April 26th, 2013

May we have your Emma Converse painting?

by Emily Vanest


The daffodils have bloomed on Delaware, our tulip tree is in flower here at the Harrison Center, we have broken out our summer sandals, and spring finally seems to be here to stay.  For our local university students, spring means that the end of the school year is nigh and for senior art students, their senior shows.

We first met University of Indianapolis senior and studio art major, Emma Converse, last year when she naively agreed to coordinate the Harrison Center’s 11th annual Independent Music and Art Festival (IMAF).  Converse booked bands, invited artists, and seamlessly coordinated our biggest event of the year, attended by over 7000 people. However, one look at her paintings convinced the Harrison Center staff that Emma also was an extraordinarily talented painter and we wanted her paintings of Indianapolis at night to be in the City Gallery during IMAF.  Visitors and patrons loved her work, and by the end of the day she had sold almost every painting, and received 8 commissions and an offer for a solo show.

But Emma is an undergraduate student who now has a senior show to produce (coming up next week) and almost no work to put in it . . . because it has all sold.  So, one of my jobs this week was to collect her work from her buyers so that she can have something to hang.  And, wow!  People love their Emma Converse.  Everyone was reluctant to part with their pieces, even for a couple of weeks and one person I asked, simply replied, “No.  Absolutely not.”  That painting had become a centerpiece, conversation starter, and the focal point of the house, a most treasured object.  One by one the enchanting paintings have come in, lovingly wrapped and carried by their proud owners, and I understand what the fuss was about.

city forest

We are lucky, in Indianapolis, to have several great university art programs, where art students are already producing outstanding work.  This month we have had the privilege of showing Print and Thread, the textile work of Herron School of Art + Design seniors Rachael Rush and Liz Wagoner, in the Hank and Dolly Gallery.  Liz’s meticulously detailed silk screens and Rachael’s pieces honoring her aging grandmother are particularly moving for me.

We congratulate Indianapolis’s newly graduating artists, some of whose work will be hung in the Harrison Center in the next couple of months.  Let’s buy their work now while we can afford it, thankful for the next generation of artist leaders in our city.