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Lesson from the cotton fields

Guest blogger Felipe Martinez is Associate Executive Presbyter, Whitewater Valley Presbytery, and moderator of the 2013 Spirit & Place judges panel.

On November 1, the Spirit and Place Festival will kick off its 2013 theme Risk with a gutsy event, $20K: A Competition about Race. Creators of four finalist projects will present their vision to an audience and a panel of judges, hoping to receive the $20,000 award to implement their innovative ideas inviting a fresh conversation about race in Indianapolis. The winner of this competition will help Indianapolis and central Indiana residents look back on our own histories, and challenge us to a shared commitment to reshape our communities in positive ways.

At some point in an honest, open dialogue about race in the United States, family stories surface. The stories might date back decades, or refer to events last week; the stories might be of facing and overcoming oppression, or of the perks and pitfalls of being a part of a racial majority. And then there are the stories which document the moments when we learn or unlearn how race contributes to the shaping of community.

Prof. Luis R. Martinez and students, circa 1945.

Prof. Luis R. Martinez and students, circa 1945.

When I reflect on my earliest notions of race, I think about my dad, who was a public school teacher in Mexico for over 60 years. Dad always had a second job to help supplement his meager salary. One summer in the 1940s, he even traveled to southern Texas to work as a field hand picking cotton. There, for the first time, he labored side by side with African American workers. He spoke to me with compassion of their physical strength to do the work and their spiritual depth to survive in a blatantly racist society. Though his contact with them ended when he returned to Mexico, the impact of those relationships endured. Dad taught me to pray for those who suffer from injustice and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them.

If we risk together, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to remember and re-imagine, to dream and dare, our actions will have a lasting impact in our richly diverse community.

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Indiana, Local, Public Programs


Use a Post-It for Something Other than a To-Do List

Today's guest blogger is Lori Hodgen, Public Affairs intern and Butler University student.

A Post-It seems rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things—its only purpose to remind you of things you have yet to do (and often don’t want to do). But when it says something interesting, and you have the ability to post it ANYWHERE, a Post-It suddenly becomes a powerful little tool, like a primitive Tweet.

For the next several weeks, the IMA will be placing Post-Its all over the city. The Post-Its ask a simple (sort of) question: Who is Ai Weiwei? And if you don’t know, you should.

Image courtesy Lindsey Lord

Image courtesy Lindsey Lord

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Filed under: Contemporary, Local, Marketing


An Artist’s Decision to Frame

A continuation of last week’s discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of face-mounting for photography conservation. Part One can be found here.

Indianapolis artist Linda Adele Goodine is represented by two photographs in the IMA collection. The first, Helios, The Golden Boy was created in 1990 and accessioned by the IMA in 1998. It is a silver dye bleach (Cibachrome) print on resin coated paper, and it is conventionally framed behind Plexiglas glazing that is held away from the photograph with spacers. The second photograph, Bella Hawk, was created in 2005. It is described as a “Polyflex” print (a silver dye bleach process print on a resin-coated paper) and it is face-mounted to an acrylic sheet and inserted into a frame. It was brought into the collection in 2010.

 Conventionally framed silver dye bleach print “Helios, The Golden Boy”,  1990.

Conventionally framed silver dye bleach print “Helios, The Golden Boy”, 1990.

I sat down with Ms. Goodine at the IMA to discuss face-mounting and how this procedure has featured in her thinking regarding both her own photography and her work with photo majors at the Herron School of Art (Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis campus) where she is a Professor of Photography in the Fine Art program. We first spoke of the Cibachrome print, Helios – The Golden Boy, created in 1990, well before face-mounting became commonplace for art photography. She said that the Cibachrome prints of the time already possessed many of the qualities that are listed as virtues for face-mounted aesthetics   prominent among them is the glossy, saturated color that allows a heightened apprehension of three-dimensionality in the image. These characteristics perfectly suited her artistic vision at this time, and works such as Helios went on to private and institutional collections, housed in conventional frames fronted with glass or Plexiglas glazing. However, artists such as Ms. Goodine were very aware of the problems associated with framing oversized photographs in this way: the handling required to secure the photograph within the frame would impart small, dent-like creases around the perimeter, and oily fingerprints were unwittingly deposited to the detriment of the surface sheen. Once framed, the heavy photographs could yawn forward, touching the glazing in spite of the frame spacers, often encouraged by powerful static forces. Photographs larger than 30” x 40” would also naturally ripple and curl at the edges, and multiple hinges would be placed around all four edges in an imperfect attempt to keep them in plane.

 Face-mounted Chromogenic Print “Bella Hawk”, 2005.

Face-mounted Chromogenic Print “Bella Hawk”, 2005.

