IU East’s new outdoor exhibit puts sculptures in new light
The Indiana University East campus lends itself well to outdoor sculptures.
That’s because open spaces allow the works to be big, to make big statements, whether seeing them up close or from afar.
The rolling hills and plentiful trees accent the pieces with changing colors around the four seasons.
Students, visitors and university employees have a new group of works to see over the next two years as they walk around campus, juried works that were carefully selected for the 2022 Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.
The pieces present different angles as they are discovered and rediscovered while traveling to and from buildings, said Carrie Longley, associate professor of fine arts and director of the Art Gallery. “I hope our campus visitors will appreciate the variety of expressions and accents of color, texture, and form balanced within the beautiful natural setting of our campus.”
Longley, Ann Kim and Nathan Kuznia were jurors for the show, which drew more than 100 entries from artists across the United States. Kim is associate professor of fine arts and Kuznia is studio and gallery coordinator at IU East.
Eight new pieces were anchored onto pads before the fall semester.
Artist Brian Ferriby, who created two of them, is thrilled to have the opportunity again to display his works within an educational setting. Many of his pieces are showing in Indiana, including a permanent one “in front of an international academy in downtown Indy.”
He has been creating and showing his pieces for two decades.
“I like to inspire (students),” he said. “I particularly like it when they are at colleges and institutions.”
One reason is that students – from grade school to college – will often do projects centered on the pieces. “That’s interesting and rewarding,” said Ferriby, who lives near Traverse City, Michigan.
His pieces titled “Helicopter Seeds” and “Trio” were anchored outside Whitewater Hall with the help of university employees in mid-August.
He transported them down and will come back a few times during the exhibitions to see them in different seasonal settings. Rain, snow, wind and sun will affect the surfaces, so they will be refreshed and then be available for future shows or sold. Most of the works are valued at tens of thousands of dollars.
“Bringing large pieces outside makes artwork more accessible,” said Longley, who has been at IU East for 11 years.
“Having (them) among native grasses, plants and trees with a backdrop of sky gives a different relationship, a different dynamic.”
Ferriby remembers being fascinated as a child by the seeds floating off maple trees. “The air would be full of them,” he said. “I took that basic form and tried to capture the movement of them as they are blown through the air (and fall to the ground).”
The 9-foot-tall and 3-by-3 wide “Helicopter Seeds” features mild steel with a copper finish.
His other piece – 9 by 6 by 6 feet – is painted steel.
Ferriby said it is based on triangular forms and inspired by his love of music (he is a drummer in a three-piece music ensemble).
“It’s repetition of the idea of three. It’s like three musicians interacting with each other, combining to make one artistic inspiration. I see it as a parallel to music,” Ferriby said.
Each artist is given a stipend of $2,500 per piece. A good portion of the money comes from the David Fulton Fund, which is dedicated to arts on campus.
With materials, constructions, storage and travel expenses, showpieces might break even – but they often are displayed multiple times over the years and also are available for sale.
“Part of the honorarium goes to restore the exhibit,” Longley said. “Weather does take a toll on (them).”
She said besides being unique and educational, the sculptures have “to be ready to install with tabs on the bottom so they can be drilled onto concrete.”
The 2019 exhibition was extended a year because of COVID-19.
Longley said some pieces make great opportunities for selfies because in “certain spots, students can get right up to them.” “Some can be seen from afar. One is on a hill, so it’s elevated.”
The success of IU East’s recent exhibitions has drawn notice, Longley said, resulting in IU Kokomo adding a similar show.
The pieces were solicited through CallforEntry.org. That’s where Ferriby found out about the IU East show. “I do probably a dozen shows a year through CallforEntry,” he said.
Longley said the trio of judges had to base their outdoor sculpture selections “on small digital images, when they are monumental. We have to pay special attention to the listed dimensions.”