Bulldogs in the City
The Butler Bulldogs have made the Butler-Tarkington area home base since 1928, but bulldogs roam throughout the city. As part of Butler's core curriculum, students are required to complete an ICR (Indianapolis Cultural Requirement), which consists of a semester of volunteering somewhere outside of the Butler "bubble." The ICR is also paired with a variety of courses that Butler offers. I chose to enroll in Perspective in the Creative Arts Experiencing the City - Indianapolis, which is housed in the Athrophony and History departments. The course inspires students to think about Indianapolis as a public space that has been intentionally placed, culturally shaped, and is accessible to all. The course meets weekly, and our classroom is the city.
During the semester, class has been held while exploring the cultural trail on bikes, walking on Monument Circle, exploring the 100 Acres Park, and even walking the City Market Catacombs. Our professors challenge us to examine how art facilitates the interaction between the body and environment, beauty and social justice, urban reform, and politics. We study public art, performances, and even architecture to understand how they are integrated into our experience and shape our sense of self and identity. Each student has been paired with a community partner, whose goal is to directly engage them with diverse niches in our community. The Harrison Center is one of six organizations that Butler has paired with, and has helped connect students to the city by having them help with First Friday preparations, PreEnactIndy, and exposing them to the diverse community they serve through art.
This past November, Anna Afshar’s quasi-Parisian paintings on Indianapolis were featured in the City Gallery. Afshar explains that each of her paintings is her, “personal connection with places or people [she] encountered and discovered.” When I first saw her paintings, I was welcomed by the familiarity. She paints Indianapolis from a street view-the same view that I had while exploring the city during class.