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Last modified: Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Visions of Industry" collection by IU anthropology students opens at Monroe County History Center

March 24, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- From African savannas to urban skylines, understanding how humans continually affect landscape is at the heart of the message Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences anthropologist April Sievert has tried to deliver to the 21 students in her P399/P600 Industrial Archaeology class.

Locomotive Shops

Photo by Colt Michaels

An image of the old locomotive shops in Washington, Ind., above, is among original photographs taken by IU anthropology students for the "Visions of Industry" exhibit that opens with a public reception from 5-8 p.m., Friday (March 25), at the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington.

Whether or not Sievert's students got the picture, literally, will be exposed this Friday (March 25) at the Monroe County History Center with the public unveiling of "Visions of Industry," an exhibit of student photographs that display the discerning textures of industrial sites in and around Indiana. Using quarries, mills, rail yards and even entire factory towns as both canvasses and catalysts, the students, Sievert contends, should also be exposing associated themes on history, folklore, art, and environmental studies.

"I wanted the students to start to 'see' the past as it has formed background and created landscape textures that are revised, built upon, torn down and re-used," said Sievert, a senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the Anthropology Department. "Looking through a camera lens creates focus."

In the past Sievert's students have been able to associate their studies in historical archaeology through collaborations with both private organizations like Bloomington Restorations Inc. and public agencies like the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. But this foray into visualizing our industrial heritage represents a first partnership with the Monroe County History Center.

"Having a show there will allow our students to interact more with Bloomington residents, and it puts their work in a more professional and public light," she said. "This is a course that focused on the industrial landscape, the industrial revolution, the nature of work, and the sites that industry has left across the landscape. I thought Bloomington would be a great place for this class, with the limestone heritage that makes the surroundings here so unique."

A "Visions of Industry" reception, open to the public, will be held from 5-8 p.m., Friday (March 25), at the history center located at 202 E. Sixth St., Bloomington, and the photographs will remain on display there through May 6.

The work of several students will focus on quarries, but the exhibit does not center solely on limestone production. Other sites expected to be included are the Old Bag Factory near South Bend, the locomotive shops in Washington, Ind., and settings that may have had some special relevance to Sievert's students.

"Some of the students seem to have gravitated toward industrial places that have meaning for their families or home towns, which is really nice," she said. "That is a result that I'm happy to see."

The Industrial Archaeology class is a first at IU and was created by Sievert with the support of a 2010 Summer Instructional Development Fellowship. Her work has also included offering public archaeology programs and doing research at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell.

For more information or to speak with Sievert, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or