Painting: Dance: Design/A Collaboration of the Arts

Taylor Henderson
Curatorial Intern

The David Owsley Museum of Art is a valuable resource in Muncie: utilized by both the university and the community. There are many instances where the museum becomes the catalyst for interaction between the university and city. This week, art from DOMA was used in a creative project combining multiple university departments and Muncie’s downtown.

The dance team under direction of Ms. Rebecca Pappas
The dance team under direction of Ms. Rebecca Pappas

Can you dance a painting? Can you walk through a painting? First year design students in the College of Architecture and Planning and choreography students in the Department of Theater and Dance are working to do just that. Led by the new Assistant Professor of Dance History, Ms. Rebecca Pappas, and Professor of Architecture Dr. Joseph Bilello, a performance art installation was displayed at the Muncie Makes Lab on November’s First Thursday. The progenitor of this project is the art from DOMA’s permanent display, used as inspiration for each student’s creation. “Interdisciplinary collaboration explores and reveals phenomena of common interests,” stated Dr. Bilello, “it leads to breakthroughs within a student’s disciplinary bounds.”

Below: Rachel Stewart and Samantha Conte dancing to Lee Krasner’s Right Bird Left, Above
Below: Rachel Stewart and Samantha Conte dancing to Lee Krasner’s Right Bird Left, Above

First year architecture students were given the task of translating paintings at the David Owsley Museum into three dimensional spaces for dancers. The choreography students were given the challenge of designing a dance around various paintings within the gallery. Architecture and choreography students teamed up in groups of two to four to collaborate on pieces of artwork, these included many works of art in the museum including Right Bird Left by Lee Krasner, and Reflection by Childe Hassam. After the partnered dances an ensemble finale was performed by all the dancers to accompany Roger Brown’s Burglars, Beaters, and Burners.

On the left, Christie Bellish dances to her interpretation of Childe Hassam's painting, Reflection (on the right).
On the left, Christie Bellish dances to her interpretation of Childe Hassam’s painting, Reflection (on the right).

The Muncie Makes Lab is an exhibition space located on 628 S. Walnut Street in downtown Muncie. Ball State University has owned the property since 2003, but it wasn’t until the efforts of Andrea Swartz, interim chairperson and professor of the Department of Architecture, that the building was made usable and retrofitted into a gallery. Starting in 2014 Andrea brought students from the College of Architecture and Planning to assist in its renovation. Still an ongoing project, Muncie Makes Lab has become a significant link connecting the university to the city. Every First Thursday its doors open to showcase the creative and academic endeavors of both university students and faculty as well as members of the Muncie community. During this event, the choreography students hosted two performances on the second floor of Muncie Makes, lasting from 6:00-6:30 pm and 7:00-7:30 pm.

Ensemble dancing (below) Robert Brown’s Burglars, Beaters, and Burners (above), space interpreted by Christian Schmoll
Ensemble dancing (below) Roger Brown’s Burglars, Beaters, and Burners (above), space interpreted by Christian Schmoll

A projection display was set up for the dancers, showing the artwork they were performing and their respective CAP student models. These projections highlighted the dancers while casting silhouettes against the walls and images. “I loved my dance,” said Ariel Meece, one of the CAP students involved in the collaboration, “It was fantastic!” Her choreography partner Rachel Stewart also enjoyed the evening, “It turned out well; I was excited by her design.”

The art at DOMA inspires many projects at the university. The works of art at the museum are often used as inspiration, and serve as a focal point, for creativity. It’s important and invaluable to see these projects taking place inside the Muncie community.

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