Many people dream of living in an artfully designed home, but few can claim living publicly inside a fiberglass island created by renowned artist Andrea Zittel. That’s exactly what one student and one new graduate of the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI will be doing for six weeks.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art commissioned Zittel to create Indianapolis Island, a work of art that will float on the 35-acre lake within 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park. Herron 2010 graduate Michael Runge and student Jessica Dunn, who will graduate next May, are preparing for a move-in by the park’s opening day, June 20, 2010.

In keeping with broad themes of Zittel’s work – experimental living and self-sufficiency – Dunn and Runge’s project encompasses fabrication of furnishings, floating gardens, a bicycle generator, a rowboat, periodic performances, an interactive blog and message containers for communication between them and park visitors.

“Working with an artist of Andrea Zittel’s caliber and being part of an inaugural commission at 100 Acres are fantastic opportunities for Herron students,” says Herron Assistant Professor Jennifer Mikulay. “Dunn’s and Runge’s residency will bring Zittel’s island to life. Their project will surely cause people to ponder what it means to make art and make a home.”

Both Runge, who built the project’s floating gardens, and Dunn, who has built furnishings for the habitat, have chronicled the project on their blog site: http://www.imamuseum.org/island/ .
“It’s crazy. So much bigger than anything I’ve done,” says Runge, who earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Herron. “I am learning so much. Every project has built upon itself over these last two years. To be able to work on such a large scale and in collaboration is one of the attractions of Herron.”

Dunn juggled work on the floating message system with the hectic last days of this school year. “When I first heard about the request for proposals in August 2009, I knew I had to do this,” says Dunn, who is concentrating on sculpture and painting at Herron. “I knew I worked well with Michael, so we decided to collaborate on the proposal.”

Artist Zittel and Lisa Freiman, chair of the museum’s contemporary department, selected Dunn and Runge’s proposal from 16 submitted competitively by Herron students. In preparation, the students visited the site and met with Zittel to create a vision for living in Indianapolis Island and interacting with visitors to the park.

The collaboration between the IMA and Herron is the result of a longstanding relationship and the creative talents of Mikulay, who is also Public Scholar of Visual Culture at IUPUI, and sculpture professors Eric Nordgulen, Greg Hull and Holly Streekstra, who constantly seek stretch projects for their students. As a school of IUPUI, Herron supports the university’s aim to bolster education through components including research and experiential learning.

For more information on 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park visit http://www.imamuseum.org/100acres.

For more about the island created by Andrea Zittel, go to: http://blog.art21.org/2010/01/21/the-island-in-100-acres-an-interview-with-andrea-zittel/