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Creating an Autoportrait: Alba Fernandez-Keys

Today's blogger, Alba Fernandez-Keys, is the head of the libraries and archives at the IMA.

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

To complement The Essential Robert Indiana, on view through May 4, the IMA invites visitors both on-site and online to Create Your Autoportrait using some of the same elements that Robert Indiana incorporates in to his. During the run of the exhibition, IMA staff members will be creating their own Autoportraits and blogging about it.

The fourth in this series features Alba Fernandez-Keys, head of the libraries and archives at the IMA.

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I’ve spent the majority of my professional career with the IMA Library and Archives so this department figures prominently in my auto-portrait. I have worked at the IMA for almost 14 years in various capacities—I am currently the Head of the Libraries and Archives. I graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson.  It was the job at the IMA that brought me from the sunny Southwest to snowy — but beautiful — Indy.

Ledger dated 1908.

Ledger dated 1908.

The library was first listed in the annual report as an individual department of the John Herron Art Institute in 1908. The first item accessioned in the ledger also dates from this year. What began as a small group of books and magazines donated by members has now grown to be a collection of over 100,000 items in multiple formats and languages. When the new IMA building opened in 1971 (at our current location on the former Lilly Estate) the library was named in honor of Eleanor Evans Stout, trustee and board officer from 1968 to 1972. Green, purple and orange were the three colors used in the original design of the library.

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The old library on Krannert Pavilion.

This year marks the 4th anniversary of the establishment of the IMA Archives. Starting an archives is a huge endeavor that requires dedicated staff to organize, arrange and process large volumes of historical materials. I think of the Archives as the place where we maintain our institutional memory. Many of the decisions our staff make with regards to our collections and buildings are based on documents and correspondence preserved by our department. Although we still have a lot of work to do, we are proud to have several  fully processed collections accessible to researchers and are in the middle of a large digitization project, Documenting Modern Living: Digitizing the Miller House and Garden.

 

Creating an Autoportrait: Justin Grange

Today's guest blogger is Justin Grange, budget, planning and procurement manager at the IMA.

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

To complement The Essential Robert Indiana, on view through May 4, the IMA invites visitors both on-site and online to Create Your Autoportrait using some of the same elements that Robert Indiana incorporates in to his. During the run of the exhibition, IMA staff members will be creating their own Autoportraits and blogging about it.

The third in this series features Justin Grange, the IMA’s budget, planning and procurement manager.

Like many of Robert Indiana’s “Autoportraits,” I’ve decided to make mine personal as it reflects the things that I am most proud of at one of the happiest times in my life thus far.

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The 3 celebrates my third year working in my dream position with the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Most people don’t know this about me, but before I ventured into the professional world of Finance and Accounting, I was a fine arts student double majoring in painting and furniture design. Always curious how I would meld my artistic and business talents, the IMA provided the perfect opportunity and has allowed me to work within an industry in which I am truly passionate.

Justin Grange tackles Autoportraits and budgets at the IMA.

Justin Grange tackles Autoportraits and budgets at the IMA.

ROBIN and EMMA are my wife and daughter. The two most important ladies in my life, they have played and continue to play a big role in shaping who I am today.

The numbers 112 and 909 reflect the date of November 29, 2009. This was the day that a new chapter began in my life, my daughter’s birthday. A day full of emotions (love, hope, excitement, confusion, fear), I never really felt grown up until I realized I was going to be responsible for bringing up another human being; but each day since has been an exciting challenge full of surprises and happiness.

FISHERS is the community where our family has planted roots and where many memories have been formed. We now refer to Fishers as our home and share in that experience with family, friends, and great neighbors.

Crimson and Cream are the colors of my alma mater, Indiana University. GO HOOSIERS! Orange just happens to be my favorite color as it’s warm, but also fiery, exciting, and energetic all at the same time. If I could paint any color as a representation of my personality, it would be orange.

 

Creating an Autoportrait: Corey Venable

Corey Venable is the IMA's junior graphic designer since October 2013.

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

To complement The Essential Robert Indiana, on view through May 4, the IMA invites visitors both on-site and online to Create Your Autoportrait using some of the same elements that Robert Indiana incorporates in to his. During the run of the exhibition, IMA staff members will be creating their own Autoportraits and blogging about it.

The second in this series features Corey Venable, junior graphic designer at the IMA since October 2013.

