The medium of collage is explored in two projects developed by the Indianapolis nonprofit arts organization Big Car. To highlight the growing international culture of Indianapolis, Big Car invited artist Ben Valentine to create a collage that would speak to the experience of international travel. The resulting installation combines various cloud images sourced from the Internet, visually encapsulating the experience of moving between cultures and geographies through a space that is open to the individual imagination.
This project is complemented by a collage created by students at Gambold Preparatory Magnet High School of IPS and Enlace Academy on Indy’s west side and facilitated by Big Car teaching artists Megan Hart and Tom Streit. The collage illustrates an array of textures, cultures, and images of foods from Saraga International Grocery Store in the Lafayette Square neighborhood, where 70-plus languages are spoken.
The two collages are themselves visually collaged together, forming a multilayered experience for the viewer. Two versions of the collaboration are featured, installed in the north and south display cases facing Civic Plaza in the ticketing hall.
Valentine was raised in Richmond, Ind., and attended Earlham College. He is an artist, writer, and curator currently based in Berkeley, Calif. His artistic practice frequently uses crowd-sourced and found images to comment on popular culture and the engagement of people with their environment.
Big Car brings art to people and people to art, sparking creativity in lives to transform communities. Its programs boost urban livability, invigorate public places, and support better neighborhoods using an engagement-based arts perspective. One of Big Car’s major programs is Service Center for Community & Culture, a repurposed retail store in the Lafayette Square area that functions as a community gathering place and urban garden.