professional artists to create large-scale artworks that disrupt the school environment
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Four Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) – James Russell Lowell School 51: A Montessori School, George Julian School #57, James Whitcomb Riley School #43, and Frederick Douglass School #19 – will each get a large-scale artwork that provokes wondering and guides toward “third space” thinking. Arts for Learning Indiana, a non-profit known for innovation in education, selected a professional artist to work in partnership with each school. Throughout this semester, each artist will complete a third space project, a custom, large-scale installation that will transform a common space at the school. The goal is to disrupt the school environment and challenge students to think in new ways and to experience surprise, wonderment, and curiosity. Artists will also create a Fresh stART project, a youth-led, permanent artwork to stabilize and transform an underused area within or around the school.
These projects will affect thousands of IPS grade schoolers and is being funded through the federal Emergency and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. IPS has earmarked part of the funding it received to invest in programs that address learning loss created from the pandemic.
Artists and Their Schools
The artists for each IPS school were selected through a competitive process. Artists submitted project proposals unique to a school’s culture, mission, and community.
Gina Lee Robbins, IPS James Russell Lowell School 51: A Montessori School
Gina Lee Robbins is a visual and teaching artist based in Indianapolis. She’s been working in clay for 30 years and stitching for 45 years. As someone who has exhibited worldwide, Gina uses artifacts she’s found along waterways, wooded paths, city alleys, and thrift shops. Her degrees are in English and French literature. More information on her exhibitions, awards and events can be found at https://www.GinaLeeRobbins.com/.
IPS James Russell Lowell School 51 transitioned to a Montessori school this academic year. The school cultivates a love for learning, an international perspective, and a respect for individual differences and learning styles. Lee Robbins’ process of art making is material-driven and relies on experimentation. For some students, communicating with words can be difficult. As a teaching artist, Lee Robbins nurtures their ability to express themselves, using tools or media that best expresses their thoughts, emotions and visions.
Rebecca Robinson, IPS George Julian School #57
Award-winning mixed media artist Rebecca Robinson creates impactful artwork, specifically with concrete and tar. Her strategic use of texture and contrast creates subjects and themes that evoke emotion and spark dialogue while enriching the community and contributing to the culture. An Indianapolis native, Robinson studied Art/Visual Communications at the Historically Black College, North Carolina Central University. In 2018, she co-produced the award-winning documentary, “The Color of Medicine: The Story Of Homer G. Phillips Hospital” as a tribute to her father and grandfather’s legacy in the medical field. To learn more about this teaching artist, visit ArtistRebeccaRobinson.com.
IPS George Julian School #57 will be transitioning to a Center for Inquiry school beginning in the fall of 2024. Robinson plans to create a sensory space for students to explore the world of visual art through texture, mixed media, and self-expression. By participating in this project, students learn tools and methods for reducing stress and anxiety, building self-awareness and self-expression, and developing personal growth and positive interaction with others.
Ash Robinson, IPS James Whitcomb Riley School #43
Ash Robinson is an African American artist and designer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Receiving a BFA in Furniture Design at Herron School of Art & Design, she now is Professor of Furniture & Industrial Design at Purdue University. Robinson considers her multi-media approach as a representation of the eclectic black society. For more about her and her work, visit https://www.instagram.com/ashkrobinson/
IPS James Whitcomb Riley School #43 has upcoming facility upgrades that will enhance academic programming and provide state-of-the-art spaces for creativity and exploration. Robinson will be creating an immersive installation and hands-on experiences to captivate students’ attention and provide an invaluable platform for learning.
Dawn Holder, IPS Frederick Douglass School #19
Dawn Holder uses ceramics, sculpture, and installation to investigate the myriad human forces that shape our shared landscape. Tactile and visual representations of abstract ideas can make historical, cultural, and environmental issues engaging and approachable. Holder currently is an Associate Professor of Studio Art at Indiana University Indianapolis’ Herron School of Art + Design. More information about her can be found at https://dawnholder.com/home.html.
Holder plans to work with IPS Frederick Douglass School #19 students to create artwork that incorporates place-based research about Indianapolis and its ecology for a new way to see and understand the city that it shares.
Artists have met with school arts teachers and administrative leaders to design ideas upon which students will vote. Work with the students begins next month (February) with installation and a public open house set for April or May.
About Arts for Learning Indiana
Since 1961, Young Audiences, doing business as Arts for Learning Indiana, has been the premier provider of innovative arts education programs for youth across Indiana. Our programs empower youth and expand their learning through creative arts experiences. Arts for Learning employs more than 50 teaching artists who provide performances, workshops, and residencies to schools, libraries, and community organizations. We reach 40,000 youth every year. We also provide professional development to help classroom teachers and teaching artists effectively work together to integrate the arts into any educational environment. Arts for Learning is one of more than 30 affiliates of Young Audiences Arts for Learning, the nation’s largest arts in education learning network. To learn more about Arts for Learning, visit ArtsForLearningIndiana.org.