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Students combine art with local history

“Ask a building its story and wait for it to tell you.”

These are just a few words of Sara Brooks’s artwork at the opening reception of “Interpreting the Square: 30 Artists Explore Downtown Bloomington.”

“The turnout was wonderful. I recognized a lot of faces, but people from the community also came out, which was our goal,” said graduate student Kristin Carlson, who co-administrated the project with Brooks.

Brooks said the diverse crowd of students, faculty and local residents had “been really positive.”

Junior Robert Lyon used the Indiana Room at the Monroe County Public Library to research his building, Caveat Emptor, a used bookstore, located at 112 N. Walnut Street. Before it was a bookstore, the building was a 20th-century candy store.

“I mixed modern technology of the sound equipment with an antique nickel slot like a jukebox that turns on music,” said Lyon, who is studying computer science and created an individualized major called Experimental Music Sonic Art.

After forcefully placing the nickel through the slot, Lyon said the motors and a computer work together to capture a new sound.

He said the thought process behind his project is that the computer-recording program and building both have a certain framework and a structure limitation. However, the coin inside the machine or the people inside the building are still randomly generated.

“The juxaposition of past and present is a pretty overdone theme in art, but this is executed in a way that is entertaining for the viewer,” sophomore Rafael Cronin, who is studying art history, said.

Ceramics graduate student Emily Loehle’s building was Superior Shoes at 120 N. Walnut St. She worked with the exterior details of the store.

“The stucco façade is basically just frosting on the surface, but I wanted to reference the brick by shaping the pieces the way I did,” Loehle said.

She said she thinks it is interesting that the building appears to be Spanish-inspired even though it is made of Indiana limestone.

“Why put the façade? There is a need to create false realities,” Loehle said.

Graduate student Matisse Giddings researched the history behind her building, Grazie Italian Eatery, and discovered it had been a ballet studio, an optical shop, a health food store, a yoga studio and a restaurant.

“The past is a chunky surface that opens up so you can remember that moment,” Giddings said.

Giddings plastered a white chunky surface, then placed selected images she drew into peepholes to represent images the stores would have on signs outside their shops.

“I wanted it to be like you were really looking at the past through these images,” she said.

Interpreting the square
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays now until Sept. 30
Where: City Hall Atrium

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