Harrison Center for the Arts
In 2002 and 2003 the Limner Society partnered with the Harrison Center for the Arts for the Limner exhibitions. The Harrison Center, at that time, was directly linked to Redeemer Presbyterian Church and used its resources of gallery space, personnel and connections in the church community and the arts community to create well-executed and well-attended exhibitions. The establishment of the Harrison Center gave legitimacy to the exhibition and the quality of work from the Limner Gathering proved to be a boon for their exhibition schedule.
This was the first two years of tLS’s existence, and working with the Harrison Center on the logistics of hanging the shows, documentation, and silent auction protocols were eased by the collaboration.
Joanna Taft, Executive Director, brought professionalism to the event that allowed a great partnership between tLS and Harrison for the Limner Society’s first two exhibitions. The volunteer staff of the Harrison Center provided necessary support for the event. The space was a designated gallery space, well lit and clean. Overall, both exhibitions were a success and both tLS and the Harrison Center benefited.
This collaboration set the standard tLS uses to seek partnerships with gallery spaces for its Gathering exhibitions. The model exhibited in the show and silent auction at the Harrison Center in 2002 and 2003 remains the foundation. tLS couldn’t have asked for a better partner for its first two years.
The Harrison Center was and is, however, more than just an exhibition space. In 2002-03 it served emerging artists by offering affordable studio spaces to create work and artist support groups to build community. Its involvement in the exhibitions with tLS helped the Harrison Center in its early years learn how to create events that evoke public conversation and become a catalyst for change in the community.
In 2003 the Harrison Center for the Arts became a separate entity from Redeemer, allowing it the freedom to expand its programming in the broader community and to be governed by a board that includes neighbors and non-Redeemer constituents. The relationship between the two organizations is synergistic as the congregation supports the Harrison Center’s work with emerging artists and emerging patrons. The congregation actively attends gallery openings, purchases art, and finds other creative ways to support the artists. One family took in an artist and provided housing for 3 years.
The Harrison Center’s presence in the Redeemer-owned building has spurred on creativity and attracted artists—who have since collaborated on church sponsored installations/classes/programming. The Redeemer community has also benefited from the cultural development the Harrison Center has promoted in the neighborhood. The Harrison Center started as a charter high school in 2006, designed to grow a new generation of art patrons. By the fall of 2009, the school had 450 students in grades 9-12. The school, in its short three-year history, has won numerous academic accolades and renovated a significant historic site. In addition, the Harrison Center’s growth has allowed for upgrades in sections of the building, development of thought-provoking exhibits, and has become a well-established home for the arts in Indianapolis. All of this has benefited Redeemer.
The Harrison Center for the Arts now calls itself a cultural development corporation—solving community problems with cultural solutions. Exhibiting art, building community, and launching projects that lead to the healing of the neighborhood keeps the Harrison Center busy and provides many avenues for Redeemer members to plug in and serve, find their place in the cultural dialogue, and have their voices heard in the shaping of culture.
Case Study: Roosevelt Community Church
In 2005 the Limner Society partnered with Roosevelt Community Church for a Limner exhibition titled “Sabbath.” Roosevelt long had a vision to reach the arts community through the use of our building, in particular through displaying exhibitions during the First Friday Artwalk in downtown Phoenix. The Artwalk event draws several thousand people to the downtown Phoenix area, who come to visit various galleries, studios, and businesses. This event is a particularly prime opportunity for our church to engage our community through the arts; however, when we first acquired the building, we lacked the necessary modifications to do suitable exhibitions. Up until our partnership with tLS, much of what we did was poorly lit and arranged. This is now no longer the case! The Limner Society donated funds toward improving our space, which included the gracious donation and installation of gallery lighting and a picture rail in one of our larger rooms. This improvement radically upgraded our ability to do exhibitions in our space and thus our ability to effectively engage our community through the arts. We saw the immediate effects of their efforts during the “Sabbath” exhibition. Almost overnight our room became one of the largest artspaces in the immediate area. Countless people came through and were stimulated, inspired, and challenged by the artwork. Several people began attending our Sunday morning worship services after visiting our artspace and are now part of our church community.
In the wake of the Limner exhibition, we established an ongoing ministry called Artist Guild. The aim of this ministry is to engage people with the Christian worldview through the arts. Our key tool in this effort has been our artspace. Since 2005 our space has played host to numerous art exhibits, music performances, poetry slams, and even break-dancing competitions! We have continued to make improvements to the artspace over the years and hope to see the space became a true destination spot, open daily, where people can meet and interact with each other and explore the truth of God, especially as revealed in Jesus Christ. Indeed, all our efforts in this area are done with the hope and prayer that they help people, wherever they are in their spiritual journey, begin to think more truly and understand more truly their own lives, the world in which they live, and the God who created it all. We are truly thankful for how the Lord used the Limners to help advance this mission and pray that he continues to use them to bless many other local churches for his glory and the good of many people.—Vermon Pierre