Through the Airwaves: The Indiana School of the Sky

We all enjoy our podcasts, niche radio shows, and morning news during the drive to work or school, but the history of radio has a far reaching past beyond our modern version of it. For much of the twentieth century, radio was the entertainment and news medium of choice — not television, and radio has a particularly interesting history here at IU!

Class listening to School of the Sky, Archives image no. P0050223

The Indiana School of the Sky radio program of the Indiana University Department of Radio and Television began broadcasting educational radio programs in 1947 and continued through the early 1960s. The program reached schools throughout Indiana and nearby states and led to new course offerings at IU. IU students performed in the radio programs originally intended for children ages 4-8 which aired for 15 minutes during each school day.

Eventually the program’s popularity called for further programming for high-school students, and later adults tuned in as well.  Topics in every subject from history and music to current events and news were covered during the various episodes of the program.

The School of the Sky series discussed possible careers for students, music and literature, how to find a job, dating and growing up, and current events.  In many ways the program’s subjects seemed to help students learn both educational topics and how to be a part of society.  Other episodes focused on the news and events of the time that were likely difficult for students to understand.

To explain the Cold War and Communism to audiences in 1962, as part of the “How It Happened” series the School of the sky performed a skit about West Germany. From the view of an airplane and from the ground, the actors describe West Berlin as an “island surrounded by Communism.”  The narrator and the characters in the show provide listeners with the history and problematic results of World War II.  Students learned, through the vivid description of the show’s script, the differences between East and West Berlin, Check Point Charlie, and the Berlin Wall.  The picture the program paints shows the effects of Communism and the grim reality in Berlin on the other side of the Wall.  On the ground in West Berlin, the narrator explains that East Berliners have a very different life than West Berliners and the listeners in the United States:

President Wells speaking for the opening of the School of the Sky, Archives image no. P0048605

“The Communists, in fear of having everybody run away to freedom, have built a wall to stop them.  This wall is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.  It is also a very sad thing to see, because behind it are people who want freedom, want to live like you and me, but the wall holds them in.  If they try to get over the wall, the Communists shoot them.  Many young students have died trying to get over into West Berlin.”

The Indiana School of the Sky, 1961-1962, How It Happened Series, Volume 3 of 3. Program #10, Aprill 11, 1962, George Strimel, Jr. Page 96.

The program effectively brought a faraway place and the conflict of the Berlin Wall and Cold War home to the listeners in Indiana.

The students here at IU were the radio show’s writers, performers, and producers. The Indiana School of the Sky eventually reached thousands of classrooms and children while also providing college students with invaluable radio experience.

Oscar winners in “School of the Sky”, Archives image no. P0052037

The bound volumes containing the scripts of the program and the teaching manuals found in the IU Archives’ Indiana School of the Sky records offer enlightening insight into the stage management, acting, and preparation that was necessary for each episode.

In 2009, the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI) at IU found numerous lacquer discs containing recordings of The School of the Sky. These are now digitized and available online through Media Collections Online.

The Alma Eikerman papers

The Alma Eikerman papers are now organized and available for research! If you don’t remember, the collection came to us in pretty rough shape; you can read about in my blog post from a few months ago.

Born in 1908, Eikerman was a well-respected artist and professor who taught in the School of Fine Arts (now the School of Art + Design) at Indiana University from 1947 to 1978. Known for her innovative metalsmithing, she was a vital force behind the development of the program at IU. Her work appeared in numerous exhibitions during her lifetime and now resides in private collections and museums across the country, including the Smithsonian and our own IU Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Passports of Alma Eikerman
Passports of Alma Eikerman

The Eikerman papers includes a wealth of material documenting Eikerman and her life. Included are papers from her extensive travels such as tickets, maps, itineraries, brochures, notes she took while on trips, and her passports with stamps of the countries she visited.

Her correspondence includes not only professional missivesSome letter sent to Alma but also many personal letters, such as post cards Eikerman sent to her parents while she was working for the American Red Cross and a letter from her grandfather from around 1916. Eikerman also sent annual newsletters to her former students to keep everyone updated on each other, demonstrating her dedication to and interest in her students.

