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At the University of Indianapolis, the Social Practice Art Program Builds a Community Network

Libraries, quilts, and instant cameras become transformative tools to enrich people’s lives.

Linnea Gartin, The Carol Jean Project

Social Practice Art graduate students at the University of Indianapolis are connecting with the past and present through creative community engagement projects.

Lauren Ditchley ’18 recently partnered with an Indianapolis-based pretzel bakery and the Indianapolis Public Library to create “Pretzel/Pencil/Picture,” a self-guided tour of her own Midtown neighborhood. The project incorporated concepts related to walkability and documentation. Local families were thrilled to participate — and Ditchley provided them with an instant photo for posterity.

“I designed the tour to provide a sense of play within an everyday setting. The intention was to spark joy and creativity in the participants and leave them with a physical image to recall the experience,” Ditchley explained.

Ditchley’s project emphasizes the immersive experience of the University of Indianapolis Social Practice Art graduate program. Students participate in a year-long, cohort-based program with significant time spent on and off campus, including the flexibility to complete the thesis outside of Indianapolis.

Linnea Gartin ’18 is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she works as a program manager for ArtWorks, an arts-related non-profit organization. Gartin, who uses fiber art to engage the public, realized she wasn’t meant to stay inside the studio.“I was drawn to the Social Practice Art program at UIndy because I wanted to be better at the community engagement that was involved in the work I was doing for ArtWorks,” Gartin said. “As I continue through the program, I have found that social practice was always the direction I saw myself in.”

Learn more about the University of Indianapolis Social Practice Art program.