Stories from the Indiana Art Fair

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Two artists at the upcoming Indiana Art Fair shared how their work has brought meaning to their lives and the lives of others.

The 15th Annual Indiana Art Fair will take place Saturday, Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Indiana State Museum. Photographs, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, fiber art and glasswork will be among the types of pieces that Hoosier artists will display and sell at the event.

Liz McColm, a juried member of Indiana Artisans, is one of the artists whose glasswork will be featured at the event.

“I like to produce things that hopefully spark an emotion in the people that view my work,” McColm said in a phone interview. “I like to use Mother Nature as kind of my inspiration for my palette and also my form.”

One of Chuck Bruce's pieces, courtesy of Indiana Artisans.

McColm worked as a graphic designer for 30 years before she dedicated herself to making fused glass art.

“Part of what got me into this, where I was really hardcore wanting to do it full-time was, I was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and I wasn’t supposed to live, but I did,” McColm said.

“And this was kind of like my therapy for that, to get me through all the chemo and radiation and stuff, so I would say that was a challenge I overcame.”

McColm’s interest was first sparked growing up in Columbus, IN, where she met widely renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

“I told myself hopefully one day I’d be able to produce some glass, because I just love the look of it, I love the light reflection on it, I love all the different colors you can work with,” McColm said.

“With glass it’s kind of one of those things where you can do a bunch of different techniques, but in the end, it’s all up to the glass, whether or not it will cooperate with you. It’s a combination of sand and fire.”

McColm believes that the Indiana Art Fair represents a part of a broader shift in the state towards supporting the arts.

“Growing up in Columbus, the difference between say, the 1960s and the 1970s for an artist, Indiana wasn’t really that supportive of the arts,” McColm said. “We ended up moving out to California and had our kids there and we lived there for ten years. And when we came back in the mid-1990s, I noticed such a big difference with Indiana supporting the arts more.”

One of the artists that has benefitted from what McColm sees as a newfound support for the arts in Indiana is Chuck Bruce.

Bruce is a regional inlay artist and silversmith whose work will be featured at the event.

“I’m one of the few local rock guys,” Bruce said in a phone interview.

Bruce got his start when his “better half” took a glass course at the Indianapolis Art Center and asked if there was anything Bruce would be interested in taking as well. Bruce would learn not only silverwork, but the impact his craft could have on other people’s lives.

“I had a husband and wife commission me for my first gold commission about eight, or closer to nine, years ago,” Bruce said. “When they picked it up, she cried.”

Bruce said he didn’t think much about that for years, until he happened to come across her again.

“I saw her at the Carmel Art Fair about four years after and she says ’you never will know what this bracelet means to me’,” Bruce said.

She explained to Bruce that her husband had been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. The bracelet became a way for her to remember him.

“It made me change my view of my own work,” Bruce said. “I need to take myself out of the work and create what I find truly beautiful, and other people will put their meaning on it.”

Liz McColm and Chuck Bruce are two of the more than sixty Hoosier artists that will have their art displayed at the Indiana Art Fair. New to the event is the Emerging Artist Expo, an event where most of the artists will be publicly displaying their art for the first time according to the Indiana State Museum.

According to the Visit Indiana tourism website, proceeds from the event go to support public and school programs. Admission to the event is charged and included with the purchase of general museum admission. The event is presented by Old National Bank and the City of Indianapolis.

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