Bella Hawk is a work from Ms. Goodine’s 2005 Gibson Lemon Series. All of these photographs are face-mounted, and she has face-mounted three more photographic series since. When asked why, she articulated four reasons: convenience, flattening, hiding surface flaws and damage, and desired aesthetic qualities. Once face-mounted, over-sized photographs were suddenly very easy to handle, and the ruinous creases and fingerprints were no longer a danger. The artwork was rendered unequivocally flat  permanently. Small scratches or cracks in the surface of the photograph were rendered invisible by the filling-in power of the adhesive. And in the case of Bella Hawk, Ms. Goodine was working with the face-mounted quality of imparting a certain luxuriance to the photographic surface; she said it “accentuated the light in the image, and gave an enhanced glow” that suited her subject matter.

Ms. Goodine is now moving away from large scale photography, and with this decision she expects to abandon face-mounting, as well. She believes that it is not really necessary to protect smaller photographs with adhesive-adhered glazing, as handling and caring for them is exponentially easier than with the larger works. She feels that the artist’s choice of photographic papers and printing processes can provide a wide variety of image aesthetics that can be utilized in the service of artistic vision; she personally prefers the image rendering characteristics of the Polyflex paper that she likens visually to the older Cibachrome (then Ilfochrome) papers. She also said that face-mounting is not a practical choice for her students at this stage of their artistic careers because of the expense involved, so the subject is not discussed at length in her classroom. But Ms. Goodine would like to strongly caution anyone interested in face-mounting their work to be knowledgeable about the components of the face-mounting package and insist on using the highest grades of plastic sheeting and rigid back supports available. As it is a permanent mounting system, long term stability is a paramount concern, and artists should continually investigate the products that can ultimately preserve – or possibly destroy – their legacy.

Filed under: Conservation, Local



What does it mean to be passionate about culture in your city? How do you meet innovators working in different types of institutions when every day is focused on your own particular sliver (in my case, art and mobile tech) of the cultural pie? After seeing multiple posts from colleagues around the world about local meetups under the hashtag #drinkingaboutmuseums, I was intrigued and interested in making something similar happen in Indianapolis.

Time for a little research! I spoke to some of the founders of #drinkingaboutmuseums to see how their local “chapters” worked. Ed Rodley, of the Museum of Science, Boston, and author of the blog Thinking about Museums told me that in Boston, DAM:BOS meets monthly at a host museum for a presentation, and then moves to a bar for social time. Koven Smith of Denver Art Museum shared that the Colorado group meets irregularly, bar only, and uses to keep the group to museum professionals only.

Then I contacted the most social Indy museum person I know for a little backup, my IMA colleague Richard McCoy. Richard said that he had been having a similar conversation about building cultural community with Malina Jeffers of the Madame Walker Theatre Center. We met to discuss some ideas about hosting this kind of event in Indy: what were we trying to do? We know the museum and technology communities are small, but the greater arts and culture community is thriving. People are very passionate about culture in our city. We decided to expand the group from just museums to cultural organizations of all kinds and Indy’s #drinkingaboutculture was born. We also decided to meet only four or so times a year, keep it casual (read: at a bar), and with a short presentation about a local project to kick off conversation.

So, we hope you will join us tomorrow for a drink and to discuss cultural innovation in Indy!

Inaugural #drinkingaboutculture INDY

Tuesday, September 11, 5:30pm at Bourbon Street Distillery

Topic: Mali Jeffers of the Madame Walker Theatre Center will briefly introduce a collaboration with WFYI on a self-guided tour of the Theatre, led virtually by Mr. Ridley, a longtime docent. The fifteen minute presentation will be followed by a conversation/Q&A about the project.


Filed under: IMA Staff, Local, Museum Community, Technology


We Are City: Exiting the Teenage Years

Our guest blogger today is Michael Kaufmann, Director of Special Projects and Civic Investment for Health & Hospital Corporation, and President for the IMA Contemporary Arts Society.

Over a year ago, a few people gathered to organize a screening of Gary Hutswit’s documentary Urbanized. This conversation blossomed into a vision for an accompanying half-day conference and bazaar. Members of LISC, the IMA, Butler Center for Urban Ecology, Health & Hospital Corporation, and URBN DSGN began charting out an event that would examine the unique issues, both challenges and opportunities, that face cities and, in particular, Indianapolis.

The idea was to engage with urban leaders and change-makers in a half-day summit focused on the design of Indianapolis and issues around urbanism: transit, civility, diversity, redevelopment, livability, and resilience. The summit was segmented into three themes: LOOK, MOVE, and GROW. Topics ranged from the psychology of neighborhoods, the audacious ambition of Dubai, Burning Man as a city building model, repurposing gray fields and over-asphalted shopping districts into eco-districts, transit, and cultural entrepreneurship. Additionally attendees participated in a brainstorming session (facilitated by Big Car and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful) and an Urbanized Bazaar, at which various organizations presented the latest, greatest urban design initiatives that are shaping Indianapolis now and in the future. You can view the agenda and list of speakers here.

We came to recognize that this conversation should stay alive. We needed to continue to convene people and become advocates for the opportunities urban areas provide, while acknowledging some of its barriers, complications and serious problems. Out of this passion came the vision for We Are City, a multi-program initiative that would include the rebranded summit, a film and conversation series, and an e-newsletter, loaded with nuggets of inspiration and challenge on the subject of cities.

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Filed under: Local, Public Programs


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