Acts of Faith: Providing Space for Nature to Inspi...
Acts of Faith provides viewers an opportunity to observe what nature can bring, in a small but visually compelling way. By building birdhouses, the community youth who participated in the project both undertook (albeit individually) a communal activity and independently committed their own acts of faith, trusting in a future that will allow birds to continue their life cycle by nesting in the boxes. Their acts are pathways to hope, a reminder that nature always provides something good despite a present moment that may make it difficult to look forward to anything. The artwork was donated to the Mapleton-Fall Creek community after appearing for a year as a temporary installation with Indy Art & Seek, a 2020 project of the Arts Council of Indianapolis and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.
Stefan Petranek (b. 1977) is an image-based artist and Associate Professor of Photography and Intermedia at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art & Design. Working with subjects that range from genetics to climate change, his work explores how contemporary culture, especially through advances in science and technology, affects our perception of nature and how we define it today. Petranek is a 2018 recipient of the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ Christel DeHaan Artist of Distinction Award. His work was recently exhibited in FotoFocus’ Auto//Update exhibition and Creative Advocacy’s Collective Voices exhibition in 2019. Petranek’s Brain Tumor Diaries, Genotyping and Genetic Portrait Project series have also received critical recognition, including a review by Lenscratch, publication in Front Line Genomics Magazine, and Manifest Press’ contemporary fine art photography book INPHA3. He currently resides with his family in Indianapolis.
Each year since 1947, a 3-foot-tall, 1,200-pound bronze cherub mysteriously appears atop the Ayres Clock the day before Thanksgiving and stays there until Christmas Eve.
The sculpture has its roots in drawings created for the 1946 catalog of L. S. Ayres, the city’s premier department store at the time. Advertising artist Virginia Holmes used angel illustrations to fill space in the somewhat sparse, post-war catalog and they became a hit. With its 75th anniversary approaching in 1947, the store commissioned sculptor and Herron School of Art instructor David Rubins to create the bronze sculpture. Employees unceremoniously placed the cherub upon their well-known clock at the corner of Washington and Meridian Streets on the day before Thanksgiving in 1947 and created a sensation that soon became a beloved tradition. Through the years, generations of residents visited downtown during the holidays to enjoy the store’s decorated Christmas windows and take a peek at the angel, especially since it was a tradition for shoppers to “meet under the Ayres’ clock.”
The Cherub has greeted holiday shoppers every year except 1992, the year L.S. Ayres closed permanently. When the department store closed, the cherub was moved to the new department store owner’s warehouse in St. Louis. After an anonymous group called Free the Cherub distributed “Free the Cherub!” bumper stickers, made hundreds of calls and sent letters to local newspapers, the cherub returned in 1993 and has appeared each year since.
Where the cherub lives during the rest of the year remains a mystery, and few know how the cherub appears atop the clock each year. In 2020 the cherub received a “spa day” to clean and repatinate it to its original brownish-bronze color.
Read more about the cherub here.
Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F. Kennedy Mural ...
April 4, 2018 was the 50th anniversary of a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy at a small park on the near Northside of Indianapolis. Kennedy, then a candidate for President in the 1968 election, was in town and was scheduled to speak in the urban park, but immediately before he was to go on he was notified of the hours-old assassination of noted civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Kennedy changed his planned remarks, and announced the assassination to the largely African American crowd; he followed the announcement with inspiring words urging the crowd to practice love, compassion, peace, and forgiveness towards one another. Just over two months later, Kennedy himself would be assassinated. Still later, the park was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
To mark the anniversary, the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative commissioned a plaque and a set of two large banners. The Indiana Historical Society designed and produced the banners, which portray King, Kennedy, and the crowd of local residents who had gathered on that historic day. Also in 2018, just days before the anniversary celebration, the spot where Kennedy made his speech (immediately adjacent to the banners) was designated a National Historic Site.
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