Indy Ivy

On Thursday, November 3rd, Caleb Smith and I (Abi Ogle) drove to The Harrison Center in Indianapolis, Indiana for a 48-Hour Residency. Our job? To explore Indianapolis and make art in, well, 48 hours.

The first 24 hours:

Arriving at 9:30pm, our weekend was kicked off with a walk in the cool evening air to the Harrison Center with Bill and Joanna Taft. After viewing the studio space that we would soon be working in, we headed back to brainstorm. Joanna had shown us the Harrison Gallery’s new movable table that could be used for event venues and expressed her vision for a work of art that could incorporate it.

Bright and early Friday, we met local artist Alicia Zanoni at Milktooth for a taste of Indianapolis. Our time with her was inspiring. She told us about the time that she has spent at the Harrison Center and what it looks like to be an artist in a city like Indianapolis. After breakfast, we explored Fountain Square and several other streets in the surrounding area. Caleb took photographs of interesting wall textures as we walked. We made our way back to the Harrison Center at 10:30am to explore its many studio spaces and galleries and spend time talking with several of the wonderful artists and staff there. In the afternoon we resumed exploring, visiting Monument Circle and Market Street. At 6:00, we attended First Friday which happened to feature the memorable work of Kyle Ragsdale. We were able to talk with several people from the community as they flooded into the gallery for the food, wine, and great artwork. We were even able to participate in selling some of the artist’s work, something that allowed us to see people’s faces light up with excitement at their newly purchased piece. It was an incredible display of community, and it was made even more unique by the fact that all of these people came together to look at artwork. We loved being a part and seeing the fun that was being had throughout the gallery.

The second 24 hours:

9:30pm rolled around, and Caleb and I set out to make some art. The theme for the show that we made a piece for was “Emerald City”. This could include but was not limited to the color green, relation to the city, or even to the Wizard of Oz. During the day, we collected roughly 40 images of walls that we found in Indianapolis (including a mural at Fountain Square, bricks from a home on Delaware Street, and the Legos in the wall across from the HCA) and Caleb began arranging them in Photoshop and then tinting them emerald green. After we finalized a sketch of our piece and finished the digital aspect of the project, we went to bed, eager to start in the morning. At 6:00am the next morning, we met photographer William Rasdell, who generously allowed us to use his printer, and printed out the green-tinted wall photographs on 24” x 7’ strips of translucent photo paper so that it would be similar to stained glass. As soon as those were printed we began cutting ivy leaves out of them.

Though ivy is traditionally found on walls, now the walls of Indianapolis were on the ivy. As we cut the leaves out, we proceeded to thread the leaves onto a long strand of fishing line to give the illusion of levitation. For lunch we got another taste of Indy by grabbing some delicious sandwiches and coffee from The Foundry with artists Beth Ann and Grant Thomas. Soon, we began assembling the leaves to create a hanging piece that was characterized by 19 strands of hanging ivy. We began working through hanging the piece when artist, Chad Campbell wandered into the gallery and offered some of his expertise on wire. By 8:30pm, our piece was installed and by 9:00 it was completely finished. It was magical to watch the table descend as the ivy leaves shimmered, seeming to hum in the light. It was equally fun to watch the table ascend, taking the leaves back up with it, as if the ivy was climbing.

The trip was a whirlwind of art and memorable experiences. What the Harrison Center does is really unique, and we were honored to spend time with such a thriving community of artists. There is something really special about artwork that takes place in such a short amount of time, and it is even more special if it pertains to a place such as the Harrison Center. Our work was both specific to Indianapolis and significant to us in a personal way. Our choice in material was decided beforehand, and allowed us to work quickly and concisely in such a short time frame. The opportunity was something that we will most likely remember for a long time, and we look forward to visiting again!