Indiana University Northwest School of the Arts takes art on the road with Region pop-up labs

Indiana University Northwest School of the Arts takes art on the road with Region pop-up labs

Life is largely about adapting to changes, and this year has certainly presented more than its fair share of challenges. With so many events and venues being closed or restricted due to COVID-19 and government-mandated social distancing requirements, many of the familiar avenues for cultural enrichment and entertainment have been unavailable. Others, like Indiana University Northwest School of the Arts, have chosen to adapt to the times, bringing art out of buildings and into local communities through a network of scheduled pop-up community labs, with the most recent one set to coincide with the grand re-opening of the newly-renovated 3rd Street bridge in Hobart.

“Dean David Klamen and I were talking over this past summer about how we might transform the notion of galleries and museums,” said Lauren Pacheco, Director of Arts Programming and Engagement for School of the Arts at Indiana University Northwest. “Due to the Coronavirus, many facilities were closed, and people were understandably very hesitant to visit enclosed spaces, so we began to envision what the School of the Arts might look like, if we were able to take it out to the communities.”

Interactive Art Display at IUN 2020

Interactive Art Display at IUN 2020 25 Photos
Interactive Art Display at IUN 2020Interactive Art Display at IUN 2020Interactive Art Display at IUN 2020Interactive Art Display at IUN 2020

“This is a project several months in the making, with this event here in Hobart as the third and final for the year,” she said. “We will take a few months off for the winter, then we will pick up again in the springtime, beginning with our residence at the Chesterton Art Center in February 2021.”

Pacheco said that community response to the program has been welcoming.

“We were very happy to see several young students stop by today to engage with our displays, our interactive wall and some of our games, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.”

Betty Funkhouser, who teaches Physical Education and Health at Hobart Middle School, brought several of her students out to see the exhibits.

“We’ve been going on fitness walks, avoiding using equipment to prevent contamination,” said Funkhouser. “I’ve been bringing my students down here as a way of getting them out of the classroom, and we have watched this whole development of the new bridge and the lakefront area for months.”

“It was just a bonus that we were able to come down here today and see not only the grand re-opening of the bridge, but these exhibits too. They were able to see that art is so much more than just drawing pictures on pieces of paper. Art can be very interactive, so it’s really creative and they really enjoyed it.”

Perhaps one of the most entertaining exhibits was the creative musical talent of Joe Rauen. Rauen plays a variety of homemade musical instruments that he has created by recycling and repurposing hand tools, scraps and miscellaneous items.

“The idea is that I take these found pieces, and I re-imagine them into functioning musical instruments that I can then use to play music for people,” Rauen said.

“I don’t like categories or boundaries. I don’t see the separation between music and art and sculpture,” he said. “I never really felt the distinction between those forms of art, so this is just a development of that concept.”

Rauen says that, so far, his collection of hand-made instruments numbers roughly two dozen.

“Each one has a niche that it fills. Each one is a tool in my arsenal.”

Not to be limited to arts, Indiana University Northwest plans to also incorporate other departments from business to biology and more into future pop-up events across the Region.

For more information about the School of the Arts at IU Northwest, visit them online at