Artists create works about local life

Candy Neal/The Herald
Painter Kat Spears and figurative sculptor Phoebe Scott are shown.


Paintings and sculptures depicting community life are being created in a local, but temporary, art studio.

Painter Katherine “Kat” Spears and figurative sculptor Phoebe Scott are artists-in-residence, working in a studio inside the former bank building at 416 E. Fourth St.

“It’s a chance for artists to kind of get away from their own routines, their own thing,” Phoebe said. “We go into a community to learn, enrich the community by bringing in arts there and enrich ourselves.”

Their residencies are part of the new rural artist residency program crated by Indiana UniverSIty’s Center for Rural Engagement in Bloomington.

Kat, who is from Lexington, Kentucky, and Phoebe, who is from the East Coast, are graduate students in their final year at Indiana University-Bloomington’s Eskenazi School of Art. Kat received her bachelor’s degree in studio art from Berea College and has done a residency in Washington State. Phoebe received her bachelor’s of fine arts degree in sculpture from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. She has assisted on projects with HandsHouse Studio, studied drawing and painting at Florence University of the Arts in Italy and studied under Christina Mastrangelo at Wethersfield Academy for the Arts. Phoebe has been a resident artist at c.r.e.t.a. Rome, as well as A.I.R. Vallauris in the South of France.

Both said they were looking forward to this residency.

“I do a lot of paintings that are like interior scenes with one or two people,” Kat said. “And I was thinking about the summer and things are opening up again. I wanted to go into like a tight-knit community and see what I could do with subject matter that was about community and about people emerging from a period of isolation.”

They also wanted to go to a different area to generate ideas. “I was really looking forward to it,” Phoebe said, “to shake up what I’ve been doing in the studio and to get some new ideas flowing before I head into my final year.”

They’ve been exploring the area, participating in events and talking to people in the community, including residents, business owners and local officials.

“We went to the 4-H Fair. We’ve been to baseball games, the farmers market on Saturdays, the Garden Gate Festival,” Kat said. “We’re trying to like really experience the place as much as possible.”

As a part of that, Kat created paintings depicting a scene from the fair and a Dubois County Bombers game, among others. Phoebe, who is fascinated by the human body, has been working on pieces involving hands and hand movements.

“I’ve been taking casts of some people’s hands who come in,” she said. “As an artist, they’re my key tools for everything. I also think they’re like incredibly emotive and expressive. They can tell the story of the person, what they do for a living, things. They’ve always been a fascination.”

The artist residency program is a way to plug campus artists into rural communities so that they can connect, share and be involved and learn from the community.

“It’s a really cool program where the artists have the opportunity to connect and gain inspiration from the community,” said Kyla Cox Deckard, director of communications for the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement. “They make connections with local artists in the community as well. So it’s kind of an arts exchange, if you will.” The program is a partnership between IU, Destination Huntingburg and the City of Huntingburg.

Phoebe and Kat have their art studio open each day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. People are welcomed to stroll in a see the paintings and sculptures they’ve created since being here. They can also see the artists work on new pieces and chat with them.

“The longer we’ve had the sign up (on the sidewalk), the more people have come in,” Phoebe said. “The people who have come in have been really interested. They’ve asked us good questions and are interested in our work and what we’re doing.”

This Friday, the duo will have the studio open to show their works and demonstrate their artistry as part of Fourth Fridays, which starts at 4 p.m. in Market Street Park. People can walk to the studio from the park to see their pieces as well as works from other local artists, which will also be situated outside the studio at that time.

Their residency will conclude with an exhibition of painting and sculpture the duo created during their time in Huntingburg. “Art in the Bank” will be held on Aug. 6. That day, the studio will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a public reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m.

More artwork and information about the residency program can be found at

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