TITLE: Open Eyes ARTIST: Don Gummer DATE: 2011 MATERIALS: Steel, glass DIMENSIONS: 16′ TYPE: sculpture
Open Eyes (2011) is one of two artworks featured on campus by Herron School of Art and Design alumnus, Don Gummer.
The 16-foot-tall sculpture features a series of ocular shapes encased in a frame resembling a double helix that manages to achieve balance in the midst of movement.
Commissioned by the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute for display in the their courtyard, there is an adjustable spotlights on each side of the piece that illuminate the sculpture at night.
Gummer has won awards from the American Academy in Rome, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Tiffany Foundation. His works are generally large in scale, complex, and benefit from sustained experience over time. Together with his wife, the great actor Meryl Streep, Gummer is also an activist philanthropist.
TITLE: Mother’s Helper ARTIST: Derek Chalfant DATE: 1998 MATERIALS: stainless steel, bronze DIMENSIONS: 15′ x 8′ x 3′ TYPE: sculpture
Can you discern all the forms that figure into Indiana-born Derek Chalfant’s provocative Mother’s Helper (1998)? Let’s start from the top: a baby’s high chair extends downward via exaggerated legs to the ground where it transforms into a rocker, straddling what appears to be a recumbent Christian Cross. At the head of the cross, there are two bronze objects: a baby and a cast of the “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.” How might these pieces come together to tell a story, ask a question, or make a statement?
According to Chalfant, “the high chair represents nutrients needed for life, the rocker symbolizes rest and nurturing, the baby with its head on the dictionary represents knowledge, and the cross is a symbol of spirituality—all ingredients needed for human growth.”
Can you imagine other ways of arranging these ingredients? Are there other ingredients for human growth that you might include?
A Herron alumnus who is now associate professor of art at Elmira College in Upstate New York, Chalfant’s research includes designing and making sculpture and furniture specializing in wood and metal fabrication, as well as casting metal and glass.
TITLE: Mega-Gem ARTIST: John Francis Torreano DATE: 1989 MATERIALS: Welded aluminum DIMENSIONS: 7′ x 11′ x 7′ TYPE: sculpture
Mega-Gem (1989) has a long history in Indianapolis. Owned by Newfields, but lent to IUPUI, this oversized gemstone featuring three dozen colored metal rosettes, was part of a series completed by John Francis Torreano that played with the idea of the preciousness of art. How do you feel in its presence?
As with precious stones, there is always the question of the value of art. What does playing with scale and composition, as Torreano has done here, achieve with regards to how we think about precious things?
If gems often appear as pure, sparkling adornments that signal wealth and status, is Mega-Gem a kind of jewelry for the body of the campus? And is it meant to do similar work? Torreano (born 1941) is an American artist from Michigan, a clinical professor of studio art at New York University in Abu Dhabi.
Torreano has observed that all art “exists somewhere between a totally abstract creation and a total reproduction of physical things in the world.” In this regard, he describes his own work as “real fake art.”
TITLE: Luminary ARTIST: Jeff Laramore DATE: 2008 MATERIALS: Onyx DIMENSIONS: 4′ x 41′ x 5′ TYPE: sculpture
The design for Luminary (2008) came out of conversations and focus groups with cancer patients and caregivers. A white sphere composed of thin tiles of onyx inscribed with bands of reddish-brown agate is held, tenderly, by a wave design resembling a pair of hands.
Luminary appears to remind us how important it is to be held, especially during times of illness. In the darkness of night, caregiving reveals itself as a beacon of warmth, as light emanates from within the sphere.
Jeff Laramore of 2nd Globe Studios was lead designer for the sculpture, which was commissioned by Clarion Health Partners.
TITLE: Job ARTIST: Judith Shea DATE: 2005 MATERIALS: Bronze DIMENSIONS: 6’3″ x 3’2″ x 2’6″ TYPE: sculpture
Judith Shea’s Job (2005) depicts the iconic figure alone, ragged, exposed to the elements, looking up to the sky. Who among us has not felt the same way? The power of sculpture to materialize—on a human scale—the stories, fables, beliefs, and traditions that give our lives order and meaning is one of the central promises of the medium. The wax coating of the bronze appear as rain drops, but it also calls to mind the tears Job appears to be too tired to shed.
Born in Philadelphia in 1948, Shea is an American artist who has worked with cloth and clothing forms, hollow cast metal clothing figure forms, and carved full figure statues in a variety of mediums.
