The Reunion Project


The atmosphere on First Friday was joyous as old friends, alumni of Herron School of Art and Design who hadn’t reconnected in years, came together once again to celebrate their love of art, their history and each other’s work. Over 100 pieces, the work of Herron School of Art and Design alumni from 1902 to the present, are displayed in Gallery 2 and Hank and Dolly’s Gallery this month. Pastels and oils, photography and sculpture give a sweeping chronicle of the long, glorious history of this local institution.

In 1895, local businessman John Herron left $200,000 to the Art Association of Indianapolis, which founded the John Herron Art Institute (museum and professional art school) in 1902. Local architects Vonnegut and Bohn designed the Italian Renaissance style Museum building which now houses Herron High School. Other buildings were added later, and eventually Herron left its home on 16th Street for new buildings on the IUPUI campus. The first Herron faculty included many well-known and influential artists including T. C. Steele, J. Ottis Adams, William Forsyth, Richard Gruelle, sculptor Rudolph Schwarz, and Otto Stark. The original Herron Museum's art collection became the foundation of the Indianapolis Art Museum collection. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, which separated from Herron in the 1970s, is now one of the largest art museums in the United States.

Herron’s students, faculty, and alumni have created some of Indianapolis’s most iconic works of art. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monument Circle showcases sculpture by former Herron faculty member Rudolph Schwarz. The Lilly Medal, awarded biannually to the recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation, was created by Herron graduate Rik Tommasone. Herron alumnus Don Gummer, an internationally recognized artist, was commissioned by the City of Indianapolis, Eli Lilly and Company, Kite Companies, and Herron to create Southern Circle, a piece of public art for Meridian Street Plaza. We continue to be impressed by the quality of work that comes from more recent Herron graduates.


The Reunion Project is curated by The Cool School Project, a group of Herron Alumni whose mission is “to provide financial support for arts education programs in Indianapolis schools, to inspire youth to respect the power of art in the community and to understand the dynamic role of art in education and the viability of pursuing a career in the arts.” This once-in-a-lifetime exhibit can be seen at the Harrison Center through November 22.