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The Public Collection is a public art and literacy project developed to improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts (and artists), and promote social and educational justice in the community.
Through a curated process, several Indiana-based artists were commissioned to design unique book share stations or lending libraries that are installed in public spaces around Indianapolis. Each book share station holds a varied selection of books for diverse audiences and age groups. The Public Collection stations are free and available to everyone. Passersby can borrow and return books at their leisure. Books are supplied and stocked by the Indianapolis Public Library.
Conveyance is intended to translate the transformative properties of reading into an immersive inhabitable environment. A person engaged with a book can transport themselves from one reality to another. Reading can provide new understandings, make connections between people and places, and provide an escape from one’s surroundings. A simple rectangular volume hides a world of information within that can transform a person’s experience. Similarly, inside of Conveyance’s simple, singular shell exists a vivid three-dimensional interior that represents the complexity and depth of human experiences and emotions through reading.
As the project is sited directly adjacent to The Alexander, it was important that it have a presence that compliments the collection of art that exists inside the hotel. All of the work is graphically interesting and visually impactful, framed and balanced by less complex architectural forms. This proposal takes a similar approach, where geometric shapes of a wide color range contrast a simple white volume. The interior form is created through Delaunay triangulation, where each pyramidal shape extrudes more as is gets higher in the space. At the lower portion they flatten out entirely to interfere less with users, while at the highest they become truncated and sunlight is allowed to penetrate the volume. The color transitions from magenta to cyan to yellow as it wraps the interior and onto the book storage, allowing the project to be experienced in various ways, from multiple vantage points. Integrated low voltage lighting will be embedded in the deck and on the storage units to up-light the interior at night, activating the project throughout the evening.
While it is seen and easily accessible by users from South Street, the project’s placement on the site also acts as a visual backdrop for potential events in the lawn of The Alexander. The scale of the project allows for multiple people to occupy the space, and the placement of the book storage units provides access from both sides of the project. Integrated seating elements will provide a temporary place to rest while perusing the books available. The project will attract users and provide an actual space to inhabit, instead of simply being an object in the environment.
Cool Books, Food For Thought.
Like a children’s book illustration, imagine the magic visitors will experience when they approach a stunningly crafted, wood refrigerator in the corridor off of the lobby of the museum. When they open the door, the light goes on illuminating the possibilities of books they can read.
A refrigerator may be the most often used item in people’s homes. It’s welcoming and draws one to it. It spontaneously inspires use, encourages togetherness and leads to good health.
It’s accessible art with an ulterior motive, feed your mind and heart, read a book.
Evolution of Reading
Evolution of Reading is a modern cave-like form that creates a unique educational experience about the history of reading and writing. Anyone that chooses to enter and explore the interior library will be surprised to find a timeline on the wall referencing the cave paintings, which are the first known form of written symbols. The concept is to convey the development in reading and writing in our history as a progression, which has resulted in the current goal to make books and information accessible to everyone. White River State Park is an advantageous setting for Evolution of Reading because the aesthetic qualities of the sculpture accentuate the surrounding cityscape and it fits in with the adventurous environment of the park. The structure is designed to be inviting for all people to have easy access to the informative timeline and the books inside.
The intent of using a cave-like sculpture as a modern lending library is to reference the origin of communicating in written form. The first known written communication was via symbols by the cave painters of the Neolithic Age. The undulating curves and lines of Evolution of Reading metaphorically reference the steps and stages that have occurred in drafted communication. Language is universal, but communicating through documentation was an invention. Aristotle said (On Interpretation), “Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience, and written words are the symbols of spoken words.” This project references history and development by marrying old and new through construction techniques, materials, and concept.
