Fritts Center Sculpture Perfect for Fall — And For Its Student Artist’s Spring Forward

Jesús Nava stands under his sculpture “Changing of Seasons,” which was installed in the Dr. Lloyd and Jan Hagedorn Main Street common space of the Fritts Clinical Care Center at the School of Dentistry. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Like the fortune of finding the perfect autumn leaf on the ground, budding careers can be shaped by chance.

Sculpture senior Jesús Nava considered leaving his Herron School of Art and Design program before a phone call regarding his recent piece “Changing of Seasons” reignited his artistic drive.

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.”

This detail shot shows five of the 11 aluminum-sheet maple leaves created by sculpture senior Jesús Nava. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

“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.

Read the original article from IUPUI News’ Tim Brouk

Devastation Documented: ‘Life and Limb’ Shows Civil War Toll

English professor Jane E. Schultz stands at the “Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War” exhibit in the Ruth Lilly Medical Library. She will give her talk, “Surgical Silences: Civil War Surgeons and Narrative Space,” at noon Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the library. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

“No tongue can tell, no mind conceive, no pen portray the horrible sights I witnessed.”

The quote is from an unnamed wounded soldier in 1862 during the Civil War, and it is among the horrors of the war presented in a visiting exhibit, “Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War,” from the National Library of Medicine. The six panels will be displayed through Dec. 29 on the first floor of the Ruth Lilly Medical Library.

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.

“Life and Limb” features rare drawings and photos from the Civil War. Images courtesy of the National Library of 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.”

Dispelling myths

Images courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

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.

‘Honorable scars’

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.

Postwar innovation

Images courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

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.”

Read the original article from IUPUI NewsTim Brouk 

Steel to Robotics: The Evolution of David Bowen’s Sculptures

David Bowen. Courtesy of David Bowen

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.

David Bowen, “5twigs,” 2017. Courtesy of David Bowen

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.

HERRON: How did you utilize data for “tele-present water?”

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.

David Bowen, “tele-present water,” 2011. Courtesy of David Bowen

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?

David Bowen, “tele-present wind,” 2018. Creative Commons image courtesy of Ars Electronica on Flickr

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.

Digital Humanities Librarian Open Hours

Caitlin Pollock
Digital Humanities Librarian

Have questions about Digital Humanities? Come to IUPUI Arts and Humanities on Wednesdays from 12 to 1pm to meet with Caitlin Pollock, the Digital Humanities Librarian at the Center for Digital Scholarship at University Library! Caitlin can help you think through your project and develop next steps or workflows, and recommend methodologies, trainings, tools, and platforms. Caitlin can also advise on data visualization, Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines (TEI), textual analysis, data management, and project management. Your DH research can just have started or in the middle development. No appointments required, first come first serve.

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Herron Lithography Legend Dies

Garo Antreasian. Photo courtesy of Herron School of Art and Design

Garo Z. Antreasian — Herron alumnus, Indianapolis native and former Herron faculty member — died Nov. 3 at the age of 96. He had an extraordinary artistic career and was a noted painter, lithographer and art educator.

After serving in World War II, Antreasian completed his studies at Herron and began teaching there even before receiving his degree in 1948. In the 1950s, his own creative work began receiving awards and critical regional and national attention. In 1960, he was appointed technical director of the newly formed Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, a pilot project to revive fine art lithography in America.

#MyIUPUI memories with Craig McDaniel

Craig McDaniel. Madison Ide

In spring of 1999, Jean Robertson – my wife and a member of Herron’s art history faculty – made plans to participate in Herron’s study abroad trip to China. We were super excited as this would be our first journey to that fabled nation, with its ancient civilization and mysterious present. The trip, organized by Robert Eagerton, then a senior member of Herron’s painting faculty, would be leaving with approximately a dozen adventurous undergraduate students who were excited beyond words.

Then, out of the blue, news broke: On May 7, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the U.S. demolished the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade! Our government quickly apologized, claiming that it was entirely by accident. But tensions between China and the U.S. spiked. Mobs throwing rocks attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The U.S. government issued an official warning against all trips to China by Americans. Our trip to China was scheduled to leave in a matter of days! What did we do?? What should we do???

Eagerton – after conferring with Gary Dow, the translator and native guide who would be accompanying the trip – made the decision: “The trip is on.” One Herron student pulled out, but the rest of us went “all in!” and our trip took off from the Indianapolis airport as scheduled. We were literally the only Americans on the plane. Indeed, we seemed to be the only American visitors in the whole of China! Were we in danger? Did the Chinese despise us?? Were they rude???

Professors Craig McDaniel and Jean Robertson and Crystal Horton (B.F.A. Art Education ’02) with elementary school students in China, May, 1999. Courtesy of Craig McDaniel

To the contrary, the Chinese people we met on the month-long journey showered us with friendship. Everywhere we went, people thanked us for our courage in coming to visit their country at the time of strife.

