Journey Indiana


Episode 404

Coming to you from New Harmony, a Monroe County marble master; tour Indiana's oldest operating public library - the Working Men's Institute; and see the story behind one of this year's Exhibit Columbus projects.

AIRED: August 24, 2021 | 0:26:46

>> Production support for "Journey Indiana" is provided by

Columbus Visitors Center, celebrating everywhere art

and unexpected architecture in Columbus, Indiana.

Tickets for guided tours and trip planning information at

And by WTIU members. Thank you!

>> BRANDON: Coming up, meet a Monroe County marble master.

>> ASHLEY: Tour Indiana's oldest operating public library,

the Working Men's Institute.

>> BRANDON: And meet the duo behind Haptik B,

and see their latest project in Bartholomew County.

>> ASHLEY: That's all on this episode of --

>> TOGETHER: "Journey Indiana."

>> ASHLEY: Welcome to "Journey Indiana." I'm Ashley Chilla.

>> BRANDON: And I'm Brandon Wentz.

And we're coming to you from New Harmony in Posey County.

This small town, originally known as Harmony, was

carved out of the wilderness by the Harmonist Society in 1814.

A decade later, it was sold to industrialist and social

reformer Robert Owen, with intentions of creating

a new utopian community on the banks of the Wabash River.

They renamed it New Harmony.

Today, many of the town's oldest Harmonist buildings have

been restored, and alongside some modern masterpieces,

are viewable in the New Harmony Historic District.

>> ASHLEY: And we'll learn all about New Harmony

and the anniversary that they are celebrating in 2021

in just a bit, but first, we are headed to Monroe County

to meet an artist creating tiny worlds inside glass marbles.

Producer Saddam Abbas has the story.

>> Art is a way to be expressive.

It's tough.

It can mean two different things.

Being an artist, it just depends on your perspective,

but it definitely means, you know,

a show of creativity of the mind,

and that we are all blessed with an ability to create.

And once you have got enough practice at it

and if enough people like it

and you can put it in front of enough people,

then art can also be, you know, a way of life then at that point.

So that's what art is.

>> Every idea is a new idea.

So that's why it becomes like a favorite.

So when I'm listening to music,

every song has a reason to be kind of a favorite song.

I have been playing bass guitar now for about 25 years.

I had an idea to make guitar knobs,

like for the control portion of a guitar,

and I wanted to make those out of glass.

I had never seen anybody make those out of glass before.

It started as a hobby, but it grew into something more,

one step at a time.

I was a welder in Arizona.

And in Arizona, in Tucson where I lived, there's welding shops

everywhere that you could get supplies from.

And then when I moved back here to Indiana, where I'm from --

I'm from Bloomington, there's no welding shops.

You have to go up to Indianapolis

to get supplies for welding.

And so my friend who suggested that I buy a glass torch

also informed me that Bloomington has one of, like,

the top warehouses for glassblowing stuff in the country.

I became a glassblower out of convenience.

When I make a marble, the beginning of a marble

actually starts as a cup, and then the cup is

where I put all the glass inside.

And then melt it down.

All the active heating will happen here on the torch.

I consider this to be, like, the beginning of one of the marbles.

It's all solid and ready to go.

These are pieces that I make.

Then I will take them, and I will heat them up in different

bands and twist them back and forth to make a zigzag pattern.

And then that gets, you know, squished up in the mold there,

and you can smooth it and turn it.

And when you do it enough, like

it will be, like, perfectly round.

And then there's a little trick to get it off the handle there.

And then there's a little trick to polish it.

After you do that, that would make

like a really neat looking marble.

I had never seen anybody put sparkles in a marble like this.

And so this has every element that I wanted in a marble.

It gives me depth.

It gives me sparkles, and it gives me, like, straight lines.

Making something like this and then making it a marble, like,

that just checks all the boxes for me.

Like, it just felt like this was the way that I wanted to

make 'em for sure, because it was, like,

I love everything about the style.

Everywhere, anywhere, anything could be inspiration.

Colors like -- any color combination

that I haven't seen lately,

any color combination that I haven't seen ever.

The actual artistic process, it actually begins

with the previous marble a lot of times.

The glass, the colors of the glass, I have to get all

different types of colors of glass.

They all change color with the way that they are heated, okay?

So if you heat up a piece of red, for instance,

it will turn brown.

If I have those colors together, sometimes I see them

in different colors than what they really are.

And when I see their hot colors,

sometimes the hot colors will definitely give me an idea

for another set of colors that I would like to try on a marble.

My two aspects that are the strongest in glass

are my marble making and my turtle making.

It's kind of odd.