The photographs in this collection are my personal favorites and include slides, negatives and prints spanning her entire life, personal and professional. Also, can we all just agree that Alma Eikerman was incredibly Pictures of Alma photogenic?

Lastly, and perhaps most important to those familiar with her work as an artist, is the part of the collection that relates to metalsmithing. Here researchers can find notes, receipts for materials, price estimates, sale tickets, as well as preparatory sketches of her work in various Sketches from Alma's papersstates of development – some hardly more than doodles while others are detailed sketches of a piece complete with notes.

Contact the IU Archives to schedule an appointment to view the Eikerman collection!

The Saga of the Alma Eikerman papers

Photo of Alma EikermanAlma Eikerman was a successful metalsmith, an innovative jewelry designer, world traveler, and beloved professor at Indiana University from 1947 to 1978. She was in countless exhibitions, won many awards, and her work today is in numerous museums across the country including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the Indiana University Art Museum (IUAM) on campus. As in intern at the IU Archives this semester, this was all pretty intimidating but I was thrilled to be given the opportunity arrange and describe Eikerman’s papers as part of my internship. I was already familiar with her work through the IUAM, where I also currently work as an hourly in the Registrar department. 

I was eager to dive in. I knew people loved her and respected her, but most of the items in the file were from other people’s point of view. I wanted to learn more about her.  Of course the best way to do this would be to actually meet her, but unfortunately Eikerman passed away in 1995. The next best thing, would be to go through the documents she collected during her lifetime.

Some collections come to the IU Archives neatly organized and labeled in alphabetized folders – the Eikerman papers were the opposite.  Sadly, it was as if whoever boxed them up, merely pulled out the drawers of her desk, turned them upside down, and dumped the contents into 12 Rubbermaid bins. It is my job to create some sort of order out of this chaos so that a researcher can come and use the papers in a timely fashion. I learned a lot about Eikerman as I went through the first few tubs. For instance, she traveled around the world (shown by her multiple tickets, receipts, guidebooks, maps and passports). She kept in touch with her former students and tried to follow their careers (shown through the newsletters she sent them and copies of publicity from their exhibitions), and designed her own home (seen by the designs she drew and the magazine clippings she marked).

A glimpse of the unprocessed Alma Eikerman Collection
A glimpse of the unprocessed Alma Eikerman Collection

I am now more than 3 weeks deep into this collection, and I feel that I have only scratched the surface. I find a messy collection like this exciting, with a new surprise in every box. I may sound like a commercial for those children’s cereals with a toy inside, but it is so true. I will be sifting through what seems like a thousand years worth of holiday cards and then SURPRISE there is letter she wrote to her grandfather when she was about nine or one of her passports with stamps from all over Asia.      

The whole process is fun, but it is also exhausting. I was starting to get a little overwhelmed and blurry eyed. I have all these piles of items that are similar, and I have taken over the back room storage room of the IU Archives. Then I came across an incredible find, a travel permission form from when she served with the Red Cross in the 1940s. Where does this go?!?! I sat there looking at my piles with this fragile, old paper resting in my hand for probably five minutes.  

My domination of the back room
My domination of the back room

After this blog break, I’m headed back to the collection to hopefully uncover more treasures. I hope to have the collection fairly well organized by the end of this semester; watch for more information here or contact the IU Archives. In the meantime if you’re interested in other artist’s papers, you might like those of printmaker Rudy Pozzatti, textile artist Joan Sterrenburg, or sculptors Karl Martz and Jean-Paul Darriau.

Artistic Legacy of Sculptor Jean-Paul Darriau Lives on in Bloomington

Although you many not know Jean-Paul Darriau’s name, if you live in Bloomington, you have likely seen his work.

Darriau, Associate Professor of Sculpture at IU from 1961-1996, earned his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Minnesota in 1954. He received two Fulbright grants, which allowed him to spend two years working in bronze casting techniques at the Istituto d’Arte in Florence and the Guastini Foundry in Pistoria. During his career, his work was presented nationally and internationally at museums such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Joseph Hirschorn Collection in Washington, D.C. Several of those repositories, including the Indiana University Art Museum, retain examples of his sculpture as part of their permanent collections.