TITLE: Jammin’ on the Avenue ARTIST: John Spaulding DATE: 1989 MATERIALS: Brass DIMENSIONS: 9.6′ x 4′ x 4′ TYPE: sculpture
Indianapolis native John Spaulding created Jammin’ on the Avenue(1989) as a tribute to the jazz heritage of Indiana Avenue that flourished from the 1920s to the 1950s. Famous Jazz musicians JJ Johnson, Freddie Hubbard, and Slide Hampton all got their starts in the jazz clubs along Indiana Avenue.
Lockefield Gardens Apartments, located just behind Jammin’ on the Avenue, is a former government housing project and Spaulding’s birthplace. It was home to many African-American families seeking a better life. Sixteen of the original twenty-four units were leveled in the early 1980s to make way for new developments, similar to much of the Indiana Avenue district.
Consider how public art like Jammin’ on the Avenue can be a touchstone for collective memory or even act as a challenge to institutional narratives.
Spaulding was an internationally exhibited artist. You can see more of his work at the intersection of Indiana Avenue and West Street, where Untitled (Jazz Musicians) is located.
How do you encounter Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir’s provocative Horizons (2008)? Does the work invite you to stray off your narrow path or does it quicken your step? Does it turn your head or fix it to the ground? Do you identify with one figure more than another? Or do they repel you? In other words, how do we square with these strange entities?
These life size cast iron figures are designed to age and weather over time, developing a patina that connects them, more and more, to the natural world. In their transformation, they invite us to connect our own aging processes to those of the earth.
But why are these figures, as a group, named Horizons? Look closer and find insets of green glass slipped into each body (except one!), references to the vast horizons that exist outside of Thórarinsdóttir’s Icelandic studio.
“The horizontal glass lines in the figures connect them to each other,” she explains. “But the glass also opens them up to daylight. So, it’s like a window that allows us to look into the inner world, the core.”
A temporary installation, this sculpture lived at IUPUI from 2018 to 2021.
TITLE: Glory ARTIST: Garry Bibbs DATE: 1999 MATERIALS: bronze & steel DIMENSIONS: 30′ x 8′ x 1′ TYPE: sculpture
Glory (1999), by African-American artist Garry R. Bibbs, was commissioned by local philanthropist Joseph F. Miller to adorn his eponymous center dedicated to combatting HIV and AIDS.
Because the site once housed the Second Baptist Church, one of the city’s oldest African-American Baptist churches, Bibbs drew on African-American traditions (including jazz), along with the Bible’s book of Ezekiel, to create a work meant to instill joy and hope.
Bibbs’ writes of his work: “Through my art, I want to share honesty about my human experiences, my African American heritage and my environment, whether it is good, bad or indifferent. Life is so precious, so it is important that my viewers feel enlightened, uplifted and free. They should be made aware that there is an answer, a power and a glory. So live a good life and be gracious in God’s creative beauty, which we are given to use as we call, the ARTS.”
TITLE: Eve ARTIST: Robert William Davidson DATE: 1931 MATERIALS: bronze DIMENSIONS: Sculpture: approx. H. 5 ft. x Diam. 18 in.; Base: approx. 59 x 30 x 30 in.; Basin: approx. Diam. 130 in. TYPE: sculpture
Robert William Davidson’s Eve was commissioned by the Indiana University Alumni Nurses Association in 1931 to commemorate an IU School of Nursing residence.
IU School of Nursing students nicknamed the fountain-based sculpture“Flo” after Florence Nightingale, the great social reformer, statistician, and founder of modern nursing.
Renaming the sculpture reminds us how local communities can claim and reimagine public art. How might calling this figure “Eve” or “Flo” change the way you experience it?
Davidson (1904-1982) was an Indianapolis native who studied sculpture at the Herron Art Institute, before leaving for Chicago, New York, and then Germany. He was a professor of art at Skidmore College in Upstate New York for 38 years.
TITLE: Entangled ARTIST: Brose Partington DATE: 2004 MATERIALS: painted steel DIMENSIONS: 9′ x 7’4” x 8’2” TYPE: sculpture
What might a sculpture made by the son of a clock repairman look like? Indiana-based artist Brose Partingonton’s Entangled (2004) offers a glimpse. Consisting of eight interconnecting pieces that resemble the gears and mechanisms found in his father’s old Indianapolis clock repair shop, Partington’s abstract timepiece gives us time to think about the relationship between mechanics and nature.