I was asked to make a sea turtle pendant one time.

It was a very good friend of mine, and so I did it.

And ever since I made one, I just wanted to make one better

and better and better and better.

So I just got hung up on the sea turtle pendants because

I'm a perfectionist.

When I'm making a marble, it is sort of figuratively

and literally, in a way, my own little world.

When I bend it back and forth and smoosh it together,

it's like, you know, you make a round little thing that could

be like a world, right?

But when -- when you look inside of it,

the way that they wave back and forth,

I think of them as landscapes when I'm making them.

So, like, in a way, they are their own worlds, like --

it's like a picture of a fantasy world that doesn't exist.

>> BRANDON: The tiny world inside of those marbles is fascinating.

I actually have a marble that looks like Starry Night on the inside of it.

If you could have a marble made for you that

looked like a painting, what would it be?

>> ASHLEY: I think any Degas painting I would love to have in a little marble,

seeing those little dancers in there would be gorgeous.

Want to learn more?

Just head over to

>> BRANDON: Earlier, we caught up with Kaitlin Moore Morley

to learn all about New Harmony, Indiana.

>> This area in the early 1800s was absolutely nothing.

It was tracts of land.

You would have the Woodland Indians that had been in here

like 2,000 years earlier.

In 1814, there was a group called the Harmonists,

and the Harmonists had been living in

Pennsylvania for the last ten years.

And so they were following a Biblical prophecy

that talked about a woman running into the wilderness.

So they had followed down the Ohio, picked up the Wabash,

and then landed at the end of what is our current Main Street.

The ten years that the Harmonists were here --

they were here from 1814 to 1814 -- they built 180 buildings

incredibly industrious people.

Part of their unusual theology is that they did not have children,

and so they had a lot of time to build buildings and structures.

1824, the Harmonists decided to go back to Pennsylvania.

When they left, they sold the entire town, all the buildings,

to a Scottish philanthropist by the name of

Robert Owen and his business partner Ann Maclure.

Robert Owen had this vision of utopia that was going to be secular,

that was going to be built on learning and knowledge,

and growth and advocacy.

He was able to recruit, like really truly brilliant minds

from all over the world, really, and he shipped them

down in what he called his boatload of knowledge,

and they were here and they were living this

socialist utopian experiment for really two years

before they closed the socialist experiment down,

but a lot of them stayed and remained and did their --

continued doing their work here in New Harmony.

Robert Owen's descendants, one of them, married a woman

by the name of Jane Blaffer, and Jane was able to use her

resources and brilliancy to really develop the town

into what it is today.

My favorite place, I think the most incredible thing

that we have in New Harmony is the Bodmer Exhibit Museum.

One of the people who was traveling through the area

at the time was the name of Prince Maximilian of Wied,

and he was a German prince.

The person he was traveling with,

one of them was Karl Bodmer,

who was a famous watercolorist from the time.

And Bodmer painted landscapes, as well as portraits,

and did these beautiful, beautiful, beautiful portraits

of Native Americans as they traveled west,

and we have a large collection of those paintings.

The Harmonists cemetery, there is a large brick wall around it.

There was a large brick church on the edge of town

that was built between 1822 and 1824,

and by the time it was finished building,

the Harmonists were ready to move on.

So they never really ended up using it much

as a worship space, and the Owens, of course, were secular.

So it was more of a dance center, community hall during that time.

At one point, the last surviving Harmonists

who were living in Economy, Pennsylvania,

came back and dismantled the church brick by brick

and built the wall around the Harmonist cemetery

to encase their people.

So we have two labyrinths here in New Harmony.

One of them is right across from Athenaeum

and it is one of Jane Owen's brainchildren,

who was an incredibly spiritual woman.

She wanted it to be a -- modeled off the cathedral in France.

The one that is probably a little more famous is

on the north side of town, and that is a hedge labyrinth.

And the Harmonists used a hedge labyrinth as a way

of meditating and praying in their own society.

And that labyrinth was eventually torn out,

and then this one was installed in 1940s on the north side

of town as kind of a nod to their spirituality

and the way that they did things.

There's a joke in town that you don't choose New Harmony,

New Harmony chooses you.

And there are just some people that will come in and connect

to this town and love to come back year after year after year.

>> BRANDON: So Ashley, I know that when we started this show

a couple of years ago, you had the goal of going to

a coffee shop in every town that we visited.

How is it going so far?

>> ASHLEY: You know, as of late, we haven't been able

to go to very many coffee shops, but I was really excited

because when I got into New Harmony today,

the first thing I saw when I got to town

was a coffee shop called Black Lodge Coffee Roasters.

