IU Art Museum Tour Leads to a Young Student Meeting Artist John Himmelfarb

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Artist John Himmelfarb and University Elementary student Arlo Altop

Education is at the heart of the IU Art Museum’s mission. We strive to use our collection to help students better understand the world through the language of art. In 2014, almost 4,000 primary and secondary school students and over 11,000 college students toured the IU Art Museum. Here is a story of one student whose tour led to something even greater.

Towards the end of the 2015 school year, University Elementary’s first grade class toured the IU Art Museum. While in the Doris Steinmetz Kellett Gallery of Twentieth-Century Art, one student in particular, Arlo Altop, fell in love with Chicago artist John Himmelfarb’s painting of a truck, titled Forbearance. Apparently trucks are one of Arlo’s favorite things and he was so excited by the painting he saw that he went home, started drawing trucks, and asked his mother, Rebecca, the name of the artist whose painting had seen at the museum. She did a little research and contacted Mr. Himmelfarb to tell him how his work had impacted her son. To her surprise, she received a reply from Himmelfarb soon after, inviting Arlo and the family to Chicago to attend the opening of his most recent exhibition No Exit: Thirty Years of Trucks, Icons and Weird Drawings at the McCormick Gallery in Chicago. The Altops were able to attend the opening and Mr. Himmelfarb was both pleased and surprised that they were able to make it. He spent a good deal of time showing Arlo around the exhibition (as you can see from the photos included here). Himmelfarb informed us that the sculpture in these photos is largely comprised of parts from a 1951 International truck that was given to him by none other than the IU Art Museum’s Director Emerita Heidi Gealt. As Arlo’s mom, Rebecca, said of the trip “Art is so important, I am just happy that my first grader has already had the experience of being moved by it.”

You can find out more about John Himmelfarb and his work at his website. You can also of course stop by the IU Art Museum, where Himmelfarb’s Forbearance is on permanent display.

(Special thanks to Rebecca Altop for sharing this story with us and providing the photos seen here.)

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