Student Successes

Stefan Eicher

M.F.A. in Visual Art

What degree are you working toward?

I am working on the M.F.A. in Visual Art with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing.

Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?

I chose to study at IUPUI’s Herron School of Art & Design for two reasons. Having run a small arts organization for several years connecting art to social issues in India, the degree matched the skills I was looking to improve: learning the theory behind our practical activities, maturing my own studio practice, and finding opportunities to grow in my ability to teach. But I also chose Herron specifically because I did my undergraduate degree in Indiana and wanted to deepen my ties to Indianapolis and to a local arts organization here called the Harrison Center for the Arts.

What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?

This is my first year and so far I have found both my classmates and my classes incredibly stimulating.

I have found my learning at Herron to be wonderfully rich, connecting directly to my experiences past and present.

This semester I won a local $10,000 art competition in ‘creative place-making,’ which sees art play a role in community-building in a neighborhood going through a revitalization effort. One of my classes happens to be ‘Public Art & Project Management’ and as I implement the art competition project the Public Art class is giving me these amazing insights into the challenges I am finding.

What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?

I love how Indy is a city with a vision, working on very intentional plans to be a place people would want to move to. It has this feeling of a large cutting-edge city while still maintaining the intimacy and sense of belonging that comes from being small and located in the Mid-west. I love the Indiana ‘farming-community’ culture that still is a part of urban life, with the neighbor across the street regularly giving my wife and I tomatoes and cucumbers from her backyard. And as an artist I love how the city offers a vibrant cultural life and yet is small enough that there are many opportunities to participate and contribute, even as a student.

Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.

In my studio courses I have been working on developing the technical aspects of my painting practice while learning to articulate a theoretical framework and situate it in the context of contemporary art history. Last semester I took a fascinating class on ‘Visual Culture’ plus one on Collaboration which had 8 of us develop an exhibition over the course of the semester. Ours was the ‘Dreams Diner,’ which turned your ‘dream items’ picked from a menu, into a personalized miniature sculpture which you could walk away with. We presented it in one of the Herron galleries and will be exhibiting it elsewhere in town as well. Currently I am taking classes on university teaching and public art.

The fellowships I have been awarded have had me working with the Harrison Center for the Arts each semester, and among other things I have curated a show of 22 Indian artists in one of the Harrison Center galleries, constructed a 15’ x 14’ x 5’ set of giant eye-glasses as an interactive sculpture which currently sit on the lawns outside the Harrison Center, and organized a ‘Holiday Window Display Tour’ that mobilized 24 Harrison Center artists to turn their basement studio windows into miniature store-front displays for the city-wide December ‘First Friday’ gallery walk.

Currently I am working with an artist collaborator on implementing our creative place-making project. The project essentially is a massive art performance designed to unite and inspire a racially and economically divided community by making history together: we’re going to try to break the world record for most sparklers lit simultaneously!