Powerful storytelling, films and interactive events part of 2018 Festival

The 2018 Spirit & Place Festival will be held from Nov. 2-11. The festival this year will explore the theme of “intersections.” Intersecting lines can be found anywhere from the cross and cloverleaf, to crossroads and connections. They represent collective creativity and deeper understanding, as well as points of division or conflict.

There will be 32 unique events this year that will take place across 27 venues and feature a variety of presenters, speakers and performers. The festival this year has events with powerful storytelling aspects. These events are interactive and allow attendees to share their story with the community.

Visit the website at www.spiritandplace.org for the full festival lineup, including these discussions below:


Sunday, November 4, 1:30—3 p.m.
Two Truths & a Lie: The Intersection of Fact and Fiction
Presented by Indiana Historical Society; American Indian Center of Indiana, Inc.; and Kennedy King Memorial Center
Indiana History Center—450 W. Ohio St.

It is tempting to think history is nothing but names, dates, and deceased subjects. Not true! In reality, history is a dynamic subject constantly evolving as historians find new sources. But how do we discern what is true when sources sometimes deliberately lie to us? When do we slip from fact to fiction? Through the guise of a lighthearted game, this event will challenge participants to examine the intersection of fact and fiction through rounds of storytelling and source interpretation that the audience gets to vote on.


Sunday, November 4, 4—5:30 p.m.
A Dance of Wisdom Tales and Tunes
Presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Spiritual Center
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church—100 W. 86th St.
Cost: $10

A blend of metaphors and “wisdom tales,” like the tale of Naked Truth and Parable, will be discussed while incorporating music. These tales will encourage attendees to reflect on their own personal histories and faith as a way to clarify their thoughts and beliefs.


Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Hummus & Happiness
Indiana Interchurch Center—1100 W. 42nd St.
Presented by CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Muslim Alliance of Indiana, Jewish Community Relations Council and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hummus & Happiness is an event that encourages our audience to consider how film and food can create spaces for the exploration of complex issues and diverse viewpoints. Guests are invited to a hummus-tasting competition, where you can sample (and then vote on) hummus recipes from around the world, prepared by local hummus-makers, who will share their narrative and the story of their recipe. The winner will be announced after the film screening of “Life and Hummus,” followed by a short panel discussion and audience Q&A.


Wednesday, November 7, 6—8 p.m. (Purple Line)
Saturday, November 10, 9—11 a.m. (Blue Line)
Sunday, November 11, 1—3 p.m. (Red Line)
Presented by IndyGo, Marian University Writing Center, and IndyReads
Stories of Indianapolis Transit
Various Meet-Up Locations 

This interactive and on-the-move storytelling event features transit riders on the busses they use. Participants will meet at one of three different locations depending on the day. Each workshop focuses on a different rapid transit corridor that will be in operation by 2022. Attendees will then hop on a bus to hear from transit users and others before settling in for a storytelling workshop at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center. At the Transit Center, participants will craft their own community-focused tales. Bus fare is included with registration.


Thursday, November 8, 6:30—8:30 p.m.
Jewish and . . .
Presented by Jewish Community Relations Council, Storytelling Arts of Indiana, IndyFringe and Indianapolis Public Library
Central Library—Clowes Auditorium—40 E. St. Clair St.

Jewish and . . . features several short talks by members of the Jewish community whose identities intersect with other groups. The sharing of personal narratives is a powerful way of presenting the vast, and often unrecognized, diversity within the Jewish community. Hear about the experiences of these community neighbors, ask questions and help build bridges of understanding.  


Saturday, November 10, 3 – 6 p.m.
Convergence: Connecting our Shared Experience through Performance and Prose
Presented by Stacia Murphy, Kheprw Institute, INAZ Dezign, Oldsoul Entertainment, Bringing Down the Band, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, and The Church Within
The Church Within—1125 Spruce St.