In this brief recounting, I can’t go in to the details at any length, but a few episodes hint at the generosity of the Chinese people towards us: We (Herron teachers and students) were invited to participate in a practice session with an acrobatic troupe in Beijing. In Hunan, Jeff Dalton and I (Jeff was a ceramics major at Herron at the time; he now teaches at Herron part-time) were invited to play a game of “doubles” table tennis with the president of Hunan Normal University during our week visiting with that university. Jeff had played competitive table tennis (ping pong!) at tournaments in Las Vegas and Detroit. … Me? I simply swung blindly and counted on uncanny good luck to hit the ball and send it back safely over the net. Our Chinese competitors were, in the end, far superior.

I like to think that our gracious defeat helped, in some small way, to heal the wounds between the two nations. Herron to the rescue!!!

Read the original article from News and Events at Herron School of Art + Design

IUPUI Represented Picture Perfectly in ‘SONS’

Most journalists are far more accustomed to reporting the news than being a newsmaker.

Vernon A. Williams’ career in journalism, communications, community outreach and volunteerism helped make him a suitable subject in the new photography exhibit “SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male,” which shows through Oct. 31 at the Indianapolis Central Library. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

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.

Michael Twyman was pleased at the presentation of this photo of him at the “SONS” exhibit in the Indianapolis Central Library. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

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.”

Intergroup Dialogue Community Showcases Activities and Groundbreaking Certificate Program

From left: Robert Rebein, interim dean of the School of Liberal Arts; Tamara Davis, dean of the School of Social Work; Chancellor Nasser Paydar; David Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology; and Thomas Stucky, executive associate dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, cut a ribbon celebrating the deployment of posters about intergroup dialogue at IUPUI.

The Intergroup Dialogue community at IUPUI held a showcase Sept. 18 to celebrate activities completed during a Welcoming Campus Initiative grant project, including launching the first undergraduate certificate in intergroup dialogue at a college or university in Indiana.

At the showcase in University Hall, Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar praised the project, saying, “When we started the Welcoming Campus Initiative, we had certain things in mind. We wanted to empower our faculty, staff and students to work together and bring positive change.”

“The Intergroup Dialogue project truly emphasizes the goals of the initiative,” Paydar said. “You’ve created a major project, and you’re making a major impact going forward.” Some of the standout features of the Intergroup Dialogue initiative include its multidisciplinary nature, its capacity to help students develop skills that will prepare them for success in a diverse workforce, and its being both a philosophy/theory and a practice framework of education for certificate-seeking students.

The “Pathways to Community Inclusivity Through Dialogue” project team hosted activities around campus to usher in IUPUI’s 50th Anniversary celebration and contribute to making IUPUI a more inclusive, welcoming campus. The team planned to conduct 50 activities beginning in August 2017 but ended up hosting more than 60 events that supported four key outcomes:

  • Increased campus engagement with sustained dialogues that promote an inclusive campus and foster cultural diversity and social justice.
  • Increased clarity of how systems and structures impact cross-cultural awareness and communication across campus.
  • Increased clarity of — and elimination of — communication boundaries for both majority and minority groups so they can talk and listen to each other in an open environment before drawing conclusions.
  • Better-informed campus units on issues of social justice and identity so they can develop more-effective diversity plans and move toward collective action for change.

The 60 activities impacted more than 1,250 people across campus and provided more than 1,575 hours of direct engagement to foster opportunities for dialogue and inclusivity.

A total of 50 posters focusing on the four stages of intergroup dialogue — creating meaning, examining identity, having difficult conversations and building alliances — have been deployed throughout campus.

Thirteen students have enrolled in the 12-credit interdisciplinary certificate in intergroup dialogue since it was launched in 2017. The certificate is housed in four IUPUI schools: Liberal Arts, Public and Environmental Affairs, Social Work, and Engineering and Technology.

The certificate enables students to receive academic credit for learning transferable skills in intercultural communication, conflict resolution, civil discourse and leadership, and it serves IUPUI’s strategic plan goal to promote an inclusive campus culture.

Upon completion of the certificate program, students will be able to demonstrate leadership capabilities to support others through intergroup conflicts and to help them better function as teams, corporate citizens and community members.

The showcase featured elements that foster effective dialogue — food, art and music. The art and music were produced by students from Herron and the music therapy program in the School of Engineering and Technology.

There were also three short demonstrations: one designed to show how people can be encouraged to share more truth and inspiration with one another; another that explored the social identities of participants; and a third composed of faculty, staff and students who offered information about intergroup dialogue at IUPUI and shared their experiences as participants.

Carolyn Gentle-Genitty, assistant vice president for university academic policy and project leader for the Pathways to Community Inclusivity Through Dialogue project, thanked all of those who supported or engaged with the Intergroup Dialogue program. She encouraged students to sign up for the certificate and invited members of the IUPUI community to join the Intergroup Dialogue community.

