M.F.A. in Visual Art
Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?
Since 2012 I have been living and working as an artist in Indianapolis. Much of my work leverages the benefits of art-making as a way to serve and engage community. I saw this commitment to community reflected in in the mission and vision of IUPUI. Choosing graduate school at IUPUI allowed me to deepen my engagement through the richness of graduate research. For this reason, IUPUI was the obvious choice.
What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?
My favorite accomplishment has been translating my visual art practice into a qualitative research design that looks to use traditional candy-making techniques with diabetic patients and their physicians. This study will facilitate discussion of patients’ social and emotional experiences and look for perceived improvements in understanding. I’ve always been interested in the direct application of visual art in social situations. Before my MFA, I accomplished this through teaching or working in community. Designing this study has allowed me to achieve a more rigorous connection between art and its application in the social world.
What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?
I love all the people I’ve been able to work with over the years. In my experience, people in Indianapolis are genuinely supportive and ready to collaborate. I enjoy opening my studio to visitors on First Fridays at the Circle City Industrial Complex and participating in community-based projects like Indy East Art Peace. The size of Indianapolis makes living and working especially meaningful. It’s large enough to feel like a big city yet small enough to really see the impacts of hard work, collaboration, and innovation.
Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.
In my work as a graduate student I have applied art-making techniques to various community-based projects including: House Life Project, Homeless Voices, the Community Innovation Lab, and Indy East Art Peace. For Homeless Voices I partnered with the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention to provide 7 zine-making workshops with 58 individuals experiencing homelessness. Participants created zines as a way to share their own experience with others through a subsequent art show and community conversation.
With the House Life Project, I created Told/Retold, a site-specific installation in an abandoned home located in St. Clair Place neighborhood. In this work, screws and metal leaf mark existing cracks, nails and holes in the walls. String connects each screw, symbolizing the narratives we create about a place. Told/Retold was designed to activate conversation about the concepts of equity, housing and race by revealing the differences between insider and outsider narratives. At a culminating community conversation, I co-designed and facilitated discussion around the question, what does it means to be a good neighbor? Attendees mapped their individual ideal neighborhoods then worked in small groups to create a sculptural representation of how each vision fit together.
My studio art practice involves working with sugar to create time-based installations that speak to the repetition and uncertainty typical for those living with chronic illness. I am interested in the contrast between repetitive, predictable cycles like testing blood sugar or taking insulin and the infinite unpredictability of the physical experience of illness and medical treatment in the body. From this practice I have designed a qualitative research study to consider how sugar-pulling techniques can be used as a metaphor for living with diabetes. This study will facilitate discussion between patients and their physicians and look for changes in understanding between parties.