Arts for Learning Indiana provides and supplements arts education in schools, and it offers a new multi-sensory outdoor art exhibit called “Cloud Vibrations” at Re:Public, a Near Eastside community artspace.
WFYI's Jill Ditmire spoke via Zoom with Senior Director of Programs Ploi Pagdalian and teaching artists Sofiya Inger and Dianna Davis. They talked about pivoting during the pandemic and gathering input from the students.
PLOI PAGDALIAN: Call it a silver lining of a pandemic, I guess that we had to brainstorm. Diana and Sophia, with their creativity, had to come up with, sort of like, a gathering space that is safe and yet available to all. So we started with the students at Thomas Greg, because, you know, we are an organization that serves students and, and that is our strength. Really the heart of this started with students, and then broadcasted to the community -- inviting them to participate in this, what we call, multisensory outdoor installation.
JILL DITMIRE: So for you, what will you take away from this project that may wind up in your art in the future?
SOFIA INGER: Well, this was a really a challenging, but also exciting, experience. I had to come up with the way to distribute materials, to be safe. So I prepared over 500 envelopes, these little bottles, so every child would have their own, individual art materials, so they don't contaminate. So this was something interesting. And I might just try to see how I can use it in the future.
DITMIRE: Dianna was the music that you created specifically because of the whole mood of the pandemic and the feeling that everyone is feeling right now? Or is it something that's really a part of you, no matter what's going on?
DIANNA DAVIS: I think it's a little of both. I think you can't help but be affected by what's going on and your own personal life. A lot of the music that was created was really inspired or directed by what the students gave me. I had an idea of what I was going to do. But then, when I got the material from the students, it really shaped the music video and the music that I created. It was really wonderful to work with the students. And they were very brave. They didn't know who I was. I was wearing a mask. I was wearing a face shield. I asked them to do something kind of strange for them. And then they gave me this really wonderful musical notes on that, and they were all very different. And so when I put it together, it just formed as I went.
DITMIRE: Ploi, do you see similar installations like this in the future for arts for learning, and perhaps other neighborhood community art spaces?
PAGDALIAN: Definitely. I think that is always in our mind as we develop partnerships all over the city, if not outside of Indianapolis, and something definitely good can come out of it. And hopefully, in better times, when we're not restricted with a lot of things, when it comes to gathering and when safety protocols are lifted, and we could all be together again -- this exhibit obviously would look different. But now, even with limitations, we have some exciting stuff prepared for the community. Both Diana and Sophia thought through how we could keep it safe, and how to direct the participants' view so that they could experience the installation fully. And yeah, we're excited to get to open this to the community very soon.
DITMIRE: We're looking forward to seeing it, hearing it and sharing something in the arts community very safely. Thank you, all three of you.
PAGDALIAN: Thank you.
INGER: Thank you, Jill.
DAVIS: Thank you.