MANmade: a Frankenstein Group Show

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Frankenstein is at the heart of One State/One Story, an ambitious statewide read presented by Indiana Humanities and the Indiana State Library. Additionally, as part of Indiana Humanities’ Quantum Leap initiative and in partnerhsip with the Harrison Center, local artists recently read and gathered for a facilitated discussion of the classic story, then went back to their studios to create work for “MANmade, a Frankenstein group show.”


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Jug Man, Andrew Perry Davis

Curator Kyle Ragsdale said, “It is such an interesting time for us to look at this book as Indianapolis becomes more of a tech center with such an influx of people from that world moving into the city. The story’s multilayered themes of ethics and creation and ethics as it relates to outsiders or marginalized people are themes that are paralleled the tech world, too.”


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A Piece of Realism, Lydia Burris

The participating artists were given copies of Frankenstein to read, then they gathered at the Harrison Center for a facilitated discussion. For many of the artists, it was reminiscent of group discussions from college days. Many in the group were surprised to find the story’s creature to be the underdog, the character that they cared for more than they might have expected. Ragsdale explains, “The book is so much more relevant, multilayered, and complicated than the title suggests. Often when you think of Frankenstein, you think of B-movies, silly monsters, camp–but the book is more a heart and soul exploration into loneliness and feelings of being left behind, and madness, mixed with the layers of responsibility of the scientist, etc.” Personally, Ragsdale says he found that he found it applicable to psychological, emotional issues he is dealing with presently in his own life.



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to care for the monster, Elyce Elder

Lastly, Ragsdale says, “The book is truly remarkable when you think about author Mary Shelley–her life experience, her youth, her dynamic imagination–that could create such a complex world in such a short span of time. It’s exciting to see how the story stands the test of time and is so relevant to Indianapolis right now, as we create and imagine and try to rethink what our city can be.”

This show will surprise you as each artist has approached the show from their particular genre and things that spark interest from their own background. Some pieces are more illustrative, and some more abstract or even conceptual. Some artists were more interested in anatomy and science, while others focused on the story’s emotional aspect and still others explored the idea of “monster.”


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Woodland Creature, Kyle Ragsdale

MANmade includes work by Emma Overman, Elyce Elder, Kipp Normand, Andrew Perry Davis, Lydia Burris, Merle Pace, Elizabeth Guipe Hall, Kyle Ragsdale And Matthew I. Allen. The show opens Friday, February 2 with an artist reception from 6 to 9pm and hangs through February 23rd.

Pam Allee