“… don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time.”

— Debbie Millman, host of the Design Matters radio show

To me, this is essentially what this is all about.

I try to take things as they come and, five years ago, I moved to Indianapolis to pursue my college degree. I chose 3 because 13 is my lucky number. I was born on the 13th and consider it lucky even when most people consider it an unlucky number. Fort Wayne was my 260, my hometown. On July 19  (719) of this year, I will be married to the man who proposed to me in the doorway to HERRON School of Art and Design, the evening of my senior show. Herron was my home, my CHALLENGE, and my passion. I always think of what’s in front of me, and what challenge to tackle next. To choose to stay in Indy following graduation was hard, but it’s turned out to be one of the best thing’s I have done. Yellow makes me think of the sun, which is beautiful at sunset, and peach and blue are my favorite (and wedding) colors.

And that’s me, in an Autoportrait.

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IBM Selectric II Typewriter

Today's blogger is Mary Inchauste, Design Arts Society Board member and Associate Principal at CSO Architects, Inc.

Right near the entrance to the new Contemporary Design gallery, proudly displayed is an electric typewriter, a big blue IBM Selectric II.

The original Selectric was introduced in July 1961, and changed the way offices functioned until the advent of the personal computer. The industrial design is credited to Eliot Noyes. The Selectric II entered the market in 1971 with additional features.

Eliot Fette Noyes, designer (American, 1910- 1977), The IBM Corporation, manufacturer IBM Selectric II Typewriter, 1971 Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of Lee and Dorothy Alig, 2011.283

Eliot Fette Noyes, designer (American, 1910- 1977), The IBM Corporation, manufacturer; IBM Selectric II Typewriter, 1971; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of Lee and Dorothy Alig, 2011.283

I had to smile as I noticed it in the case, remembering the ones my Dad had in his dental office. It was a big deal, and cost a lot. As Dad recalls, people thought he was crazy spending that kind of money. At the time, there were no effective office copier, no word processors. The Selectric Typewriters had many ingenious features that opened up a whole world of possibilities in a small office and saved lots of time (efficiency!) for his staff of one.

Manual typewriters used fixed keys, which moved up to strike the carbon and paper to make each letter. Some practice and skill was necessary to get the fingers to push the keys hard enough to make a good imprint, and rhythm to hit the keys in a way that didn’t jumble the flying letter arms. The paper carriage moved across the machine and, to start another line, one pulled the lever (advancing the paper one line) and then pushed it to the right to start position. Only one typeface and type size was available with no way to change it. You had either a pica or elite type size, one typeface.

For a good typist, the manual typewriter worked fine for letters and manuscripts, but not so great for forms and other kinds of documents, as needed in a dental practice. For me, the manual typewriter was a significant challenge. I was terrible on the keys – it was tough to get consistent pressure on the letters. I made lots of mistakes, so had to either start over or try the challenge of erasing tape and white out. Despite my efforts to learn to spell, I made lots of spelling mistakes also, with no easy way to quickly correct them.

Photo courtesy of: http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/images/icp/Z491903Y91074L07/us__en_us__ibm100__selectric__selectric_2__900x746.jpg

Photo courtesy of: http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/images/icp/Z491903Y91074L07/ us__en_us__ibm100__selectric__selectric_2__900x746.jpg

The innovative typewriters by IBM were electric, so mastering the key stokes was so much easier. The type was positioned on a “ball” with four rows of 22 letters. The mechanism moved the ball, rotating and raising it to the letter matching your key stroke, then “throwing” the ball against the ribbon and paper. Every letter had the same pressure and looked the same. The ball moved across the paper which remained stationary. At the end of a line, just hit the return key, no worries about not getting paper in the right place, and faster!

The type balls were interchangeable, opening up the flood gates for users’ creativity! Type “balls” are available in pica or elite size, italic, different fonts and also with foreign language alphabets, scientific characters … endless possibilities! Eventually, Dad had six type balls and I remember typing high school math and science reports using the scientific symbols. One had a conversion chart (looking like a keyboard) showing “A” key = which scientific symbol. Sounds tedious today, but a big deal then. One could type a paragraph in italics or increase the type size, such as a heading, very easily in the same page. These type balls were genius!

