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'Home' at the heart of Spirit & Place

November 1, 2016

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."   — Maya Angelou

Home isn't just a place; it's a state of mind, a touchstone that allows people to reconnect with family and friends. In short, Pam Blevins Hinkle considers it a perfect theme for the 2016 Spirit & Place Festival.

Hinkle is the director of Spirit & Place, which will celebrate its 21st year in events running Nov. 4-13, each emphasizing the importance of "home" as denoted by Maya Angelou.

The 2016 festival is an official legacy project of the Indiana Bicentennial. It will feature 40 events, most in the Indianapolis area.

As part of the festival, the IUPUI Senior Academy will partner with five Indianapolis organizations to present a unique event called "My Home, My Earth, My Responsibility." It will feature a multimedia format including art displays, exhibits and presentations that provide insights into how our concepts of home interconnect in complex, diverse, fragile and transient ways.

IUPUI is also involved in other Spirit & Place events, including:

Dates, times and sites for IUPUI-related events are listed in the information box (right).

Homeless Jesus creator Timothy Schmalz

Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz touches up one of his creations. The artwork is similar to his sculpture "Homeless Jesus," located outside of Roberts Park United Methodist Church in downtown Indianapolis, depicting Jesus as a homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Schmalz is one of the featured guests at this month's Spirit & Place Festival.

Matthew Desmond

Author Matthew Desmond | Photo By Michael Kienitz

Spirit & Place signature event

The annual festival culminates in the Public Conversation, Spirit & Place's signature event. This year's discussion is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 Central Ave., and will feature an academician and author, a working artist, and an Indianapolis community leader:

Allison Luthe

Community leader Allison Luthe


  • Matthew Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, recipient of a MacArthur Genius award and New York Times bestselling author of the book "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in an American City"
  • Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, creator of "Homeless Jesus," a sculpture located outside of Roberts Park United Methodist Church in downtown Indianapolis
  • Indianapolis civic leader Allison Luthe, executive director of the Martin Luther King Community Center

Terri Jett of Butler University will serve as the moderator. Jett is the board president of the ACLU of Indiana and a member of the Indiana Debate Commission.

The event is free, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged because visitor space is limited.

This year's Spirit & Place schedule includes one event already sold out, "An Evening with Elizabeth Strout," but the remaining available events offer a glimpse of different facets of civic life in Indianapolis.

Festival history

The Spirit & Place Festival first took place in 1996 and is managed by The Polis Center, part of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. It was designed as a catalyst for civic engagement by encouraging collaborations among the arts, humanities and religion.

The festival connects IUPUI with the community, discussing themes that explore life in our community. The goal of Spirit & Place is to open minds, touch hearts, build bridges and help citizens move forward in new ways, both individually and collectively.

Throughout its two decades of community service, Spirit & Place has covered many themes. But recent festivals have concentrated on such themes as "dream," "journey," "risk" and "play" -- simple words that provide a broad canvas for community partners to use in studying life in Indianapolis.

"This is our fifth year using one-word themes," said Hinkle. "It has become a creative tradition that gives all of us latitude to explore ideas that shape life in our community. It is really exciting to see these ideas come to fruition."

Note: This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting IUPUI's Strategic Plan initiatives.

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