Students and Teaching Artists Impacting Each Other

Today we’d like to introduce you to two dynamic individuals who make the Artist in Residency program a success. A Residency is one teaching artist visiting the same group of students for at least six weeks. This consistency builds trust and a level of comfort between the students and teaching artist. 

Meet Christy Shaffer, an ArtMix Teaching Artist, and Ami Anderson, the ROOTS Coordinator for Indianapolis Public Schools (Reclaiming Our Opportunities to Succeed). Christy has been with the ArtMix Residency program since 2002. One of Christy’s regular residencies is the ROOTS program established eight years ago. “In this program we use art to help with IPS’s diagnostic program. When the student’s behaviors are exposed during the process of making an art project, this can be a key insight for all players working with that student,” explains Christy.

How to: Paint Sticks

The theme for this Spring Community Arts Classes has been nature, and for the last several weeks we have narrowed our focus to TREES. We have explored making collage trees with mixed media, we have done fine art printmaking with the smooth rings of cut logs, and we have painted patterns on branches. On the heels of Earth day we felt it important to use reclaimed materials to demonstrate the beauty of nature and conservation.

Below you can see one of the projects that our Community Arts Class students worked on. These are painted sticks!

Gaining Independence and Sense of Self

Meet Tyler Harkins. Tyler has been a student artist with ArtMix for more than 10 years. You can witness his creativity every Monday during our eight-week Community Arts Class sessions. According to his mom, Debbie, Tyler looks forward to coming to class at ArtMix because this is “his” place – he knows the teaching artists, he knows his classmates and he knows what is expected of him so he feels comfortable in this environment. “He is so independent, he doesn’t even want me to come in with him. I just drop him off and go about my day,” says Debbie. Tyler has Apraxia and Asperger Syndrome. He didn’t begin speaking until the age of four. He still has challenges finding his words, but making art has helped his motor skills tremendously. “The teaching artists have the skills and training to know how to work with each individual. They can give Tyler some general direction, then, he can run with the project,” Debbie proudly stated.

Embracing Spring

The ArtMix Gallery is embracing spring this month with our First Friday exhibit. With new pieces from our Community Arts Classes and favorites from Urban Artisans, you won’t want to miss this nature-inspired show.

Join us this month on May 5, 6-9 pm.

Our artists often find inspiration in nature. We will be exhibiting painting and drawings of things found in nature from our Community Arts Classes.

Our Urban Artisans have been hard at work creating pieces to sell in our gallery. We’ll have ornaments, hanging tiles, platters and more! Do you have a green thumb? You’ll want to get some of our flowerpots for your planting projects this summer! All flowerpots are 20% OFF! 

Art and Exceptionality

ArtMix has partnered with Butler University for a course in Art and Exceptionality. The course explores perceptions of abilities and disabilities with art as a guide.

This semester ArtMix welcomed 24 Butler University students into our studios. Every Wednesday for the past 12 weeks these Butler students worked alongside our Urban Artisans. They didn’t just work with the Urban Artisans, they formed relationships. The Butler students were welcomed as a part of the Urban Artisan team and into the ArtMix family.

Taking Comfort in the Community of Art Classes

Meet Leah Keel, a student in our Community Arts Classes who has sold work in the ArtMix Gallery. Leah stumbled upon ArtMix as she was exploring the Harrison Center for the Arts where ArtMix resides. As she recalls, “the smell of clay and the hallway filled with ceramics” was something she needed to be a part of.

Spring is Blossoming in Community Class

Spring is a time of renewal. The grass is turning green, leaves are growing on trees, and flowers are beginning to bloom. Just as spring has begun so has the latest session of community arts classes. This session the students are focusing on nature and growth.

On Wednesday night our Community Arts Class students entered our visual arts studio where a large tree branch, coffee filters, gauze, cotton swabs and pink paint awaited them. Teaching Artist Bella Heilbrunn, apron on and paintbrush in hand, was ready to give students directions for this new project.

April First Friday: Poet’s Tree


Underneath the poet tree

Come and rest awhile with me,

And watch the way the word-web weaves

Between the shady story leaves.

The branches of the poet tree

Reach from the mountains to the sea.

So Come and dream, or come and climb—

Just don’t get hit by falling rhymes.

-Shel Silverstein

April is National Poetry Month, and the ArtMix Gallery is taking inspiration from Shel Silverstein’s poem “POET’S TREE,” which is the name of our exhibit. With Spring in the air, this exhibit melds together poetry and nature. Our students have been inspired by the changing of the seasons and created a cherry blossom branch, which you can read more about here.

Finding Respite and Healing through Art

Meet Catherine Dixon (Cat), parent of Lucy who was born with a club foot on her left side. Lucy went through several rounds of serial casting and wore Ponseti braces for most of her first year. As Lucy grew, her tendons didn’t stretch along with her bones. As a result, her orthopedist recommended a surgical intervention – a procedure called Anterior Tibialis Tendon Transfer. So, at the tender age of four, Lucy was admitted into the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital where she met Bella Heilbrunn, an ArtMix Teaching Artist in The Lolly Project.

A Mother’s Story: How ArtMix Changed Her Sons’ Lives

Let me introduce you to Susan LeVay, a parent of two sons with autism. Susan first registered her boys, Jonathan and James, for ArtMix Community Arts Classes, and when they became teenagers, they became interns in the Urban Artisan program. In the beginning, they were challenged to learn many skills. When they completed the program, they had “gained confidence in themselves, pride in their work, better social skills, and a sense of accomplishment at earning a paycheck,” Susan recalls.