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Exhibit Columbus Opens 2021 Exhibition

Tracing Our Mississippi
Tracing Our Mississippi
Derek Hoeferlin
Derek Hoeferlin
To Middle Species, with Love
To Middle Species, with Love
Joyce Hwang
Joyce Hwang
LaWaSo Ground
LaWaSo Ground
Jei Jeeyea Kim
Jei Jeeyea Kim
Spectral
Spectral
Ersela Kripa
Ersela Kripa
Stephen Mueller
Stephen Mueller
Window Dressing
Window Dressing
On Saturday, August 21, Exhibit Columbus – the annual exploration of architecture, art, design, and community – will open its third exhibition to the public. Exhibit Columbus commissions some of the most creative minds in architecture, design, and art to create new works in dialogue with the iconic buildings, landscapes, and public art of Columbus, Indiana.

The opening weekend will enliven downtown Columbus, as it celebrates the city’s architecture and design legacy with site-specific installations, photography, and a graphic identity and wayfinding system. This weekend is the only opportunity during the exhibition’s three-month run to see the exhibition alongside all the curators, architects, landscape architects, artists, and designers who created the installations, as well as Columbus residents and visitors from around the world.

The 2021 Exhibition kicks off on Friday, August 20 with the Preview Party in Mill Race Park and then opens to the public on Saturday, August 21 with free conversations by the curators and participants, tours, and live music in Mill Race Park. The exhibition features 13 site-responsive installations, including five large-scale works by internationally acclaimed J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients. Walking the entire exhibition route is about 1.5 miles and takes two hours to experience.

The theme of this year’s exhibition is New Middles: From Main Street to Megalopolis, What is the Future of the Middle City?. Curated by Mimi Zeiger (Los Angeles) and Iker Gil (Chicago), the theme explores ideas related to the Mississippi watershed, local ecology, animal habitats, and the city after dark. Each installation encourages viewers to learn more about Columbus’s unique history and imagine its future.

University Design Research Fellowship
Seven University Design Research Fellowships have been awarded to leading professors of architecture, landscape architecture, and design from American universities who will create installations highlighting their research. University Design Research Fellows were selected for their ability to tackle specific sets of issues germane to the future of the city and the Mississippi Watershed region, such as sustainability and material reuse, non-human habitat, watershed ecologies, emergent technologies, and migration. The University Design Research Fellows for 2020–2021 are:

Derek Hoeferlin, Washington University in St. Louis

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Tracing Our Mississippi will be an interactive installation and public programming series at the site of the Columbus Pump House, on a terrace adjacent to the Flatrock River. By representing the Mississippi Watershed as a large-scale, abstracted model (composed as a set of moveable pieces) and complimented by a series of large-format drawings drawn at multiple scales, the installation emphasizes the relentless infrastructures controlling the Mississippi’s landscapes, communities, and resources. Hoeferlin’s project in Columbus and ongoing research presents the question: Is the Mississippi Watershed really a watershed anymore?

Joyce Hwang, University of Buffalo

To Middle Species, with Love is designed to amplify habitat conditions for urban wildlife in Columbus and bring increased visibility to their presence among us, as co-inhabitants of the built environment. These animals – which we call “Middle Species” in contrast to “flagship” species – are common and embedded in our communities: bats, birds, reptiles. They are neighbors and residents who are active agents in our urban ecosystems and contribute significantly to the health of cities, yet often remain invisible in our imaginations of where we live.

Sited within the landscape of Mill Race Park, Hwang’s installation is conceived of as a series of “strata,” featuring bat and bird habitat conditions above, and environments for terrestrial and amphibious species below. To shift human perception to sense the less-visible world of urban animals, the project provides visitors ways to explore Middle Species sounds – particularly bat echolocation – by using ultrasonic detectors to regularly record bat calls and make the recordings accessible to visitors, both in-person and through online platforms.

Jei Jeeyea Kim, Indiana University

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LaWaSo Ground is a contemporary memorial and a community ground of (La)nd, (Wa)ter, and (So)il designed to help bridge some of the cultural dichotomies of our time through the lens of material culture. Sited on the lawn of First Christian Church, the installation draws from an acknowledgment of the silenced and suppressed voices of the past, and advocates for more diverse inclusion in the future. LaWaSo Ground combines stone elements that echo the topography of the limestone quarries found in the region with landscape mounds reminiscent of Indigenous earthworks along the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys.

