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July 29, 2013
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Nice Grants Update: Earth Art Labyrinth

July 29, 2013

Earlier this year, we put out a call for entrepreneurs, start-ups, artists, and the like, offering up five no-strings-attached grants of $1,000 each. Our only request was permission to follow-up on the progress of the funded projects. And thus: Nice Grants were born!

When local artist Barbara Zech found out out that she was one of our Nice Grants recipients, her immediate excitement gave way to the anxiety that she would have to deliver on her vision of an "Earth Art Labyrinth." Zech, a contemporary ceramic artist by training, had experimented with small labyrinths in the past, but never anything on the scale of her proposal.

Nice Grants director Kasey Bradley said, "SmallBox has a long history of supporting the arts through institutions like Musical Family Tree. However, we would like to have as much involvement in Indy's visual arts community. I think Zech's concept of the labyrinth as a tool for educating the community is one that really speaks to our core values of collaboration and cultivating culture."

A couple of weeks ago, Bradley and I met Zech at the Indianapolis Art Center, where she was meeting with the grounds crew to stake out a space and finalize measurements for her installation. She chose a circular patch of grass nestled in the corner of the center's Artspark. With the final preparations in place, Zech is ready to start building.


On Saturday, August 3, Zech will lead a pop-up workshop where participants will assist in the installation of the earth work in the Artspark, using raw clay and mulch. Due to some tasks that require heavy lifting, the workshop is available to participants ages 15 and up. As well as assisting in the installation of the "Earth Art Labyrinth," workshop participants will learn how to design a traditional labyrinth, using concepts that can be applied in their own garden, or on a smaller scale. Check out a tentative plan for the workshop below.

Workshop Plans:

Attendees will meet inside a classroom where Zech will introduce and discuss the labyrinth in world history, art, community, celebratory, healing, and spiritual settings. Participants will look at examples of earth art by well-known artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long. Zech will discuss temporary art versus permanent public art and land art. She will also show participants how to draw a traditional, three and seven circuit labyrinth. The remaining time will be spent outdoors, installing the structure itself.

If all goes to plan, the Earth Art Labyrinth should be ready for unveiling on August 9, at the IAC's open house. IAC has agreed to keep this piece installed until Spring 2014. At that point, the center will decide whether to re-vamp the materials for longevity or to remove the installation and reseed the area. For more info on Zech, check out her awesome interview with Sky Blue Window and scope more of her amazing work at her website.