Part of The Public Collection, Fissure is a combination sculpture and book-sharing station. The installation is composed of a series of horizontal bands, which pay homage to the horizontal limestone banding found on the nearby Athenaeum building, which was originally designed by Vonnegut and Bohn in 1893 to provide social support to Indianapolis’ German immigrant community. However, there is also a cage-like element to the work, which in some ways reflects the traumatic experience of many immigrants today. Even in the last century, the deeply-entrenched German community experienced such popular hatred after the first World War that the building’s original name, Das Deutsche Haus, had to be changed. But the artists also provide an unencumbered opening into the project, where one finds books surrounded by colorful acrylic panels backlit by programmed lights. The opening is a metaphor for access to knowledge that all immigrants may find; the concept is also highlighted by an included quote from that illuminate a quote by the American artist Aberjhani: “There is no envy, jealousy, or hatred between the different colors of the rainbow. And no fear either. Because each one exists to make the others’ love more beautiful.”
The artists, Quincy Owens and Luke Crawley working as Owens + Crawley, are Indianapolis and Carmel residents respectively. They maintain a studio in The Harrison Center and create publicly-scaled projects together as well as varied bodies of work individually.
City Market has long been a location of farmers’ markets and food vendors. The sculpture is inspired by agricultural equipment that uses Earth’s natural resources to produce food. The sculpture is designed to look and act like agricultural equipment by digging the books out of the Earth and cycling them towards the viewer. The piece represents the industrialization of agriculture and relates it to the industrialization of publishing, specifically the linotype machine, which was created within two years of the finished construction of City Market. Machinery is used to feed the mass population with food as well as information and knowledge. The sculpture represents the viewer’s ability to pick information much like food and, as such, harvest knowledge.
As part of The Public Collection, artist Atsu Kpotufe constructed a combination public art installation/lending library at Dr Martin Luther King Jr Park on the theme of “journeys,” whether physical or in one’s mind. They were constructed using foam, fiberglass and plexiglass and are functioning book stations, from which anyone can take a book for themselves or donate a book of their own. The books are maintained by the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library.
According to the artist, the form of the sculpture is that of of two boat sails jutting out of the ground, angled as if taking off from underground. A container for donated books is nestled in the large sail while the smaller sail has a bench for sitting. Both the design and title reflect how books can transport readers across the globe or into the depths of their own imagination. It also reflects our country’s immigrant history and how most Americans’ ancestors came to this land by boat, whether by choice or not. Kpotufe also stated, “Besides taking us on journeys, books have also inspired some of the biggest discoveries in human history; including the discovery of the land we call home.”
Originally from West Africa, Atsu Kpotufe is an independent designer, painter and furniture maker based in Indianapolis.
Monument, 2015, made formal reference to civic monument archetypes, with the twist of being modernized by color, material, and separation from a building. The lending library supports a 1894 Mark Twain quote that it was written during the same time period as the construction of the Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Monument. The quote suggests that books and libraries offer a more durable monument to society and culture than does the stone edifice, and this implication strongly correlates to the free exchange of literature and ideas made possible by the Public Collection project.
The artwork, by Indianapolis-based artist Brian McCutcheon, was on view from 2015 to 2019.
The body of this piece is loosely derived from the image of a boat on water, and is designed to remind the viewer that books (and education in general) can be a form of transportation. Books can take us to other places and times, offer solace and distraction, arm us with the tools and information we need to solve problems in our daily lives, and make us more empathetic creatures. In the same way that Eskenazi Health’s rooftop vegetable garden (called “Sky Farm”) highlights healthy eating and wellness concepts while providing patients and employees an opportunity to enjoy nature, this design promotes the mental wellness and growth that comes with reading while giving users an opportunity to directly interact with a piece of art.
So much consideration went into the sustainable engineering of the new Eskenazi Health building that it felt perfectly appropriate to consider environmental impact in the materials for this piece. All of the lumber used will be locally sourced, salvaged material—most coming directly from Indianapolis buildings, some of it even coming from the crates that Eskenazi Health used to move and temporarily house the historic art collection from the old hospital—a nice tie back into the community, and a connection between the newest piece of art in the hospital and the rest of the collection.
