THE Indiana University Center for Art and Design, which is housed in the Sears building on Jackson Street, is the core of a classroom/laboratory concept that was launched here just more than a year ago.
Its primary role is and will remain that of a learning institution, but it also serves as a springboard to broader experiences in the community itself. It is in that function where the city of Columbus can derive benefits and provide support.
While the physical borders of the center are limited to the confines of the facility that was once part of Courthouse Center, a former downtown shopping mall, it is the city itself — with its abundant supply of noted works of contemporary architecture and a variety of art forms — that is a living laboratory for the students.
The integration of the IU students into Columbus has been gradual and is still evolving. At present, it is still a part-time experience with the students being bused to Columbus from Bloomington and back. Eventually, center officials hope that the facility can evolve into a full-time learning opportunity, with the students finding living quarters in Columbus, but that is a concept still in the formative stages.
There is no question of what Columbus offers to the IU program. By exposing the students to the city’s architecture and public art, the education amounts to a hands-on experience, which entails explorations beyond the buildings and public sculpture.
For instance, the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives would seem to present an opportunity for students to develop an even greater knowledge of the design process as it applies to the local built environment.
The Columbus Area Visitors Center certainly would seem another logical source of information, particularly through a number of longtime volunteer tour guides who have a wealth of personal knowledge about the city and its architecture.
Partnerships like these not only benefit the IU center and the local entities, but they can have a ripple effect among local residents and IU students.
One important aspect to consider is the reaction of the people who live, work and study within this particular environment. These buildings and art forms are not just objects for viewing but are an important part of the daily lives of local residents. How they affect those who live amongst them is a subject that deserves deeper exploration.
Architecture and art are only a portion of the IU Center for Art and Design. It covers a broad range of subjects that have become inter-related locally through this innovative program.
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