The Indiana University Center for Art and Design has spent its first year of existence showcasing Columbus’ unique design to hundreds of students who have come through its doors.
But that’s just the first step in a process intended to teach people to appreciate how different artistic expressions such as architecture, art and landscaping can merge beautifully in one city.
Indiana University in Bloomington and Columbus’ Community Education Coalition opened the art and design center a little more than a year ago on the northwest corner of Jackson and Third streets with a vision to inspire a complete approach to creative design.
That’s where center Director Kelly Wilson and his team are honing that vision, which includes a designer-in-residence program now in place and a degree program for Bloomington-based students that will take at least three years to launch.
The long-established model of teaching architecture to architecture majors, painting to art majors and fashion to fashion majors isn’t enough, Wilson said. So the IUCA+D was created to develop an appreciation for all those things and how they can work together for a pleasing aesthetic.
Take the Henry Moore sculpture at the Bartholomew County Public Library. Ever notice how the sculpture is positioned off-center on the library plaza so it frames First Christian Church?
Now you’re thinking like an artist.
If you go
About Columbus’ Indiana University Center for Art and Design:
Address: 310 Jackson St. downtown, on the southeast corner of Sears building
Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, or by appointment
Information: 812-855-5223; http://design.iub.edu
Current Exhibit: “The Exquisite Corpse” student project
Columbus stands to gain from this partnership, too, as more design-oriented minds flow into this city to perhaps help it develop a more creative culture of its own.
The IUCA+D plans to:
Move students from their homes in Bloomington to new homes in Columbus in as few as three years. That way, students who already visit Columbus as a living laboratory can totally immerse themselves in its culture and design.
Continue its artist/designer residency program, which kicked off Wednesday when Massachusetts painter Anthony Fisher became the first brought in to critique students in IU’s Master of Fine Arts program and speak to the public in Columbus about his work. He will depart Sunday.
Wilson, who has taught design at Columbia, Harvard and Yale universities, conceded that finding local housing will take effort, given that much of it is too pricy for a student.
But he said the hassle over housing will reap rewards for both students and the city once that obstacle is overcome.
The architecture that has given Columbus its international distinction has been created by artists from other places. But Wilson said that IUCA+D programming could someday so profoundly transform Columbus that new and artsy features could emerge that were thought up and developed here.
John Burnett, president and chief executive officer of the Community Education Coalition, said he can see early signs of that transformation.
About 400 students came through the center during its first 12 months, and others continue to filter in — not just from Bloomington, but also from other colleges such as the University of Texas, Miami of Ohio and Iowa State, to name a few.
Burnett said IUCA+D is not an actual school of its own, from where students can transfer their credits. Instead, it is more of an off-site extension for other schools’ curriculum.
As for the building itself, there’s a studio, a classroom with a few tables and chairs, and an exhibit hall that the public can enjoy Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Its current exhibit, the “Exquisite Corpse,” is the most eye-catching feature, with crisscross designs, standing tubes and other oddities that different student groups are constantly adding to and modifying in an ongoing game of creativity.
Wilson said his team will bring a full-time administrator to the IUCA+D in December to manage finances and grant proposals, coordinate schedules and work with the public. For now, the building is open only during public hours or by appointment, when center representatives or students are there.
Outside the building, however, is where most of the student learning occurs.
Marlene Newman, a senior lecturer at IU in apparel merchandising and interior design, taught at the center Fridays during the spring semester and developed a love for Columbus.
“It’s a great community with a lot of people willing to talk to the classes and explain elements of Columbus that the students weren’t familiar with,” she said. “It also has a great environment to learn about the different elements of design.”
Rachel Dyer, a junior interior design major at Indiana University, said students in her class last semester studied different buildings downtown to understand why the architects designed them as they did. Part of that experience was to consider side-by-side buildings to understand how they complemented one another, Dyer said.
She said she left Columbus with a better understanding of art.
Arthur Smith, director of marketing and media relations at the Columbus Area Arts Council, said the IUCA+D already has had a profound effect on Columbus.
Historically, people have visited Columbus on their own or with student groups to study the city’s art and architecture. Now, design-minded people are becoming a bigger part of the culture.
“Eventually, that’s a great economic booster for the community,” he said.
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