Harrison Center for the Arts: Our 48 Hour Residency

On Thursday, November 3, Caleb Smith and I drove to The Harrison Center for the Arts in Indianapolis, Indiana for their 48-Hour Residency. Our job? To explore Indianapolis and make art in, well, 48 hours.

Arriving at 9:30 p.m., our weekend began with a walk in the cool evening air to the Harrison Center with executive director Joanna Taft. Mrs. Taft showed 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. After viewing the studio space that we would soon be working in, we prepared to brainstorm.

Bright and early Friday morning, we met local artist and Covenant alumna Alicia Zanoni at Milk Tooth for a taste of Indianapolis. She told us about her time 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 10:30 a.m. to explore its many studio spaces and galleries and spend time talking with several of the the wonderful artists and staff there.

In the afternoon we resumed exploring, visiting Monument Circle and Market Street. At 6:00 p.m., we attended First Friday, an art tour which featured 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, allowing us to watch people’s faces light up with excitement at their newly purchased piece. It was an incredibly unique display of community.

9:30 p.m. rolled around, and Caleb and I set out to make some art. The theme for the show that we created for was “Emerald City.” Themes could include but were not limited to the color green, relation to the city, and even to the Wizard of Oz. During the day we had 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 Harrison Center for the Arts), and Caleb began arranging them in Photoshop and 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 resume work in the morning.

At 6:00 a.m. 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. Ivy is traditionally found on walls, but now the walls of Indianapolis were on 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 enjoyed another taste of Indy by grabbing some delicious sandwiches and coffee from The Foundry with artists and Covenant alumni Grant (‘14) and Beth Ann (‘15) Thomas. After lunch we began assembling the leaves to create a hanging piece that was characterized by 19 strands of hanging ivy. We were working on hanging the piece when artist Chad Campbell wandered into the gallery and shared some of his expertise on wire. By 8:30 p.m. our piece was installed, and by 9:00 p.m. 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. Our choice of material was decided beforehand, which allowed us to work quickly and concisely in such a short time frame. There is something really special about artwork that takes place is such a short amount of time, and it is even more special if it pertains to a place such as the Harrison Center.

The Harrison Center for the Arts is unique because it focuses on telling the community’s story, and we were honored to spend time with such a thriving community of artists. Our work was both specific to Indianapolis and significant to us in a personal way. Caleb and I will not quickly forget this opportunity, and we look forward to visiting again.

Covenant Art majors Abi Ogle and Caleb Smith at the Harrison Center for the Arts. (Photo by Caleb Smith.)

Covenant Art majors Abi Ogle and Caleb Smith at the Harrison Center for the Arts. (Photo by Caleb Smith.)