“I’m currently building structures as parallels to patterns of natural occurrences,” explains the artist. “My work examines the subtle movements around us, and the patterns those movements create. I am trying to compare the cyclical patterns found in nature with manufactured objects, environments, and modes of transportation.”
In a world where manufacturing jobs are in decline and automation is on the rise, might Entangled be seen as a kind of memorial to the lost art of traditional craftsmanship? What can we do with the remains of time’s past?
TITLE: East Gate/West Gate ARTIST: Sasson Soffer DATE: 1973 MATERIALS: stainless steel DIMENSIONS: 23′ x 30′ x 17′ TYPE: sculpture
Sasson Soffer’s East Gate/West Gate (1973)acts as a fulcrum for one of the main courtyards on the IUPUI Campus, its ceaseless swirling loops amplifying the dynamism of campus life.
Although it may appear at first as one entangled unit, follow the lines from any point on the stainless steel piping to discover a pair of figures locked in a kind of dance, repartee, or conversation.
Gates normally exist to grant or bar entrance to a place, announcing and policing boundaries. East Gate/West Gate is situated well inside the bounds of the university, however, paying no heed to traditional border markings. Instead, East and West are infused. Access points are not singular or static, but multiple and dynamic.
How might this piece help us re-imagine borders in more dynamic ways?
Soffer (1926-2009) was an Iraqi-American abstract painter and sculptor of Jewish heritage who studied under the artist Mark Rothko in New York. (If you are an admirer of the work of Paul Klee or Joan Miró, see if you can spot their influence on this piece.)
On loan from Newfields, the sculpture was delivered, via helicopter, in 2009.
TITLE: DNA Tower ARTIST: Dale Chihuly DATE: 2003 MATERIALS: glass, steel, wood DIMENSIONS: 20′ 3″ x 4′ 8″ TYPE: sculpture
DNA Tower (2003) consists of 1,200 blue, yellow, and pink spheres attached to a central core in a spiraling design that imitates the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The tower comes in at 20 feet tall; for comparison, if you stretched out the DNA in just one human cell, it would amount to around six feet of DNA!
Internationally-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly created DNA Tower to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the IU School of Medicine, which also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA, the self-replicating material that carriers genetic information.
A spectacular testament to the bonds between structure and suprise, unity and diversity, this jubilant tower locates hope in reproductive processes where selves produce others and similarity breeds diversity.
Chihuly’s iconic work can also be found at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, as well as Newfields.
TITLE: Barrow ARTIST: Jill Viney DATE: 2008 MATERIALS: fiberglass, metal mesh DIMENSIONS: 8′ x 8′ TYPE: sculpture
New York-based artist Jill Viney was inspired by visits to European caves and burial mounds when she composed Barrow (2007), an 8’ by 8’ ridged dome made from a double wall of fiberglass encasing a sheet of metal meshing.
Barrows are prehistorical burial sites, shallow pit structures where the remains of the dead are filled over with stone or earth. Viney’s Barrow invites you to enter the sculpture through one of two entrances. “The dark inside with the silver exterior creates a luminous covering as the viewer enters the mound, explained Viney. “Overhead, as in a night sky, three rings of color hover above,” a pattern that evokes the ancient mysteries of prehistoric cave paintings.
How does the domed structure reveal tensions between the world inside and the world outside? How does it negotiate tensions between what hovers above and what lies below?
What does it mean to inhabit a barrow only temporarily? What kind of rest does it afford?
TITLE: Antenna Man ARTIST: Eric Nordgulen DATE: 1998 MATERIALS: Aluminum DIMENSIONS: 11′ x 13′ TYPE: sculpture
Eric Nordgulen, Professor at the Herron School of Art and Design, created Antenna Man (1998) as part of an antenna-inspired series.
The piece is composed of twenty-one curved horizontal bars stacked on a pair of vertical supports rendering a figure that appears part human, part machine, inviting us to wonder where the one ends and the other begins.
If “the perception of sculpture is a physical experience that can become a catalyst for new thoughts and ideas,” as Nordgulen suggests, then what does Antenna Man offer us?
Antennas are machines designed to transmit and receive. As beings increasingly accompanied and augmented by technology, what are we now capable and incapable of transmitting and receiving? What effect might these capacities and incapacities have on our futures as a species?
Nordgulen’s work can be found throughout the country. In Indianapolis, you can see Viewfinders on Massachusetts Avenue and another Antenna Man in Crown Hill Cemetery.