Another great feature was the erase key. Prior typing errors had to be corrected by manually moving the paper back to position of the error letter, inserting a white erase paper and typing the wrong letter to be covered by the white carbon. The carriage would still advance, so you had to realign the paper again and type the new letter. Or use the liquid white out, wait for it to dry and try to line up the text to retype. Either way, mistakes were pretty glaring. Usually it was best to just start over on a new piece of paper. Blah! With the IBM Selectric, you could just back space to the letter or word that needed to be changed, and press the erase key. Type the wrong letter and it would bring up a white erasing ribbon, remove/cover the error and not advance the ball. Then type the correct letter. Easy!

My third favorite feature was the memory. Depending on the models, the IBM Selectric could save text and reproduce it. The typewriter Dad had in the late ’60s could save whole documents, up to a limited number of characters, about two pages. Type your document, then insert another piece of paper and it would type out an exact copy from memory.

The whole story of the IBM Selectric II is pretty amazing and highlights the impact that good industrial design has on our lives. If you want to learn more, there is a wealth of information available online. Check it out!

 

Creating an Autoportrait: Marty Krause

Marty Krause is the IMA's Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and of The Essential Robert Indiana.

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

To complement The Essential Robert Indiana, on view through May 4, the IMA invites visitors both on-site and online to Create Your Autoportrait using some of the same elements that Robert Indiana incorporates in to his. During the run of the exhibition, IMA staff members will be creating their own Autoportraits and blogging about it.

First up is Marty Krause, the IMA’s Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and of The Essential Robert Indiana.

Since the word “Autoportrait” is Robert Indiana’s invention as are the symbolic self-portraits, which the term describes, I am dedicating my Autoportrait to my extended involvement with the artist leading up to the recent opening of The Essential Robert Indiana, which I curated.

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The 0 stands for 2010. On January 22 of that year, then-director Max Anderson and I met with John Wilmerding of Princeton at the historic Century Club in New York (Max and John are both members) to discuss the possibility of mounting a long-overdue retrospective of Robert Indiana’s screenprints. Over lunch we laid the groundwork for what became The Essential Robert Indiana just over four years later.

BOB is Robert Indiana. Over the past four years we have become quite friendly, and I am “Marty” to him and he is “Bob” to me. Actually, almost everyone calls him “Bob.”

Curator Marty Krause (center) talks with John Wilmerding (left), co-author of The Essential Robert Indiana catalogue, and XXX in The Essential Robert Indiana. Background photo: Christopher Campbell, Robert Indiana at Vinalhaven, 1994. Image courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery.

Curator Marty Krause (center) talks with John Wilmerding (left), co-author of The Essential Robert Indiana catalogue, and a reporter during the media preview for The Essential Robert Indiana.
Background photo: Christopher Campbell, Robert Indiana at Vinalhaven, 1994. Image courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery.

ODDFELLOW refers to the former Odd Fellows Lodge on the island of Vinalhaven 12 miles off the coast of Maine, which intrigued Robert Indiana on his first visit to the island in 1969 and which became his permanent studio and home nine years later. In spite of the name, the fraternal order of Odd Fellows were not eccentric, though their 19th-century Vinalhaven lodge qualifies. Indiana has preserved the building and uses “oddfellow” as part of his email address. (He doesn’t answer emails, if you were wondering.)

FERRY is the Maine State Ferry, the only public transportation to Vinalhaven. Getting there from Indianapolis is a bit of a Planes, Trains and Automobiles type ordeal. You fly to Portland, Maine, (indirectly, of course), drive 80 miles up the coast to Rockland, make an hour-long transit by ferry from there to the island and walk a mile from the dock to Indiana’s studio.

53 equals the number of prints in the exhibition. The IMA supplied about a third; Robert Indiana another third, with the remainder coming from the Morgan Art Foundation, a long-time sponsor of Indiana and his work.

Green, blue and white are the colors Indiana associates with Maine and I can attest that this is the palette of Vinalhaven. The green suggests its covering of fir trees, the blue of its surrounding Penobscot Bay, and the white of the snow, which Indiana reports that Maine, like here, has received more than its fair share this winter. I’ll take him at his word, since my four treks there have been in the pleasantness of summer.

 

 

About Guest Blogger

The IMA is always looking for new definitions of art. So we’ve asked guest bloggers to share their thoughts on the subject.

Guest Blogger has written 106 articles for us.