Meeting Notes, Region & RegionalismIt’s an Indiana January, and the wall of windows opens to a grey afternoon. A fog is settling over campus, and gives the illusion that we are set apart.
The room is full. Before the meeting starts, twenty people will be here, outlining the triangular table configuration. We are in the William and Diane Itter Objects Study room of the newly-reopened Eskenazi Museum of Art. It is a room designed for close examination, for studying the smallest of details.
This is the first meeting of our new cohort, and the energy is high. Faculty Director Arthur Liou welcomes everyone and kicks off a round of introductions that takes nearly a half hour. The group ranges from undergraduate students to long-time faculty members. Art, theatre, history, sociology, English, and a half a dozen other disciplines are represented. The depth of knowledge and breadth of experience in the room is staggering.
When the introductions conclude, Arthur takes a step back. He draws our attention to the screen above his head and congratulates us all for being part of the critical mass of brain power needed to expand Platform’s Indiana Studies team. On the screen is a slide from a 2015 meeting that envisioned Platform, calling it “a lab dedicated to cutting edge and world-changing research and creative activity in arts & humanities, emphasizing emerging area of strength and interdisciplinary exchange.”
Principal Investigator Ed Dallis-Comentale speaks from the opposite side of the room. Since so many of our members are new this semester, he brings them up to speed on the institutional goals of Platform:
1. to show that team-based collaborative research is possible in the arts & humanities in a way that is comparable to what happens in social sciences.
2. to demonstrate the utility of an arts & humanities education.
The presentations start: Nathan Schmidt, Jeeyea Kim & Dorian Bybee, and Marleen Newman introduce us to their projects. Nathan's presentation is first. He gives us a brief history of naturalist, and then does a deep dive into Muir's beginnings, focusing on his time spent in Indiana. Muir specifically selected Indianapolis because of its location between the modernization of industry and the wildness of the surrounding world. Jeeyea Kim and Dorian Bybee are up next, to talk about Indiana limestone. They tell us about the development of limestone, the history of quarrying and its construction use in the state. They also talk about the ongoing uses in the state, how it's now often used in a more ornamental way. Marleen Newman is the final speaker, and gives a presentation about the architect Harry Weese. She shows slides of the First Baptist Church in Columbus, Indiana, and illuminates his effects on regionalism in architecture in Indiana.
Each presentation sparks questions and comments. There is a process starting, development and refinement will happen here, in this room, with these people.