Water is the common element linking the two formal pieces of the installation and is manifested in several ways including engraved patterns across the stonework. The pattern motifs were designed by Indigenous artist Katrina Mitten, a citizen of the Myaamia Nation of Oklahoma.

A 3-D printed metal bracket for the limestone tower is being developed with the advanced manufacturing team at Cummins Technical Center, as part of Kim and partner Dorian Bybee’s ongoing material and fabrication research. Indiana limestone plays a complicated symbolic role, referencing its use in the construction of civic monuments across the United States. Meanwhile, the scale and location of the project are meant to establish a dialogue with Henry Moore’s Large Arch and the clock tower of First Christian Church.

Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, Texas Tech College of Architecture in El Paso

Spectral addresses the legacy of aerial activity above the city and speculates on a future in which urban spaces are cognizant of their engagement with aerial imaging technologies. Recent advances in aerial imaging have rapidly expanded the ability for a host of actors to detect and respond to changes in cities, landscapes, and public spaces. Beyond the visible spectrum, these technologies record and analyze sub-perceptual shifts in heat signatures, radio waves, and radiation. Low-cost and widely accessible imaging devices have transformed the city into a multispectral environment, where previously invisible activities are newly detectable.

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As an installation adjacent to the historic Crump Theater, Spectral is designed as both a public gathering place and a meditation on how and what is seen has changed from projected light (the movie theater) to increasingly pervasive aerial infrared imaging. The thermal activity of visitors to the site will be shielded from the view of multispectral cameras, making it a kind of “safe space” in the urban landscape.

Ang Li, Northeastern University

Window Dressing is a façade installation along the Washington Street face of The Commons that invites the public to reflect on the cultural and architectural legacy of Late Modernism. Through a lightweight and ornamental cladding system of overlapping mylar shingles, the installation recalls the mirror-glass façade of the original 1973 building designed by César Pelli and Norma Merrick Sklarek of Gruen Associates, which was demolished in 2008.

Li’s research into the conflicting material histories of mirrored glass – first developed by the aerospace industry then rapidly used within architecture throughout the 1970s – continues her interest into the afterlife of building materials. Her installation, in contrast to the smooth and hermetic surface of the curtain wall façade, will present layered reflections of the surrounding context and the shiny mylar shingles will react dynamically to changing atmospheres and events: wind and light, pedestrian traffic, and the civic rhythms of downtown Columbus.

Lola Sheppard and Mason White, University of Toronto and University of Waterloo

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This Appearance Is ____ invites citizens into the space of appearance and disappearance. In the 1950s, Hannah Arendt viewed the public realm as a collaborative process of world-making; that which is seen and heard in common is continually reaffirmed as constituting a “space of appearance.” Today, however, our collective space of appearance is fragmented, as are individual visibilities and perceptions. How can we negotiate our visibilities today?

Located along Washington Street north of 6th Street, the installation is a study in the ability to retreat from and then rejoin the larger world – a test made all the more poignant after more than a year of pandemic restrictions. This Appearance Is ____, the title a homonym for “disappearances”, is a maze of curved walls made of lenticular plastic sheets which create a unique optical condition, effectively blurring the subject from view and allowing them to disappear almost completely within the installation. These surprising optical effects are designed to invite visitors to weave in and out of the structures: by night, the panels will be illuminated, creating an ethereal ribbon of light creating shadowy and lit figures.

Natalie Yates, Ball State University

Calibrate is an apparatus for registering and perceiving multiple scales of intricate, accumulated environment data gathered from across Columbus and its environs. This installation in the courtyard of Franklin Square, home of the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County, records the cultivated ecological layers of a city rich in making, creativity, and innovation over multiple, disparate timescales – from geologic time to real-time sensing data. The aggregation of thousands of years of glacial motion, together with the Ohio River watershed ecosystem has long nourished anthropogenic ingenuity for industry, agriculture, and technology.

