One of the things we’re doing with this project is showing all the homes in which Indiana lived during his time here — he says that he lived in 21 different homes during his first 17 years in the state. Many of the homes are of similar size and character to this one: a two bedroom home of modest to small size.
When Indiana lived here the year was 1933 and he was but 5 years old. Irvington was a much different place — a working-class neighborhood anchored by a large factory, the International Harvester plant.
“That was in the day of soft coals and the absolute cloud of smoke was on top of our house. The doctor said if my family didn’t get me out into the country I might have become tubercular.”
After living here, Indiana moved to Mooresville, the town whose most famous resident at that time was John Dillinger, a figure that still plays a roll in Indiana’s life. No doubt it was a solitary life for Indiana as for most of his childhood, Indiana grew up without a sibling, until his parents divorced in 1939 and he eventually moved in with his father, step mother, and step sister in order to attend Arsenal Tech High School.
This address on South Irvington places it close to the boundary of the well-known Indianapolis neighborhood, Irvington, which has been undergoing a renewal and transformation into one of the more interesting and historic Indianapolis neighborhoods (check out the Irvington Historical Society for more info).
An image of this home was first published in the catalogue, “Crossroads of American Sculpture,” which accompanied the exhibtion at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The traveling exhibition, curated by Holly Day, featured the work of five Hoosier sculptors: John Chamberlain, Robert Indiana, Bruce Nauman, George Rickey, David Smith, and William T. Wiley.