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Art exhibit offers insights into movement to recognize 100th Indy 500 race

May 24, 2016

Several artists, including Herron School of Art and Design faculty member Danielle Riede, have their work on display at an exhibit in Indianapolis that takes as its theme the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

The name of the show, "Asphaltum," makes the connection between these two very different worlds: It is named for a component used both in pavement and in artists' materials. In this case, Asphaltum is bringing together artists with work that expresses ideas related to auto racing and the Indianapolis 500.

Riede wingspan art piece

Danielle Riede of the Herron School of Art and Design created this piece for an exhibit connected to speed and movement, celebrating the 100th Indianapolis 500.

The exhibit is at the Schwitzer Gallery on the second floor of the Circle City Industrial Complex, at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and 10th Street. The facility was constructed in the 1920s by Louis Schwitzer, winner of the first automobile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the engineer behind the famous "Marmon Wasp" engine that propelled Ray Harroun to victory in the first Indy 500.

"Last year, I went to the Indy 500 for the first time and experienced the race," said Riede, a painter/installation artist and an associate professor at Herron. "I was really blown away by the sheer speed of it, so much so that I almost felt like I was in a video game. It was just really shocking to me."

"When I went, I really couldn't believe it. I think maybe if you have grown up going to the race, maybe it wouldn't feel so impactful, although I can't presume to know how other people might feel about the race," Riede said. "But it's nearly impossible when you're up so close to focus on the cars zooming by."

The pieces Riede is showing are from her "Wingspan" series. Like the auto race, the pieces are about movement, but movement on a human scale. And in contrast to the video-game-like speeds of the race cars, the paintings are made quite slowly, she said.

Describing the paintings, Riede said the images have a lot to do with the scale of her own body to the frame of the canvas. "And the way I composed them is by coming up with a movement, so I don't have a preconceived image," she said.

The movements were inspired by a dancer Riede worked with last fall.

"I begin with an intuitive movement off of the canvas and then record that same movement in paint. This gesture morphs as I move across the surface of the painting and an image unfolds.

"In some way, my paintings look a little like the curve of a racetrack, but that's not what I had in mind when I was making them," she said. "So, to me, it's more about the contrast of human scale or even the feasibility that someone could fly around the track so quickly in these amazing machines versus what your hands could do with an older tool, like a paintbrush."

"I guess I sort of see my own body as a tool as well, for making these works," she said. "What we can invent -- these technological devices to propel us at different velocities versus what we can do on our own -- is a really interesting point for me."

Asphaltum will run through May 31.

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