Play Station is a mobile library for children. Play Station is constructed of 3 icons of childhood play—a Radio Flyer Red Wagon, Legos, and a Chalkboard. Constructed from bright primary colors,Play Station is inviting and playful and can easily take a child’s mind off their circumstances for a short while. Approximately 36 ” x 17 ” x 48?, the entire library is constructed on an actual Radio Flyer Wagon as its base. The portion of the bookcase holding the books is covered in Legos and allows children to use the actual bookcase as a plate to build directly onto the actual bookcase as they play. The backside of the library is a chalkboard and serves as a drawing and writing surface for the children. The bottom of the library contains 3 baskets, which hold extra Legos to use on the actual bookcase, as well as chalk and other art supplies. The top two shelves of the library contain the actual books.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents provides our most vulnerable neighbors with comfortable and inviting pavilions for reading and listening to audio books. The project has been conceived and designed in direct collaboration with the “neighbors” of Horizon House who are experiencing homelessness. The structures will be fabricated off site but will be assembled and finished on site with the help of the Horizon House community, providing temporary employment to a group of neighbors.
The name Table of Contents reflects the project’s guiding conceptual framework: to provide ample space (a table) to hold books and audio CDs (contents) in a way that invites users to discover and interact with an expansive collection of materials. Similar to the manner in which a book’s table of contents presents an organizing guide to the contents within, our design aims to provide users a number of welcoming but unexpected points of entry into the pavilion and the materials therein.
The form of each pavilion derives from a large volume from which a room was carved out. The surfaces were then shaped to create small, intimate spaces for reading, writing, and listening. The result is a small refuge nested within an otherwise large and open Horizon House room. This large piece of furniture warmed by natural materials and daylight becomes an inviting place to read. Individuals experiencing homelessness and spending time at Horizon House might need space for both themselves and for socializing and connecting with other people. The resulting geometry balances individual, private space with opportunities for socializing and small group dynamics. A mashup of table, bookshelf, reading desk, and seating bench, Table of Contentsinhabits a scale somewhere between furniture and architecture.
The answer is in the question.
Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center serves approximately 250 people a day in inner-city southwest Indianapolis. The Center commits to help, serve, and connect neighbors to additional resources. The Center supports learning, work, and community opportunities to help those who want to improve their situation today and take steps toward a better tomorrow.
This design, in the shape of a life-size question mark, becomes a mascot to the idea that knowledge is available at our fingertips as we ask the questions and look for the answers. The answer is in the question. It has a strong conceptual relationship to the type of work that is accomplished daily by the Mary Rigg Center. The question mark as a book share station also comments on a topic of social significance with the idea of libraries as symbols of social justice.
“Social justice includes ‘support for human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources.’ There are numerous ways in which libraries support human rights, beginning with the human right to access information. Libraries are also a community resource, an intellectual infrastructure that is made available to all members of the community.”
“Topiary” was created by local artist Eric Nordgulen for The Public Collection in 2015. The design of this sculpture is meant to draw attention to books, the importance of literacy and outreach, and the book sharing system. The sculpture is a series of linear vine forms that suggest growth and development, a kind of topiary composition that would wrap around an existing planted garden space on the trail. Thus, these sculpture forms emerge from the garden space and suggest that reading is another form of growth.
Heaving earned his B.F.A. from East Carolina University and M.F.A. from Indiana University, Professor Nordgulen was appointed to the sculpture faculty of Herron School of Art + Design in 1993, and was named the Fine Arts Department chair in 2005. Before joining Herron, he was a professor and lecturer at Washington University, St. Louis. Nordgulen’s work is well represented nationally and in the Midwest in such exhibitions as the Pierwalk at Navy Pier, Chicago, Site Works at Piedmont Park, Atlanta, and public sculpture installations in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. Nordgulen is also an Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellow.
The Public Collection is a public art and literacy project developed by Rachel M. Simon to improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts (and artists), and promote social and educational justice in our community. Through a curated process, Indiana-based artists were commissioned to design unique book share stations or lending libraries that are installed in public spaces around Indianapolis. Each book share station holds a varied selection of books for diverse audiences and age groups. The Public Collection stations are free and available to everyone. Passersby can borrow and return books at their leisure. Books are supplied and stocked by the Indianapolis Public Library.
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