The third Exhibit Columbus festival opens to the public August 21

Middle Ground

The third Exhibit Columbus festival opens to the public August 21

The installation of Ecosistema Urbano’s Cloudroom underway on the grounds of Central Middle School in Columbus, Indiana. (Hadley Fruits/Courtesy Exhibit Columbus)

At a slew of parks, plazas, and other civic landmarks spread in and around downtown Columbus, Indiana, 13 site-specific installations, a 300-pound inflatable “cloud” among them, are steadily coming together (as of this writing, helping hands are still welcomed) for the 2021 Exhibition of Exhibit Columbus.

Kicking off this Saturday, August 21, with a roster of special goings-on at the city’s Mill Race Park and the Eliel Saarinen-designed First Christian Church, the exhibition component of the third iteration of nonprofit Landmark Columbus Foundation’s signature program will run through November 28, with all 13 installations remaining on public view until then. Throughout the fall, Exhibit Columbus will also host a series of exhibition-tied events across the southeastern Indiana city—one with just under 50,000 residents that’s small in size but famously abounding with works of modernist architecture—that further explore co-curators Iker Gil and Mimi Zeiger’s 2020-2021 theme, New Middles: From Main Street to Megalopolis, What is the Future of the Middle City?

(AN recently discussed the ecological “middle” in question, the vast Mississippi River watershed, with Zeiger and Gil along with photographers Virginia Hanusik, based in New Orleans, and the Minneapolis-based David Schalliol. Both Hanusik and Schalliol, as the inaugural Photography Fellows of Exhibit Columbus, will also present their works throughout the run of the Exhibition.)

Joining Ecosistema Urbano’s sure-to-be crowd-drawing Cloudroom at Central Middle School are pavilions designed by the four fellow recipients of the 2020­–2021 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize, seven Design Research Fellows, and the Columbus-based High School Design Team. All of the newly commissioned works respond to their unique locations, which include a range of prominent Columbus sites, both historic and contemporary, designed by the likes of I.M. Pei, César Pelli, Saarinen, Perkins&Will, and more.

designers view an installation in a park
Tom Carruthers and Jennifer Newsom of Dream the Combine view their Columbus Columbia Colombo Colón at Mill Race Park. (Hadley Fruits/Courtesy Exhibit Columbus)

Unveiled last March, the full list 2021 Exhibition installations and their respective designers and locations is as follows:

Miller Prize Recipients

  • Columbus Columbia Colombo Colón, Dream the Combine (Minneapolis) | Mill Race Park
  • Cloudroom, Ecosistema Urbano (Miami, Madrid) | Central Middle School
  • Midnight Palace, Future Firm (Chicago) | Sears Building Plaza
  • Alternative Instruments, Sam Jacob Studio (London) | Washington Street
  • ARCHIVAL/REVIVAL, Olalekan Jeyifous (Brooklyn, New York) | Cleo Rogers Memorial Library

University Design Research Fellows

  • Tracing Our Mississippi, Derek Hoeferlin (Washington University in St. Louis) | Columbus Pump House
  • To Middle Species, With Love, Joyce Hwang (University at Buffalo) | Mill Race Park
  • LaWaSo Ground, Jei Jeeyea Kim (Indiana University) | First Christian Church
  • Spectral, Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller (Texas Tech University at El Paso) | Crump Theatre
  • Window Dressing, Ang Li (Northeastern University) | The Commons
  • This Appearance Is ____ , Lola Sheppard and Mason White (University of Toronto and University of Waterloo) | Washington Street
  • Calibrate, Natalie Yates (Ball State University) | Franklin Square

The High School Design Team

Tunnel Vision by students from the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (Columbus North High School, Columbus East High School, and Hauser High School) | Central Middle School

installation of a colorful pavilion at exhibit columbus
ARCHIVAL/REVIVAL by Olalekan Jeyifous takes shape at Cleo Rogers Memorial Library in downtown Columbus. (Hadley Fruits/Exhibit Columbus)

Joining the 13 installations are, as mentioned, new works by Photography Fellows Hanusik and Schalliol. Wayfinding and environmental design for the 2021 Exhibition was created by Jeremiah Chiu of Los Angeles-based studio Some All None.

On the eve of opening day, Exhibit Columbus will host a preview party at the Michael Van Valkenburgh-designed Mill Race Park in downtown Columbus. Promising booze, food, live music, and community celebration, the nighttime fête on Friday, August 20 is a ticketed affair; more information on how to attend can be found here. Other events held throughout the course of the 2021 Exhibition include talks, tours, and more that are free and open to the public, with some requiring advance registration.

aerial view of an inflatable doughnut installation at exhibit Columbus
Aerial view of Cloudroom during the installation process. (Hadley Fruits/Courtesy Exhibit Columbus)

“Columbus is big enough to have ambition and small enough to get things done,” Anne Surak, director of Exhibit Columbus, told AN in June of last year. “It’s a really interesting place to be a laboratory for exploration and looking at what’s possible.”

Columbus-based global engine designer and manufacturer Cummins Inc. is serving as the presenting sponsor of the 2021 Exhibition. Heritage Fund—The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, through a grant received from Lilly Endowment Inc., is the presenting sponsor for the Miller Prize.

Stay tuned for further on-the-ground coverage from Columbus during the run of the 2021 Exhibition.