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Seeing Is Rediscovering What's Hiding In Plain Sight

Since Ivy Tech Community College acquired the John Waldron Art Center last year, there has been a concerted effort to raise awareness about the new relationship.

Ivy Tech Waldron Gallery Director Julie Roberts knows that it’s taking some time for locals to get the connection between the statewide community college system and the art center, which for many years was managed by the Bloomington Area Arts Council.

Flying Under The Radar

"Ivy Tech does such amazing things that fly under the radar for most of the people in the city limits," Roberts explained. "And at the same time, we're doing wonderful artistic things at the Waldron that fly under the radar for students on the west side."

So Roberts brainstormed artistic solutions for bridging the gap. Ironically, the way she proposed to connect the campuses was with a multi-site installation of art that could, itself, fly under the radar.

"There is no frame anywhere, around anything!" joked Roberts about the results.

The works of art commissioned for the city-wide exhibition were made by Dylan DeWitt, an artist new to Bloomington whose work Julie encountered during the 2010 call for entries. Although Dylan holds a BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale, the works he created for this installation are neither paintings nor prints, and they're definitely not illustrations. Dubbed In Plain Sight, the installation’s full title might be "An Artwork Is Hiding Right Here In Plain Sight."

Re-engaging With The Visible World

Walking down a fairly mundane corridor in the B Wing of Ivy Tech’s main campus building, for example, you might or might not notice the randomly spaced turquoise floor tiles—which were part of the existing interior design scheme—until they start creeping off the floor to the surrounding walls and windows.

"When you start to paint," muses DeWitt, "you see how the light, for example, is making a color on the wall, and you learn to see a lot of things you hadn’t seen before, or at least hadn’t endowed with legitimacy as something to be paid attention to. Perfunctory things begin to be potentially  interesting experiences, because you’re looking for them now."

DeWitt hopes to heighten awareness even for the student trudging down the hallway to class. "In a painting anything that happens with the rectangle is part of it; anything else is not. When you know you’re going to see art you turn on your art-like ways of seeing, and when you leave, you’re done, so you turn them off again. So you miss a lot of potentially incredible experiences because you’ve turned off that part of your perception."

From the mischievous blue squares in Ivy Tech’s main campus building, you may proceed to five other sites—on the west side and at the Waldron—where your consciousness will get a jog in the most banal places and situations.

Post No Bills

Here, delight is camouflaged in the cloak of the everyday, whether you’re waiting for the elevator, trudging down the hall to class, or passing a bulletin board crammed with multi-colored flyers that read as so much visual chaos.

"If you really want someone to see  something," noted DeWitt, "don't put it on a bulletin board!"

It should come as no surprise then, that DeWitt has chosen the bulletin board, a place meant to attract attention but normally failing to do so, as the site to re-engage attention. I won’t spoil the surprise, but be forewarned that the way he’s done it is so subtle it easily escapes notice. Which is the whole point.

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