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NYC painter to speak on social art

BY Abigail Roberts - ctreport@indy.rr.com

Birthed from a conversation between Wendy Puffer and Kevin McKelvey, director of social practice art at the University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis and Marion will host Socially Engaged Art and Design (SEAD) conferences next weekend.

In partnership with UIndy and Marion Design Co., SEAD is aimed at engaging students, faculty and community members in social change and community development through art and design.

Socially engaged art aims to see change in local communities through collaboration and creativity.

A two-day, two location event, SEAD will be held Nov. 16 at UIndy and Nov. 17 at Marion Design Co. in Marion. This particular weekend centers around the concepts of community art, design education and placemaking.

“The idea is to get as many voices as possible in to train faculty and students in how to get involved with the community they’re in and inspire them to do so,” said Puffer, who is an Indiana Wesleyan University professor of arts and social designer.

College students often don’t know how to actively engage with the community that surrounds their campus. And even if students volunteer and work in their community for their four years of study, after graduation they transition out.

“Becoming a part of your community is not just volunteering while you’re a student,” Puffer said. “Our goal is to help those participating innovate impactful methods, even if those who don’t feel artistic or design oriented.

Friday, Nov. 16 events include morning presentations from LaShawnda Storm, University of Indianapolis art faculty and Lauren Pacheco, member of IU Northwest’s art programming. The afternoon will consist of visits to three social design firms concluded by a workshop on placemaking and socially engaged art from 2-4 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 17 in Marion, the second part of SEAD’s two-day event will take place at Marion Design Co.

Eric Helvie, a New York-based painter and founder of the Marion Studio Project in 2018, will speak on collaboration in an exposition entitled, “Art Lives Here,” following a presentation by the co-founder of Marion Design Co. and IWU associate professor of graphic design Herb Vincent Peterson.

“The SEAD conference is an incredible opportunity for artists, creative practitioners and anyone in the community to plug into what’s happening in Marion,” Helvie said. “It’s not just a chance to hear what the speakers have to say, it’s also a chance to network and nurture connections with other people who recognize the power art and design have.”

Helvie’s in-depth discussion will focus on redefining the traditional artist-in-residence model, emphasizing the power of large-scale production and exploring the concept of “learning by osmosis.” He will touch on his Marion Studio Project which focuses on what it means to establish a vital bridge between Marion, New York City and the art world at large.

“New York keeps becoming a more and more expensive place to live and thus, more and more out of reach for many people,” Helvie said. “Marion has world-class talent, but we understand that for many talented individuals making the initial jump to NYC might not be a realistic move.”

Marion Studio Project’s desire is to create a cultural hub, one that allows artists to live and work in Marion with unfettered access to the galleries, museums, curators and collectors of New York and the art world at large.

At SEAD, additional talks will be given by Jordan Kauffman, faculty in visual communication design and art history at the University of Notre Dame in Goshen and Sean Starowitz, founder of the Dialogue Lab, Bloomington, focused on action-based dialogue in US communities.

“I’m excited about telling the Marion story,” Puffer said. “I didn’t originally appreciate Marion until moving downtown and my heart has changed so much in the recent years.”

SEAD’s final day will conclude with design thinking sessions in a Jeffersonian-style lunch from 2-5 p.m. led by Marion Design Co. student interns.

Entrance fee is $10 for students, $25 for faculty and staff and $30 for general admission. Tickets include morning coffee, snacks and lunch. The event is currently sold out, but those interested can email seadindiana@gmail.com for exceptions.