And shout out to them, because it was amazing coffee,

and I look forward to going to more coffee shops in the future.

>> BRANDON: You can learn more and schedule a tour at

>> ASHLEY: And if you would like to learn more about New Harmony,

our friends at WNIN produced a documentary a few years ago

that will help you learn all about it.

In a bit, we're going to learn all about the anniversary

that they are celebrating here.

But first, we're headed just down the street,

and into Indiana's oldest operating public library.

Producer Susanne Schwibs has the story.

>> Many years ago, I became aware of the Working Men's Institute.

I had heard that there were some very old collections down here,

but they were hidden away and nobody knew

what the content of the collection was.

My name is Ron Richards.

I'm the senior research curator of paleobiology

at the Indiana State Museum.

>> The Working Men's Institute is a museum and a library.

We are Indiana's oldest continuously operating library.

We were founded in 1838.

So we have been here for about 177 years.

>> And this is the last of the great natural history

collections from Indiana in the late 19th century.

The dates on these were 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, 1845 occasionally.

And we were the first ones to really open these things.

>> I am Peggy Fisherkeller.

I curate the geology collection at the Indiana State Museum,

and I have been coming down to Working Men's Institute

for over ten years.

And I am doing the first swipe through the rocks and minerals

and the invertebrate fossils that are here, and I have done thousands.

>> My name is Randy Patrick.

I have been working at the Working Men's Institute,

bringing their collection of marine mollusca --

this little guy here is a top shell --

up to modern taxonomy.

So every year, I come for one to three weeks, and I start --

just like this year, I started with a box.

I, through my monographs and several databases using characters,

figure out what genus and species is and how it fits

and then if it's rare or if it's common.

>> I'm Debra Patrick.

I have been coming down with my husband Randy

for the past ten years, and I'm just a volunteer.

So I do whatever they need me to do.

Each of these specimens, they have a name and they have a number.

And they all have to go in the database so that we can access them.

>> What I'm doing is identifying the snail collection.

This is a helix occulta.

Today, it's called Hendersonia occulta.

And these little snails are found in the fossil loess deposits.

The wind-blown silt deposits that are along

the east bank of the Wabash.

They date from about 14 to 21,000 years ago.

There are mussels from the Wabash that became

extinct decades ago, and most big museum collections,

even in the region, might have one or two.

But there are over 50 pairs here.

You can't find them anymore.

They are extinct.

>> We couldn't do it without Ron and his crew.

Ron and his team come down once a year for about two weeks,

and they really help us identify the specimens

that we have in our natural history collection.

>> A lot of it has not been scientifically documented

as well as one wants to.

I'm inclined to bring order, and that's what we do.

>> They identify them, write descriptions, catalog them,

and it's great that they come down here to do this curatorial outreach.

>> ASHLEY: You know, it takes such a special person

to be able to work in such detail like those folks do.

Do you think you could do something like that?

>> BRANDON: I think so, but I certainly could not

have cameras around me and people asking me questions.

Like, I would be so focused you would just have to leave me

alone the entire time I was there.

>> ASHLEY: You can learn more at

>> So this year, 2021, is the 250th birthday of Robert Owen,

who was the second kind of father of this town.

Robert Owen was a Scottish philanthropist

who was interested in the idea of utopia

and what it would take to bring about utopia.

So we are celebrating his 250th birthday and

the contributions he made to New Harmony while he was here.

>> BRANDON: And finally, producer Adam Carroll

introduces us to the design duo known as Haptik B.

>> Jei Kim grew up in Seoul, Korea, a big city

that helped inspire her career in architecture and design.

Dorian Bybee grew up in the Midwest,

equally inspired by his surroundings, he pursued a similar path.

Together, they formed the design firm Haptik B,

to bring all of their inspirations to life.

>> We worked in just about every kind of team environment you can imagine.

So by the time we started working together

on our own work, we had kind of seen the gamut of different

opportunities and ways you can work.

And we actually don't focus on one way.

We kind of are reactive.

We have to deal with what the project presents us,

and then we just kind of make our best --

do the best we can with what we are presented.

>> Yes, it's like trained as architects,

we always educated to be team collaborators.

We are kind of accustomed to shared thoughts

and brainstorm together and revise together.

So we are -- we think it's a great team.

There are some things that I could not do as much as he could do.

So we kind of balance out our work together.

When we have a project to start with,

we think about the concept first.

You know, ideation.

We always start with the brainstorming, conceptualizing.

We are heavily using digital modeling, digital working,

any kind of method.

So sometimes we kind of split, you know, those works.

But most of the time, we kind of back and forth between

collaborative thoughts, ideation, and back to revision

and back and forth.

