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City Stories 

An antique hand mirror, a small bronze bell, partially eaten butter rum-flavored Lifesavers: three simple items all carrying unique stories that tie back to their Indy-dwelling owners.

As part of the Indianapolis Art Center's Summer "Storytellers" Exhibition Series, Lukas Schooler's (of NoExit Performance) PΔLIS exhibit looks to "gather a visual record" of Indianapolis through the objects of its people. In his exhibit, the artist assumes the persona of Dr. Felix Rupton, an urban sociologist from Reading, Pennsylvania, who "hopes to utilize his methodological style to research the stories that bind and unwind" our city's citizens.

Lukas Schooler’s exhibit includes large-scale sculptures including Urban Renewal Project: City X, which is a field of ceramic doorknobs assembled on the wall, and Private Sector: Rezoning the Homestead. - BEN SHINE
  • Ben Shine
  • Lukas Schooler’s exhibit includes large-scale sculptures including Urban Renewal Project: City X, which is a field of ceramic doorknobs assembled on the wall, and Private Sector: Rezoning the Homestead.

Alongside installation and sculptural work he has crafted in the Art Center's Churchman-Fehsenfeld gallery, an office has been set up for Schooler's sociologist alter ego. In a corner of the gallery, he accepts item submissions from the public "in order to gather material for a programmatic study of the Circle City's distinctive population." Following this collection process, the collection will be displayed in the Indianapolis Museum of Current and Past Objects on August 1.

"We're hoping that people give some thought towards it in terms of what they believe would be an object that should be put in this museum," Schooler says. "It's kind of being open-ended and it's meant to be, because I think people carry different relations and links to objects."

Schooler uses an object he is contributing as an example: an old, half-charred nutcracker, which he says was involved in some kind of laboratory accident, according to the women he bought it from at the Woodruff Place Flea Market. Through briefly interviewing people when they submit items, "Rupton" and his three assistants are collecting bits of information such as this, which will in turn "feed" the August opening of the IMCPO.

"The way I feel about this nutcracker that's been burnt, that I've been keeping, is completely different from the woman who was trying to sell it," he explains. "We're really interested in sharing that backstory behind an object."

In looking at IAC's overall "Storytellers" Summer Exhibition theme, the Art Center's Exhibitions Associate Kyle Herrington sees Schooler's PΔLIS exhibit as a great way to spark some sort of internal dialogue in the viewer-- a dialogue that will hopefully have viewers asking questions such as, "What importance do we place on our history, how much are we looking at building the future of the city, and can those two aspects have a relationship or a dialogue with each other?"

Indianapolis residents are invited to add to the Indianapolis Museum of Current and Past Objects on various occasions during the exhibition. - LUKAS SCHOOLER
  • Lukas Schooler
  • Indianapolis residents are invited to add to the Indianapolis Museum of Current and Past Objects on various occasions during the exhibition.

"I think it's a really apt time for him to be doing this work, especially with all of this building up that's getting done in Indianapolis," Herrington says. "We're seeing all these neighborhoods being revitalized and all this money being put into growing all of these different parts of the city, so I think that's a really important question that he's sort of forcing viewers to think about as these changes are happening."

So although Schooler may not be literally telling a story through his multi-faceted "Storytellers" exhibit, he is definitely hoping to get a point across.

"I want people to come away with a better understanding of their role within the cityscape that we live in, and a better understanding of the nature of the city--how reliant the city is on us and vice versa," he says. "I want people to just kind of have a better understanding of what it means to be a city dweller."

For more information on the exhibit, visit http://imcpo.tumblr.com/.

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Seth Johnson

Seth Johnson

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Since high school, Seth Johnson has been drawn to telling compelling stories through the lens of journalism. A 2013 graduate from Ball State University’s News program, he has especially discovered a love for music journalism, particularly connecting to local music stories in an effort to enlighten others on Indianapolis’... more

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