Though the Indianapolis Art Center is chock-full of classes geared toward traditional art, its exhibitions are as contemporary as it gets.

The upcoming Winter Exhibition Series — with takes on DIY culture, hand-made and the out-of-the box — might just be an indication that Millennials are firmly in control of this Indianapolis art institution.

The opening reception for the Winter Exhibition Series will feature four separate group and solo exhibitions.

"We have all of these different gallery spaces and instead of having all of these disjointed shows, I really want them to be unified and have a dialogue with each other," says the (early) thirtysomething director of exhibitions Kyle Herrington. "And that's something that I'm really thinking about when curating different kinds of shows."

The artists in the group show Doing It Themselves: Artists Exploring the Handmade are definitely in dialogue with each other; most of them hang out (and hanging art) together. And if you've been to the gallery that serves as a barometer for local art trends in Indy (General Public Collective in Fountain Square) the aesthetic may appear familiar even if you aren't acquainted with the individual work of Indy-area artists: Erin K. Drew, Jenny Ollikainen, Nat Russell, Emily Gable, Eric Stine and Thea Meussling.

"It's really sort of celebrating the aesthetic of handmade," says Herrington.

You can see this DIY aesthetic at work in Nat Russell's wall-hanging sculpture entitled "Modern Library Fresh Titles," that is made to resemble a bookshelf.

And with his work's resonances, it's not surprising that Russell's gaining renown outside Indy. But, as Herrington notes, Russell has chosen to help define culture here. Herrington sees templates for that kind of thing elsewhere in the history of contemporary art, pointing to the Bay Area Artists of San Francisco.

"They were a gang of artists, and they all had a similar style of work and I think that's true of here too," he says. "But I think it's important to show what's going on outside the Midwest too."

Or way outside the Midwest. Amelia Toelke, now based in Thailand, has several wall-hanging sculptures.

Looking at her rose-colored, laser-cut acrylic work "Dragonfruit," you can see your reflection in it.

I've always been inspired by jewelry, reflective materials," says Toelke. "And being in Thailand, seeing these amazingly seductive surfaces on lots and lots of things, mostly on temples there, I usually gravitate towards metals and things like that. I love the idea of seeing yourself in the architecture; you come up to the building and you're a part of it."

And visitors can participate in the Interactive Snowflake Exhibition, making their own snowflakes in the Ruth Lilly Library.

But perhaps the pièce de résistance of the Winter Exhibition Series is Sean Derry's "Accompaniment," which features a handmade player piano powered by the same engine turning the turntable of an old record player playing "Moon River." While the piano's keys move, no sounds emanate from its interior.

Derry, the head of the sculpture program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, says of this piece, "I'm interested in digging into that notion of companionship, the potential to animate inanimate objects and the quality of the act that goes into repurposing these materials.

When: Dec. 4-Jan. 30, opening Reception Dec. 11, 6-9 p.m.

Where: Indianapolis Art Center

Tickets: FREE and open to the public

Sale: Faculty Winter Art Sale

When: Dec. 11, 6-9 p.m.; Dec. 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: IAC studio

Featured artists: Erin K. Drew, Jenny Ollikainen, Eric Stine, Nat Russell, Emily Gable, Thea Meussling, Amelia Toelke, Katie Hudnall, Sean Derry


Dan Grossman is NUVO's arts editor.

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