The Indianapolis artistic community is a diverse group of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Featuring many local artists, attendees will reflect on the convergence of artistry, culture and tradition through poetic prose, rhythmic dance and visual storytelling. Spoken word, visual art, dance and music will intersect during this event to showcase stories of historically silenced communities and the power of unity. It will also include a hands-on learning portion and time to interact with the performers.


Reflections on Intersection – Our 2018 Theme

This year, Spirit & Place is exploring the theme of Intersection, or what happens when two seemingly different forces or topics come together and how that creates differences in power. In advance of this year’s Festival, the Spirit & Place staff is further exporing this theme in their own words. 

Why is intersection a theme Spirit & Place wants to design a Festival around?

“Coming off the POWER year in 2017, we wanted to provide the community the opportunity to explore the ways in which complex issues, ideas, and even power structures, intersect with one another. We thought INTERSECTION might possibly give people the freedom to dig deeper into some of the issues they explored in 2017.“

“Spirit & Place itself thrives at the intersection of art, religion, and humanities and in the places were ideas, people, and organizations connect to make meaning, develop new solutions, and build community. We see these intersections as potent interchanges for creativity, collaboration, and civic conversation. In this way Spirit & Place serves as “bridging capital,” the term Robert Putnam uses to describe he necessary glue of healthy, thriving places.”

Is there a definition of intersection that resonates most with you?

“The artist Piet Mondrian, a 20th century Dutch painter whose work featured simple geometric elements, said, “Vertical and horizontal lines are the expression of two opposing forces; they exist everywhere and dominate everything; their reciprocal action constitutes ‘life.””

“I like how as a noun, “intersection” can mean a place where two roads meet. But if you remove the last three letters of the word it becomes a verb – intersect – which means to cut or divide by passing through. We do not live in a nice, neat, black-and-white world. It’s complex and messy. Subtle differences can mean a great deal and “intersection,” as a word and concept can embody all that.”

What does intersection mean to you (either you as an individual or S&P)?

“To me, intersection is all about a “place of meeting.” That place can be a mutually supportive space where ideas, people, and beliefs complement each other or it can be congested space filled with competing ideas and values. Either way, intersections are places where we need to slow down, assess what’s going on, and work with others to navigate our way through.”

“For me, intersections are opportunities for discovery and relationship-building. The meeting point of differing ideas and people is a powerful place for creation. American businessman and educator Clayton M. Christensen: “Almost always, great new ideas don’t emerge from within a single person or function, but at the intersection of functions or people that have never met before.”

What does S&P hope will come out of an exploration of this theme (event submissions, responses from the community, etc.)?

“As Program Director, my hope is that we’ll see a mash up of unique collaborative partnerships between groups not typically thought to have intersecting interests or identities. I’m a big believer there always connections to be found between people and I’d love for our event partners to model that in their collaborative efforts.”

“What I love about Spirit & Place is that is absolutely impossible to project what will happen. But we do know from 22 years of experience, that creating the opportunity for people to make new connections is a potent tool for strengthening communities and enhancing civic vibrancy.  It’s also my hope that the ideas explored this year will seed ideas for 2019, when our theme is R/EVOLUTION.”

What is an example of an intersection that is most interesting to you?

“I was a big fan of 2017’s POWER theme. So, I’m personally interested in exploring power-related intersections. I’ve currently been doing some research and reading based on Zeynep Tufekci’s work which explores the intersection of power, authority, and (big data/social media) technology.“

“I’m interested in the spiritual and social dimensions of making music, particularly group-singing.  As cofounder of SongSquad and Justice Choir-Indianapolis, I believe that group-singing teaches us to listen to each other more deeply, strengthens and activates our voice in the world, connects us to each other and to what we hold sacred, provides a window to other cultures and traditions, and provides a powerful source of communal joy. And it’s the cheapest form of therapy you can find!“

The list of events for this year’s Spirit & Place Festival will be announced later this summer. Keep an eye on this blog, our website and Spirit & Place’s Facebook and Twitter pages for more information. In the meantime, Spirit & Place encourages you to examine intersections in your own life and community. Where do different forces intersect to create the but, and, or in your life?