>> It's interesting because there's good and bad side

when we come together.

Sometimes we start to come up with the same idea,

and then it's like, oh, that means it's a good idea.

Or sometimes like, wait, if we both have that idea,

maybe we should find some other opportunity there.

It's not just a collaboration between ourselves.

It's actually -- there's also a degree of collaboration

literally in the project we're working on currently,

but a little more figuratively other times

between our kind of professional work and academic work.

Because there's so much that you learn through teaching.

>> The pair's latest project, one that finds them working in

Bartholomew County as part of the Exhibit Columbus program,

brings together their academic interests

and their professional pursuits.

LaWaSo Ground combines renderings of land, soil, and water

to tell the story of the Midwest's Indigenous cultures,

and to advocate for their increased inclusion.

The key element, Indiana limestone.

>> So we have been calling it LaWaSo Ground,

which is a communal ground for those three elements,

which is connected to those metro cultures.

Again, land we are calling it to do this land of limestone,

or the limestone deposit that is embedded into the land.

People who started excavating to really bring the nation,

you know, the whole nation of America for 200 years.

They utilized the material.

More than 80% of all limestone production over this small,

narrow band of deep stone deposit has been used

a lot for building the nation.

So we have been kind of conceptualizing the material

as kind of symbolically or referring to American colonial culture.

And then the other one, soil, we are thinking of going

really past to these Native Americans, Indians culture

of making this land form, that it's mimicking land

of like rolling hills.

So we kind of tried to synthesize these two different

polemic ideas of land and soil, putting together into one site.

>> Those three elements are separate,

but they are all very related.

There's a system involved, and one can become the other

or at least there's a very intimate kind of relationship between them.

In that same sense, as we looked at the cultures

and the histories involved, we found a way that hopefully

we can express the relationships between things, allowing them

to be unique and separate, but not having to be separated.

Stone along with wood and some other materials are

considered primitive in the sense that human beings

have been using them pretty much forever.

In the case of Indiana limestone,

the reason it's been utilized around the country

is because it's this nice blend between hard and soft.

So it's hard enough to be durable.

It lasts quite a while.

It's soft enough to be able to put a really fine detail into it.

The stone gives us an opportunity to connect

to the community and the history involved.

>> For this duo, connection is key.

Jei and Dorian have worked all over the world,

from Beijing to Portugal to New York,

but a recent project allowed the pair

to work a little closer to home.

>> One that was working very well was the bicentennial medal

that we designed a couple of years ago for --

to celebrate the bicentennial history of Indiana University.

For that project, it was -- it was different process

because it was a medal, you know and that it's metal, you know.

As an architect, we really understand things more spatially,

and then looking at the maps and the location,

kind of showing the physical connectivity

of all those I.U.-related campuses,

including medical and academic campuses in Indiana.

So we wanted to show the interconnectiveness

of those campuses in kind of three-dimensional mapping

and how they are located and how they are connected through

the arcs and how they are trajectory out towards the nation and globally.

>> The future for Jei and Dorian lies

at the intersection between cutting-edge digital fabrication

and classic materials, like Indiana limestone.

There, they hope to find a middle ground between design

and culture, and bring a global focus to local work.

>> As we move forward, we are really interested in occupying

that space between these different kinds of elements

and finding those kinds of potentials that exist where,

to a certain extent, people have gravitated to one end or the other.

You know, we are kind of looking -- we're exploring

the new middles, the old middles.

>> Yes.

>> The in-between spaces.

>> ASHLEY: I know it's been a really popular trend

in a lot of smaller towns and bigger towns

to have these art installations, which is great

because you art all around your town.

>> BRANDON: Yeah.

>> ASHLEY: If you had to design some kind of object,

what would it be that artists would paint?

>> BRANDON: Probably my dog Harvey, like little sculptures

of him all over the city doing different things.

>> ASHLEY: I would love that.

>> BRANDON: LaWaSo Ground, along with the rest

of Exhibit Columbus -- sadly not including Harvey --

is open to the public through the end of November.

You can learn more at

And as always, we would like to encourage you

to stay connected with us.

>> ASHLEY: Just head over to

There you can see full episodes, connect with

us on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram and suggest stories

from your neck of the woods.

>> BRANDON: We also have a map feature that allows you to see

where we have been and to plan your own Indiana adventures.

>> ASHLEY: But before we say good-bye, let's head back

to Monroe County to take a tour of the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve.

>> Production support for "Journey Indiana" is provided by

Columbus Visitors Center, celebrating everywhere art

and unexpected architecture in Columbus, Indiana.

Tickets for guided tours and trip planning information at

And by WTIU members. Thank you!


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