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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student


John Mellencamp’s legacy will be cemented in stone


In one of John Mellencamp’s most famous songs, he sings of his love for small towns and the place where he was born. That small town in question, Seymour, is only an hour away from Bloomington. 

Mellencamp hasn’t been shy about his love for Bloomington — he lives in the community and residents have often seen him and his family out and about. Mellencamp has also played sold out concerts at the IU Auditorium. 

Mellencamp has shown his affection for Indiana University publicly as well.  On March 3, 2023, he partnered with IU to host the Indiana University Mellencamp Symposium.  At the event President Pamela Whitten announced that Mellencamp donated archives of his life and work to the university. 

According to a press release, the collections in the archive are extensive, including photographs of Mellencamp, instruments he has played, original works and other significant memorabilia like items related to his activism and philanthropy. In the press release, President Whitten reflected on Mellencamp’s influence on IU, Bloomington and American culture. 

“John’s impact on music and American culture is immense,” Whitten said in the press release. “On behalf of Hoosiers everywhere, I am exceptionally proud of John’s lifelong association with IU and deeply grateful to him for selecting the university as the permanent home for his archives.” 

Additionally, Mellencamp is working with the Eskenazi Museum of Art to create an exhibit displaying his paintings. He has been painting since 1980 and his work has been featured across the nation. 

Bob Guccione Jr., the publisher of a book detailing Mellencamp’s art, said in a press release that Mellencamp’s paintings showed his endless talent was not limited to music. 

“Although we may primarily know Mellencamp as a rock star, one of the highest-selling of all time and a Hall of Famer, he is also a great painter,” Guccione Jr. said in the press release. “Not a musician who also paints... no, John legitimately belongs in the modern art pantheon.” 

As such, John and Michelle Vickery, Randy Hoffman, Allen Grubman and other anonymous donors have felt it only fitting that Mellencamp’s legacy lives on as a piece of art on the campus he loves. A statue of Mellencamp will stand near the Fine Arts Plaza, reminding IU students of where art can take them. 

While an artist has not yet been chosen to design the statue, whoever is chosen will show the strength of the connection between Bloomington and Mellencamp. As Mellencamp himself wrote, “I can be myself in a small town . . . and that’s where they’ll probably bury me.” With the new statue, Mellencamp will live on forever in the small town he has chosen as his home. 

This article is part of the Source Visitors Guide, an IDS special publication

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