Spirit & Place Selection Committee Spotlight


It will be a few more weeks before we officially announce this year’s lineup for this year’s Spirit & Place Festival, but today we’re giving you some insight into how events were chosen. During Indiana’s bicentennial year in 2016, Spirit & Place Festival explores the definitions of “Home” as a place, a space, and an idea. Some submitted events fit exactly with the more literal interpretation of home, but as past Spirit & Place Festival attendees know, the multiple interpretations of the theme is what makes this Festival unique.

Organizations or individuals interested in submitting events for this year’s Festival submitted an application that answers questions related to the design of their event, the goals of the event and collaborators. After those applications are submitted to Spirit & Place, the volunteer selection committee came in to discuss events and make the final decision about event inclusion.

The selection committee is made up of individuals representing a variety of ages, races and professional backgrounds in Central Indiana. Some individuals have been involved with the committee and Spirit & Place for years, while other committee members provide new voices and perspectives. Each event is evaluated on its individual design and how it fit into the Festival as a whole.

According to veteran committee member Heather Hall, “Spirit & Place is a fantastic opportunity for neighborhoods, faith centers, community groups, and arts organizations to creatively collaborate in showcasing their stories within the framework of the festivals theme. I continue to participate in the Spirit & Place selection process because it is a unique opportunity to see Central Indiana communities through the lens of the arts, humanities, and religion.”

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The Festival is a platform for experimentation, celebration and reflection for Central Indiana residents. Committee members took this into account as they chose events as well.

As new committee member Uroosa Khan says, “Spirit & Place … amplifies the Hoosier voice and it is the core and heart of who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re headed. It is a celebration of the light within us. I was honored to serve on the selection committee to help find the brightest of these voices.”

The 2016 Spirit & Place Festival will run November 4-13, 2016. Stay tuned for an official announcement of events that will be included in the 2016 Festival in the next few weeks!

Proud to Play

By Sarah Norman, Arts Specialist, Garfield Park Arts Center

“When did we stop drawing just for the fun of it? Did we lose some part of ourselves when we conformed to coloring inside the lines?”

We are a playful bunch at The Garfield Park Arts Center (GPAC). From hiding toy hedgehogs around the office to blowing bubbles off our balcony, you can expect to find us giggling about something silly happening. We bring this fun-loving attitude to our programs and events.

Our campers learn how to make their own larger-than-life plush germs, our students joke around with us (and bake us yummy food!), and parents can’t stop themselves from joining in when their children are working on a free project in our Arts for All.

At the GPAC, we believe art can be a fun, rewarding experience no matter who you are. How often do you get to go on a Sketch Scavenger Hunt? Or participate in a Chinese Dragon Dance, on a dragon YOU helped design? Preschoolers paint on walls like cavemen, artists doodle creatures on sidewalks, and even the quick visitor can smile about the monkey painted in our family restroom.

“Kids know how to play. They are experts at it. They practice play all the time. They can’t stop.”

There are many ways to think about art. Too often it is seen as something specialized, intangible, or beyond understanding. People shy away from art galleries or cringe when you ask them to draw something. When did we stop drawing just for the fun of it? Did we lose some part of ourselves when we conformed to coloring inside the lines? Picasso once said “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. “

Well, if the illustrious Picasso claims that all children are artists, it must be so. Where do these kids learn to be artists? How do they tirelessly produce work after work? How do they continuously get their artwork shown on the fridge?

The answer: kids know how to play. They are experts at it. They practice play all the time. They can’t stop. They play in theatre camp, manipulating puppets and using goofy voices. They play in music class, stomping and clapping along while their instructor plays the guitar. They play in the art room, drawing very specific animals with stories. It’s this expertise that allows them to create, uninhibited.

Now in its 17th year, the Spirit and Place Festival has chosen “Play” as its theme for 2012. The GPAC is thrilled to be involved, and we hope to see you there, playing like a kid.