Exhibit Columbus installations already sprouting — and one space is open for use

Seven weeks before the new Exhibit Columbus exhibition will open, parts of the 18 planned installations are already sprouting.

And one space-in-progress may begin to be used by the public.

Two of the best examples of early beginnings surface in Miller Prize pieces now underway: MASS Design Group’s “Corn/Meal” at Central Middle School on Seventh Street, where some of the projected 10,000 corn stalks are sprouting; and Agency Landscape + Planning’s “XX” featuring a variety of now-flowering plants at the AT&T Switching Center at Seventh and Franklin streets.

At the AT&T building, Agency landscape architect Gina Ford and planner Brie Hensold, who already have installed benches around the structure, want people to know that they are welcome to gather in the still-forming space.

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Actually, a local storytelling group used the area just days ago.

“It was a great way to begin using the space, and to see the capacity for it,” said Anne Surak, Exhibit Columbus’ director of exhibitions.

Exhibit Columbus is an annual exploration of art, architecture and design under the umbrella of the nonprofit organization of Landmark Columbus. The event “seeks to celebrate Columbus’ design heritage while making it relevant to new audiences,” according to organizers.

It runs Aug. 24 to Dec. 1. Funding for Exhibit Columbus has come from individuals, foundations and corporations around Indiana. Exhibit Columbus is a project of Landmark Columbus, a program of Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

Exhibit Columbus organizers long have emphasized the role of volunteers in making the exhibition happen. Two years ago, when some of the materials for the Miller Prize installation “Wiikiaami” arrived later than expected, a team of welders and others from Faurecia worked tirelessly in the final days of preparation to make certain that the exhibit opened on schedule.

Hauser Junior-Senior High School senior-to-be Elijah Heslop, 17, is among the younger volunteers who are familiar with all the exhibits to be. As a member of the Hope chapter of Future Farmers of America, he recently helped with the corn planting on the Central Middle School property. He became enamored of Exhibit Columbus at the first exhibition in 2017.

“What fascinated me the most was how these exhibits seem to have popped up out of nowhere,” Heslop said, recalling that he especially was especially drawn to Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura’s creation “Conversation Plinth” at the Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza.

Heslop is hoping to volunteer to help with other exhibits as needed.

“I have a personal connection with Exhibit Columbus now,” Heslop. “It is a part of me.”

It’s even more of a personal part for organizers such as Surak, who helped with the corn planting. She noted that MASS Design group designers are aiming to educate people about the background of food — “and I think that’s already working.”

“I at least have a better understanding and a better empathy of what goes into it (food production),” she said.

Plus, after excessive rain played havoc with planting, she saw something else, too.

“I’ve seen that no matter much you prepare,” Surak said, “there still are so many things beyond your control.”

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The Exhibit Columbus exhibition is a once-every-two-years display of a wide variety temporary architectural installations meant to highlight or somehow connect to nearby, permanent structures and buildings in Columbus.

The exhibition is set for Aug. 24 to Dec. 1 and is an exploration of art, architecture, and design.

Exhibit Columbus seeks to celebrate Columbus’ heritage while making it relevant in new and modern ways, according to organizers. It is the signature project of Landmark Columbus, which was created in 2015 to care for the design heritage of Columbus, and is under the umbrella of The Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

To learn more, visit: exhibitcolumbus.org