Anderson University and Ball State University glass students have joined forces to present an exhibition of original glass works at the Garfield Park Conservatory & Sunken Garden in Indianapolis. The exhibition, Neo Natural: Botanically Inspired Glass Works, kicks off Saturday, January 21, with an opening from 5 to 7 p.m. In partnership with the Neo Natural exhibition, the Indiana Glass Arts Alliance will also be presenting their work next door at the Garfield Park Arts Center.
In creating work for the Conservatory exhibit, AU art+design majors became interested in the irony of talking about nature housed in an artificial green space. They also found themselves wondering “How do we make something about nature with a non-natural material, glass?” [Photo on left: Glass student Kameron Robinson prepares his exhibit pieces.]
For senior Kenton Pratt, the focus became the mysterious absence of animals. His piece in the show is an installation of bird cages … which are empty. “I kept thinking, maybe there should be birds here, but if there were, the would be caged.” Birds also played a role for Stephanie Cochran, whose inspiration for the exhibit came from Bauer Birds, who gather colored trash to make wild, fantastical nests. “These birds are collectors, and what they do is kind of like what artists do,” she shared.
Senior Kameron Robinson, on the other hand, found himself asking, “How can I enhance the space without reproducing it?” He was drawn to the bold, vertical lines of the lady palm trees in the Conservatory and created mirrored, organic shapes which help magnify their fascinating textures and shapes. Because of their mirrored quality, his pieces allow viewers to examine not only the plants but also their own presence in the Conservatory space.
Also included in the exhibition is work by alum Davin Ebanks (BA ‘98), as well as a collaborative piece by AU glass professor, Arlon Bayliss, and students from his Introduction to Glass course.
One of the unique features of the exhibition is its collaborative nature. Bayliss, and Brent Cole, associate glass professor at Ball State, began plans for the project last spring. As next-door neighbors in the world of glass, both schools’ programs have much to gain from the kind of collaboration this exhibition offers. “Working together enables us to do bigger things,” Cochran explains, “this show wouldn’t have happened without the help we were able to give each other.”
Collaborating with a public venue also gave students a taste for the demands of a professional exhibition. Similar to the off-campus experiences of other majors, exhibitions provide art+design students the opportunity to go out into the community and envision where they might fit in the professional world. Robinson said, “Although I gained some exhibition experience during my internship this summer, this was my first public exhibition, and I was glad to go though it together with other undergrads.”
Built in 1914 by German architect George Edward Kessler, Garfield Park Conservatory houses 10,000 square feet of beautiful, historic plants from tropical regions throughout the world. It also hosts changing educational displays and three spectacular seasonal shows each year — no small undertaking. Through Neo Natural, students have been able to bring greater public awareness to the institution. According to Stephanie Cochran, “Part of the calling of artists is to bring awareness to the beauty in our community, and this is one way to do that.”
Date: January 21 – March 18, $3/person, $8 per family
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 21, 2012, from 5-7 p.m. Free Admission
Location: Garfield Park Conservatory & Sunken Garden
2505 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46203
About the Department of Art+Design
The Department of Art+Design at Anderson University offers majors in the areas of glass, fine arts, visual communications design, and art education. Students gain experience through intensive studio practice, professional internships, and by working closely with faculty of professional artists and designers.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America’s top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.