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Indianapolis Museum of Art Announces Public Art Installation by Artist Mary Miss
Mary Miss, FLOW (Can You See the River?), rendering. Courtesy of Mary Miss Studio.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art announced that New York-based artist Mary Miss will create a series of site-specific installations along the White River called FLOW (Can You See the River?). The project will reveal important and unique elements of the water system through a series of installations at stopping points along the river and canal, engaging residents and increasing awareness of the watershed and the role it plays in the city’s life. The project will premiere September 2011 and is the first new work to be commissioned for 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park since the Park’s opening in June 2010.

The collaborative project envisioned by Miss will take place along a six-mile stretch of the river, starting at the Central Canal in the Broad Ripple area continuing to White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. Multiple stopping points along the river will draw the visitors’ attention to focal points of the water system, using carefully placed mirror markers and oversized map pins to create a series of reflections – engaging the viewers and portraying them as an integral part of the watershed. These features will use modest interventions in the landscape to point out key aspects of the system such as wetlands, floodplains, combined sewer outfalls and pollution, with an inscription on the reverse of each mirror stating: “ALL PROPERTY IS RIVERFRONT PROPERTY. THE RIVER STARTS AT YOUR FRONT DOOR.” Other project elements may include rain gardens, green roof samples, porous pavement samples and historical images – initiating a conversation about sustainability and environmental issues and suggesting individual involvement and impact.

Visitors will be able to read information at the site or use their personal cell phones to access site-specific commentary – such as a zoologist talking about the best place to watch river turtles or a scientist discussing storm surge dynamics. FLOW is a precedent project for The City as Living Laboratory, Sustainability Made Tangible through the Arts (CaLL), a framework developed by Miss and Marda Kirn of EcoArts Connections. Through collaboration with scientists, planners, educators and designers the CaLL platform provides on-the-ground opportunities for visitor engagement and communication. The second CaLL precedent project will take place on Broadway in New York City.

“Mary Miss’ project will create an important and dynamic link between 100 Acres, the city of Indianapolis, and the natural features that impact and determine our experience of both,” said Lisa Freiman, Chair of the IMA’s Department of Contemporary Art. “FLOW (Can You See the River?) will engage Miss’ acute sculptural and architectural sensibility to encourage the visualization of processes and phenomena that are largely invisible and often overlooked.”

“With this project, Indianapolis is setting a precedent for how city government, cultural institutions and artists can work together to make issues like climate change and sustainability more tangible to its residents,” Miss said. “The city is decoded at riverside sites as complex information and processes usually found on websites or in books are made accessible in the actual location where they occur.”

The Indianapolis Museum of Art will feature stopping points to highlight many uses of water in its building and on its grounds, tracing how water supports the functions of the built environment. The installation will also draw attention to the varied ecological features found at 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. A public kick-off for FLOW will take place September 2011 at 100 Acres. Visitors also will be able to gain a better understanding of the full installation and how the river fits into Indianapolis through a walkable floor map that will be installed within the museum.

In addition to the IMA, the content for FLOW is being developed in collaboration with the City of Indianapolis; United States Geological Survey; Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences; Butler University Center for Urban Ecology; Marian University EcoLab; White River State Park; Indiana State Museum; Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art; Indianapolis Zoo; HARMONI (a group of residents, business owners and Indianapolis public/private leadership committed to rejuvenating the Midtown area of the city); Indianapolis Art Center; and neighborhood associations of Butler-Tarkington, Ravenswood, and Rocky Ripple. This project is part of the National Endowment for the Arts Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative.

Mary Miss
Known for her environmentally based artwork, Mary Miss lives and works in New York City. She has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time. Social, cultural and environmental sustainability are the focus of installations that allow the visitor to become aware of local history, ecology or other aspects of the site that have gone unnoticed. Miss has collaborated closely with architects, planners, engineers, ecologists and public administrators on projects as diverse as creating a temporary memorial around the perimeter of Ground Zero, marking the predicted flood level of Boulder, Colorado, revealing the history of the Union Square Subway station in New York City or turning a sewage treatment plant into a public space. A recipient of multiple awards, Miss has participated in exhibitions at the Harvard University Art Museum, Brown University Gallery, The Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Architectural Association in London, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and the Des Moines Art Center.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art | Mary Miss | "FLOW" |

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