developed by DeHart could be re-created in a way that they could be used by Najmon in engineering simulation software that showed whether their helmet liner would reduce risk of injury.

The challenge the two students faced, Wood said, was to learn how to create geometric shapes that were inspired by nature but could also be simulated in engineering software. “Until our experiment, that was very difficult to do. It’s still difficult to do. Now IUPUI knows how to get those shapes to work together.”

The kind of collaboration that enabled the students to bridge the gap between the domains of media arts and science and engineering could only happen at a campus like IUPUI that encourages people in different fields to work together, Wood said.

The helmet liner study was supported by a grant from the Sports Innovation Institute at IUPUI.

Read the original article from IUPUI NewsJohn Schwarb and Rich Schneider

Digital Scholarship Team Gives Blind Students Unique Senior Portraits

Dressed in their emerald green graduation gowns and mortarboards, the 19 graduating seniors from the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired lined up for their class pictures.

Two queues occupied the cafeteria space inside the historic school: one for the traditional still-portrait photographer and another for a team from the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Scholarship manning two 3D-scanning stations. Most of the students sat down for both.

The scanning took only about a minute for each student. The digital composites will be sent to the school’s records as well as to the students, who can then 3D-print the scan.

Emma Parker, a biomedical engineering sophomore and 3D digital assistant for the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Scholarship, does a 3D scan of Kurt Stickradt, a senior at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Photos by Tim Brouk, Indiana University
Emma Parker, a biomedical engineering sophomore and 3D digital assistant for the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Scholarship, does a 3D scan of Kurt Stickradt, a senior at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Photos by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

“We hope this becomes a new tradition for us,” said school superintendent Jim Durst. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and an object is worth a thousand pictures. Our kids can have access to information through 3D printing, but this really personalizes it at a level we hadn’t thought of or anticipated.”

The technicians used Creaform portable 3D scanners, which take about 1,000 digital photographs per second. The software stitches the images together to create a surface in staggering detail. The 3D scans can sharpen the details of a face — or any object — to a tenth of a millimeter.

The Center for Digital Scholarship has been busy for years with collaborations with the Benjamin Harrison Presidential SiteIndianapolis Motor Speedway MuseumIndianapolis Firefighters Museum, and several other institutions and programs. Typically, the team scans inanimate objects for virtual online museum experiences that users can access anywhere on the planet. At the 2018 Regatta, the team scanned 200 students’ faces, including one who 3D-printed a life-size version of his face to make into a Halloween mask. At the Jan. 24 50th Anniversary Birthday Bash, 400 students were scanned.

Steve Mannheimer, professor of media arts and science, had worked with the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for years as part of assistive, accessible and inclusive technology research with the Department of Human-Centered Computing. He met with Durst to plan the April 16 scanning session.

Decades of two-dimensional class photos line the school’s halls, but many of the students can’t see them. The goal of the class of 2019’s 3D scans is for that to change.

“One research question is, ‘Will the students recognize themselves?'” Mannheimer said. “Thanks to digital technology, we can provide tactual, acoustic, gestural opportunities to say, ‘How will this help somebody who may be differently abled to better interact with the world?'”

Durst was excited about what the 3D scanning will lead his students to.

“In the future, when they come back years from now with their children and grandchildren,” he said, “they can say, ‘Here’s my picture. This is what I look like,’ without depending on somebody else to find their picture.”

Visually impaired students had the option of keeping their eyes closed, as the handheld scanners emit bright lights while scanning. No sound is emitted during the process as the technician holds the scanner about an arm’s length from the subject.

Derek Miller, 3D project coordinator for the University Library Center for Digital Scholarship, scans a graduating senior at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The student will be able to send the file to a 3D printer. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

“It’s like a projector that slides across a surface’s mountains and valleys,” said Derek Miller, 3D project coordinator. “We can also capture color and texture of materials.”

Inspired by a few other assistive technology initiatives, Miller hopes to offer scanning services to the school again — not only to the graduating class, but for every class. From kindergarten to senior year, blind students will be able to realize their physical growth from their 3D-scanned portraits.

“It’s going to allow them to feel themselves tactilely,” Miller said. “Someday, hopefully, we’ll be able to scan a blind student at the age of 5 and then scan them every year. In theory, we could build a timeline of them growing that they can actually feel.”

Senior Cassondra Ernstes was one of the first students to get scanned. She was thrilled to be among the first class to have such unique senior pictures.

“That was pretty interesting. I didn’t feel anything,” Ernstes said. “I’ll be 3D-printing this. We’ve never had anything like this before. It’s pretty different, but pretty cool.”

Read the original story from IUPUI New’s Tim Brouk 

These scanners were supported by a grant from the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute.

Apply to Participate in the 2019-20 Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar

The Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts Program (RSA) is a program of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute that brings together artists, religious leaders, religious communities, humanities experts, and a broad range of publics from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives for sustained study, analysis, and discussion of religious texts in a classroom environment. Directed by Rabbi Sandy Sasso, these textual discussions, which explore the varieties of religious experience and understanding, provide the inspiration for creating new artistic works (e.g. music, poetry, fiction, drama, visual art, dance). Artists share their creations through exhibitions and presentations to members of the Central Indiana community, including religious organizations, congregations, schools, libraries, and community groups.

2019-20 Theme

We will explore the story of Jonah in the Bible and the Quran and consider a variety of themes including the arbitrariness of unwarranted compassion and the desire to escape calls to human responsibility. When others cry out, Jonah runs away or sleeps. Might we see contemporary responses to crises through Jonah’s actions? What about the human desire to flee distasteful obligations? Through visual arts, poetry, and music we will explore the symbolism of the big fish as “reassuring womb” or “terrifying tomb” and the strange prophet who hates change but nevertheless brings it about in the end.

Faculty

The faculty list for the 2018-19 seminar is still growing. So far, the faculty include

  • Anila Quayyum Agha, Associate Professor of Drawing and Illustration in the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI

  • Julia Muney Moore, Director of Public Art for the Arts Council of Indianapolis

  • Sandy Sasso, Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck

  • Steven Stolen Host of WFYI’s Stolen Moments

  • Shari Wagner, Author and Indiana Poet Laureate (2016-2017)

  • Joseph Tucker Edmonds, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Religious Studies at IUPUI

Meetings

Sessions will be held for 2 1/2 hours weekly for a total of eight weeks and will meet evenings from 6:00–8:30 p.m. on 9/19, 9/26, 10/3, 10/10, 11/7, 12/12, 1/9 or 1/16, 2/6

How to Apply

Applications for this seminar will be accepted from April 29 to May 28, 2019.

Applicants may be anyone in the community who is active (as a professional or amateur) in the artistic disciplines. Selected applicants must be able to make a commitment to attend all seminar sessions and engage in open and respectful dialogue. Seminar participants will produce creative work to be performed and/or exhibited in a public forum. Seminar participants will receive a $150 stipend at the conclusion of the group exhibition.

Application Form

To apply to be an artist-participant in the current seminar, please submit your application using the online form.

In addition to basic demographic information, the form asks you to answer the following questions:

      • How do you see your art form interacting with a religious text?

      • How do you imagine this experience will impact your creative work?

You will also need to upload

      • An artist resume

      • Three examples of your work

For more information, please visit our website!