As a humanities student, I spent most of my time in the older parts of campus. But when time permitted, I’d often walk past the huge red sculpture outside the Jacobs School of Music’s Musical Arts Center (MAC). The piece—famous American sculptor Alexander Calder’s Peau Rouge Indiana—was created by Calder specifically for its location in front of the MAC in the 1970s.
When I was a kid, I read Blue Balliett’s novel The Calder Game, which is a mystery about a Calder sculpture. After that, I became obsessed with Calder’s iconic mobiles, which are located in many museums throughout the country, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields and the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University. Truthfully, I don’t remember much of The Calder Game’s plot, but it gave me a new lens through which to see the world and meaning to inscribe upon otherwise-distant pieces of art.
So this is what I think about whenever I walk past Peau Rouge Indiana on Jordan Avenue (and why I love the sculpture so much): the Calder mobiles I’ve seen elsewhere in Indiana; the nostalgia of a comfortable childhood book; and how I can’t possibly encounter Peau Rouge Indiana without remembering how Calder has popped up unexpectedly in other parts of my life. Such is the domain of public art: it becomes a part of our routines and personal histories, inextricable from the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. I hope Peau Rouge Indiana forms a part of the story of your time at IU, just as it did for me.