Calibrate is a kind of drawing machine. Its armature is a large, transparent repository, superimposed with terrain mappings and a foundational terrain base. Inside the repository, choreographed by environment sensing data, a hopper and stylus on a robotic gantry methodically deposit and disperse media onto the horizontal bed. The media accumulates and repositions, continuously redrawing and remapping the underlying terrain. Visitors will see the gantry’s movement as a slow drawing, which might also be interpreted as a kind of performance that makes visible the interconnected ecological information that centers Columbus within a long timeline.

J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize
The J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize is the centerpiece of Exhibit Columbus and honors the legacy of two great patrons of our community. The 2020–21 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients represent practices that celebrate design and have a deep interest in research and making. They have been selected for their commitment to the transformative power that architecture, art, and design must improve people’s lives and make cities better places to live. This year’s J. Irwin and Xenia Miller Prize winners are:
  • Dream the Combine in Minneapolis
  • Ecosistema Urbano in Miami and Madrid, Spain
  • Future Firm in Chicago
  • Olalekan Jeyifous in Brooklyn
  • Sam Jacob Studio in London
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“These five Miller Prize winners represent the future of architecture and design,” said Anne Surak, Director of Exhibit Columbus. “They bring to Columbus a deep understanding of the ways architecture and design, at a variety of scales, shape our cities and inform the ways we relate to each other.”

Photography Fellows
2020-21 Exhibit Columbus Photography Fellows, Virginia Hanusik and David Schalliol have each been documenting parts of Columbus, the Heartland, and the Mississippi watershed from social, economic, and environmental perspectives. The Photography Fellows' work was presented in innovative ways as part of the 2021 Exhibition.
High School Design Team
Columbus’ architectural legacy and its impact on the community started with investments made in the schools. The commissioning of innovative, well-designed educational facilities helped lead to what can be seen today: a quality, forward-thinking educational system. What once began as a way to make the public school experience better for children has now become a core leadership value of the city.

Inspired by Miller's vision, Exhibit Columbus seeks to educate the next generation of the Columbus community about its design heritage through the High School Design Team. Students from the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC) will create an installation as part of the 2021 exhibition.

2020–21 High School Design Team Leaders:

  • Naricyn Andis
  • Brody Copas
  • Harley Grant
  • Chase Jones
  • Andrew Krueger
  • Alyson Le
  • Eshaan Mehta
  • Grishma Pitkar
  • Alex Thomas
  • Darin Johnson, C4 Instructor

“The foundation of middle cities is based on rivers. These waterways shape how cities are formed and how they develop into the future. Tunnel Vision looks at how Columbus was formed as a middle city and how it can develop into a larger city. Just as rivers have a linear path, our geodesic tunnel is a linear experience that transports you through history…Visitors enter the structure at the base of the “river”, represented in colored panels that tell a story of how Columbus revolutionized modern architecture. As visitors flow through the tunnel, informational videos, viewable by QR codes, teach guests about Columbus’ architecture. Columbus is expanding, so we also created a video predicting possible changes to the city that will be made over time. — High School Design Team

The Exhibition, which has been endorsed as an official Columbus Area Bicentennial Project, will be on display through November 28 with additional projects and events throughout, including Next Generation Day, an event geared toward youth and families, Mapping the Middle: Design Research Conversations, created in partnership with Ball State University and Indiana University to highlight the University Design Research Fellowship, and Watershed Weekend, a series of events featuring the Photography Fellows, Derek Hoeferlin, and special guests that will explore the Mississippi watershed – its past, present, and future; and a collaborative project with the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Opening Weekend Events
Friday, August 20:
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Preview Party in Mill Race Park (5 – 11 p.m.)

A one-of-a-kind opening celebration in Mill Race Park. This is a ticketed event including an extraordinary evening of food, libations, and live music.

Saturday, August 21

10 – 11 a.m. – Walking tours with Photography Fellows
1 – 2:15 p.m. – University Design Research Fellows Conversations Part 1
2:15 – 2:30 p.m. – Welcome and Introduction of the 2020–21 High School Design Team
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. – University Design Research Fellows Conversations Part 2
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Recipient Conversations
8:30 – 9:30 p.m. – Twilight music in Mill Race Park

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