Today, Darriau’s art remains on display in Bloomington. Cast in bronze in 1965, “The Space Between: Adam and Eve” (seen below) is situated at the edge of Dunn Woods just behind Kirkwood Hall on the IU campus.  In May 2011, a storm with severe winds damaged both figures. Their pedestals shifted, and a fallen tree limb caused a dent in Adam’s head. The figures were restored in 2012.

Titled “The Space Between: Adam and Eve,” the sculptures are located on IU’s Bloomington campus.
Clay model of “Adam” and “Eve” before being cast into bronze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A second piece “Red, Blond, Black, and Olive,” consisting of two 11-ton slabs of limestone carved with faces depicting the racial diversity in Bloomington, resides on the city’s Northside in Miller-Showers Park.

________ examines the partially completed sculpture.
Miller examines the partially completed sculpture.

According to the City of Bloomington, the sculpture was chosen through a competition judged by a committee of artists, businessmen, Bloomington citizens and Mayor Francis X. McCloskey. It is considered the initial achievement of Bloomington’s Community Arts Commission. After being situated in the center of Miller-Showers Park for 22 years, “Red, Blonde, Black and Olive” was relocated to its current plaza in 2002.

The City’s website explains the significance of the piece:

The finishing touches are added to sculpture, which today sits at the north end of Miller-Showers Park in Bloomington.
The finishing touches are added to sculpture, which today sits at the north end of Miller-Showers Park in Bloomington.

Aptly representing the diverse population of Bloomington, the two statues have four faces between them. Each face features a different major world race. Viewed from one side, the faces of an Asiatic woman and African woman stare at each other. An Indian man and Nordic man are face-to-face on the other side. The piece is meant to promote and celebrate communication across racial lines, and work towards universal understanding among people. The gap between the two columns is as important as the faces themselves. It is the space where conversation takes place, people come together and truths are revealed.

Darriau’s papers, housed in the University Archives, contain his published articles and correspondence as well as two boxes of photographs and slides with extensive images documenting his work, exhibitions, as well as his travels. All of the photographs in this post come from the collection.

 

 

Indiana University’s Grunwald Gallery of Art

The Grunwald Gallery of Art, formerly the School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery, presents contemporary works by both professional and student artists in a special exhibition format. The SoFA Gallery began in 1983 when the IU Art Museum moved to its new building and vacated over 5,200 square feet of exhibit space. The first few years of the Gallery featured intermittent shows curated by faculty in studio and art history until 1987, when the University established a part-time gallery director position.

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In 2011, the SoFA Gallery was renamed the Grunwald Gallery of Art in honor of John A. Grunwald, thanks to a significant endowed gift from his widow, Rita Grunwald. John A. Grunwald (1935-2006) was born in Budapest, Hungary, to Jewish parents. He survived the Holocaust in Europe, and came to New York in 1950. Grunwald graduated with a degree in Economics from Indiana University in 1956, and met his wife Rita during that time. Both Mr. and Mrs. Grunwald were deeply interested in art, and frequently attended SoFA Gallery openings, exhibitions, and discussions. Rita Grunwald worked in the Fine Arts building for about 25 years, both in the Bookshop, and also as a Friend of the Art member.

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Today, the mission of the Grunwald Gallery is to present contemporary art by significant regional and nationally known artists, as well as by faculty and students within the school. Exhibits incorporate art from a variety of contemporary genres and approaches, and can be experimental or traditional. The Gallery is conceived as a visual arts laboratory with artists participating in the installation of their works and interaction with students and the public is encouraged.

 

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As the Grunwald Gallery frequently collaborates with artists, scientists and scholars, this results in the production of exhibits that interpret visual art in a broader scientific or humanities context. The temporary exhibit format provides the Gallery with flexibility to respond to opportunities and directions in the contemporary art world, allowing programming to evolve based on current trends and directions. The Gallery hosts over thirty exhibits annually of students from Indiana University’s Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, focusing on work by advanced undergraduate, BFA and MFA students.

The Grunwald Gallery collection contains exhibition publicity materials like calendars, oversize posters, and pamphlets, slides, and audio/visual materials like audio-cassettes, video-cassettes, and DVDs of lectures, exhibitions, and interviews, all of which can be accessed in the University Archives. Contact an Archivist for more information!