Read the original article from IUPUI NewsRich Schneider

IUPUI Works Indy: Melissa McDermott Unites Art and History Interning at the Indiana State Museum

You know internships provide great experience. You also know that Indianapolis provides great opportunities. Put them together, and you have a dynamite combo that prepares you for a lifetime of success.

See how Herron School of Art and Design senior Melissa McDermott colors outside the lines with her internship at the Indiana State Museum.

Melissa McDermott has always wanted to be an artist, but her internship at the Indiana State Museum opened her eyes to the wealth of creative professional opportunities. Video by Myron Russell, Indiana University

Read the original article from IUPUI News’ Becky Hart

Carving for Community, Herron Students Honor Halloween

David King, a senior sculpture student, crafts a “weird, scary” face into a pumpkin between classes at the Eskenazi Fine Arts Center. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Being from Salem, Herron School of Art and Design senior David King has Halloween flowing through his veins.

Oh — that’s Salem, Indiana. Not Salem, Massachusetts.

“Yeah, we have a lot more cows than witches,” the sculpture major quipped.

Still, King joined about a dozen of his fellow students for a quick lunch-hour break between intermediate and advanced sculpture classes to carve pumpkins outside of the Eskenazi Fine Arts Center, which houses much of Herron’s sculpture and ceramics programs. King utilized tools usually saved for clay busts to transform his gourd into a ghoulish visage.

Inspired by the imagery of Villafane Studios and other monstrous mugs, King has been trying his hand at striking, creepy pumpkin carving. The techniques used are similar to other reductive sculpting techniques, which are challenging in any medium.

Carving for community, Herron students honor Halloween. Video by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

And of course, every pumpkin is different. During this carving, King found the walls of his pumpkin were about two inches thick near the stem, but they thinned out down the gourd.

“I had to bail on the nose early on,” explained King, noting the skull-like indented schnoz on his creation. “It was just so soft.”

All of the pumpkin guts were saved to feed student Shelby Lahne’s goats, Peanut and Crackerjack. The seeds were saved for later roasting.

Sculpting unity

Greg Hull, Valerie Eickmeier Professor in Sculpture and fine arts department chair at Herron, said he encourages his students to participate in activities outside of class. Some helped out during the current IUPUI 50th Anniversary Habitat for Humanity build. Most days it’s a pizza lunch together and the occasional movie night.

The sculpture students also share an affinity for Halloween, so pumpkin sculpting — er, carving — was a natural activity.

“It’s as much about community as anything else,” Hull said. “A big part of being in art school is what happens outside of the class structure anyway. Part of it is working together; part of it is sharing these tools. There are really different sets of skills here in terms of people spending a lot of their time carving and people who really don’t use carving as a primary part of their artmaking, but everyone’s carving today.”

Stress relief

Zack Hurst, a Herron School of Art and Design sculpture senior, displays his carved pumpkin, which he created in less than two hours between classes on Oct. 23. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

The students sat at picnic tables, which were protected by plastic sheeting. Pumpkin chunks flew into the air as the students got to work using a variety of kitchen knives, X-Acto knives and sharp loop tools for peeling away the pumpkin rind. First-year art education major Hayley Davidson had a demented Pumpkin King design in mind before she started hacking away.

“What if he got real messed up? Like something happened to him, like madness?” queried Davidson, large knife in hand, before admitting she is “slightly” allergic to pumpkins. “I don’t do this often, but I live for Halloween.

“I’m just going to walk into my 3D design class and be like ‘Guys, this is my pumpkin.’ I’m proud.”

Seniors Lindsey Nevins and Samantha Wright volunteered for pumpkin duty to help relieve stress from intense studio classes.

“I didn’t need a concept,” said Nevins, holding her new cat-o-lantern. “I didn’t have to worry about it being good; I just kind of did it.”

Wright has been a hardcore Halloween fan since childhood. She said there was no way she was going to miss the opportunity to carve up a pumpkin. The Greenwood integrative studio practice major has taken multiple sculpture classes, but she said the years of art training are less important than having a clear mind when approaching a blank pumpkin.

“You just go for it. If you think too much about it, you’re probably not going to have something you enjoy,” said Wright, also a horror-movie buff. “It’s all about letting loose and having fun. This is my favorite holiday.”

King was one of the last students to finish. Always the harshest critic on himself, he hoped for a result that featured a more rounded, 3D look. But the ghoul on the pumpkin still impressed his classmates. Luckily, Halloween is still days away, and there are plenty more pumpkins to serve as canvas for the young artist.

“It’s a process that I really enjoy,” King said, “just trying to carve into it and create these weird, scary faces.”

Read the original article from IUPUI News‘ Tim Brouk