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Meredith Brickell

Meet Meredith Brickell

Meredith Brickell spent a lot of time in high school in the art room but because of her “practical side,” she decided on a career in graphic design.

“It’s what a lot of artistically inclined people do so that they can have a job,” she says. That career path didn’t last long, however, before she decided she’d rather be producing content and not just the apparatus by which it’s delivered. “So that’s when I got started in ceramics,” she says.

The associate professor of art and art history and chair of the department says she went from a really clean medium to the messiest but that, plus the physicality of the work, is what she likes best.

She has been teaching ceramics at DePauw for 10 years, and many of the classes she teaches include a community-based art component that is also a big part of her own practice.

Brickell is founder and project leader of the House Life Project, a grassroots, arts-focused initiative that was based in an abandoned house on the Near East side of Indianapolis. Through sustained relationships with local residents, the program reimagined a community liability – a vacant house – as a community asset, that is, a hub for arts and culture.

The project was comprised of a community of artists and neighbors and was active between 2015 and 2017. Through artistic practice and community collaboration, the artists used abandoned houses as sites for addressing neighborhood change and expanding the creative landscape in Indianapolis. 

This past year she helped produce People+Property, a publication that includes written and visual works created by writers and artists who explored issues of housing, neighborhood change, racial and ethnic discrimination and community engagement. 

There were a lot of people talking about interdisciplinary practice and inquiry at the time I was looking at jobs, but I could really see it at DePauw.

She also worked on an exhibition, “We’re Open, Come In: The House Life Project,” a collection of artworks and interactive installations that aims to spark conversations about neighborliness, housing inequity and the ways in which art can and can’t facilitate social justice. 

The House Life Project culminates with the exhibition at DePauw in March.

“The thing I really love about DePauw that has affected my work and my teaching is the interdisciplinary opportunities that exist,” Brickell says. “It’s almost by necessity that we work with one another because it’s a small campus, and we get to know one another for so many different reasons but then all of a sudden we’re talking about a collaboration.”

 Brickell says she wasn’t educated that way at the big state schools she attended. “But I always like having those varied conversations, and I’ve sought those out.” The difference, she says, struck her right away at DePauw. “There were a lot of people talking about interdisciplinary practice and inquiry at the time I was looking at jobs, but I could really see it at DePauw,” she says.

What’s the next project on deck for Brickell? “Whatever I do will be strongly influenced by the House Life Project – responding to place, being collaborative and looking critically at some issues,” she says.

To learn more about Brickell’s work, visit her personal website.

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