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Meet the Artist-Run Incubator Empowering Makers in Indiana | #50StatesofArt

Consuelo Poland writes about her experience running RUCKUS Makerspace in Indianapolis.

As part of  50 States of Art, Creators is inviting artists to contribute first-person accounts of what it is like to live and create in their communities. Consuelo Poland is a functional artist and Resident Maker at RUCKUS Makerspace in Indianapolis, IN.

I moved out of Grand Rapids, MI to find new opportunities after almost nine years of living there and 22 years growing up in Traverse City, MI. You could say I was overdue. I moved because I felt Grand Rapids was conservative, not only within the arts, but also with its social scene. Since moving to Indianapolis, IN, I've been fortunate enough to land a great position as the Artistic Foreman at RUCKUS Makerspace, which is a project of the Riley Area Development Corporation. RUCKUS was developed to help alleviate the financial struggles that a lot of makers and artists face when trying to start their own businesses. Essentially, it's a business incubator with 30 small businesses and startups currently within its walls, and we focus on giving them access to tools and equipment, workshops, classes, and business development resources.

Photo by GSY Media and 4 minds

Since joining Riley in 2016, I've built out the RUCKUS space, made tool and equipment lists, signed on makers, planned workshops and classes, and managed day-to-day events. Along with being the manager, I'm also a Resident Maker and have been fortunate enough to figure out what it is I want to do with my functional art: I want to start my own outdoor furniture line, and I will design and weld my metal functional pieces of furniture. Every piece of conceptual furniture I design is inspired by the textiles, weavings, and colors of my Guatemalan heritage, to create bold connections to the world. I really love designing functional pieces that revolve around shapes, patterns, and colors, and I think the furniture world should be pushed when it comes to designs and functionality.

Photo by GSY Media and 4 minds

Being a newcomer in Indianapolis has been interesting because I get to talk with artists who've been in the art scene for a while and get their perspective on the art world. Regardless of relocating, it seems as though every city struggles with cultivating an art scene that doesn't consist of the same exact people at the same parties, talking about the same things, excluding each other rather than banding together. That was a reason why I left Grand Rapids, so I feel fortunate to give emerging or struggling artists in Indianapolis an opportunity to get their name out there through RUCKUS.

Photo by GSY Media and 4 minds

What is great about Indianapolis is that everyone really wants to connect and fight the same fight, and hasn't been discouraged by the hurdles of financing a studio space or a business. Within our current space, we've developed our own community, where everyone shares their personal stories, their dreams, their skills, and naturally collaborates with one another. As a community, we are self-organizing and help educate each other when it comes to running a business, by offering advice on supply and material costs, brainstorming sales opportunities, and lending business tips. The networking that happens here has helped to get individual makers work, but it also helps RUCKUS as a whole. We won't stop making or collaborating, because we hope make an impact on the art and business world.

Photo by GSY Media and 4 minds

Click here to learn more about RUCKUS Makerspace. 

All year, we're highlighting 50 States of Art projects around the United States. This month, we're covering Illinois, Indiana, South Carolina, North Dakota, and Hawai'i. To learn more, click here.

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