“We took a whole boat that was 40 feet long and cut it,” said Olivia Adam, president of IUPUI’s club rowing team.
That was the beginning of “The Crew Effect,” a sculpture that the rowing team has been working on every Saturday in the Herron School of Art and Design Eskenazi Fine Arts Center.
“We had three old boats just hanging around in our boathouse, and we didn’t want to throw them away because they were just really beautiful pieces,” Adam said. “So I had the idea of making a sculpture project out of it to get more team bonding and get the art community involved with the rowing team.”
Adam, a senior majoring in visual communication design at Herron, and members of the rowing team have since turned that idea into a reality.
In January, they started by cutting the boat into pieces and formed the base for two portions of the sculpture. Then they had to sand and clean the boat to make a usable canvas. Their goal is to tell the story of rowing through the sculpture and provide an immersive experience.
“We’re really trying to tell a story about rowing for people who don’t know a lot about it,” said Emma Edwards, a senior at Herron. “They can look at it and learn about the history and what rowing is.”
It will have different aspects of rowing on each side of the boat. One portion shows the rower’s seat and the special equipment they use. The other has the boat’s bow standing up on its side with an oar, showing off IUPUI’s red, black and gold colors.
“I love seeing our school’s colors out there,” said Carlos Godoy-Castro, who is in his second season with the rowing team. “I believe that we have a really cool and unique school, and it needs to be presented in a cool way.”
They also brainstormed a way to demonstrate water in the sculpture. Slits were cut out of the bottom and made into a unique 3D effect.
“Being in the boat is a completely different experience than looking at it,” Adam said. “So I was trying to visually abstract how when you put your oar in the water and you push, the boat literally lifts out and gets shoved forward.”
From the project’s concept to painting and photography, the team has made this a collaborative effort and a way to continue connecting as teammates. Many in the group came to the team without any rowing experience and found not only a great new sport but also a family.
“I went to the call-out meeting; I met Olivia there and felt really drawn in by how welcoming they were and how motivated they seemed to be,” junior Vivian Kemp said. “Especially after COVID and everything, being stagnant for a year and a half online, I could really use a way to be physically active while also being involved in the school. Once I went to the boathouse, instantly I knew this was for me.”
At IUPUI, you don’t need prior rowing experience to join the team. For Will Cisneros, a transfer student who joined the team two years ago, it was a way to learn a new sport and meet new people.
“It was nice to be involved and make connections with all these people,” Cisneros said. “We’re all from different backgrounds – you’ve got STEM majors, math majors, art majors – so it’s just like a melting pot.”
Through the Crew Effect, they hope to reach more students and continue to grow IUPUI’s young program. The rowing team started in 2014 with a group of friends who just wanted to learn to row recreationally. Now, more than 30 people are on the team, and they travel across the country to compete.
“It’s a great way to get active, create personal goals, physically, mentally, challenge yourself and also make friends at the same time,” Kemp said.
The sculpture will be displayed during Regatta and throughout the year at student organization events to bring awareness to the team. According to Adam, the sculpture needs a few more finishing touches before it will be complete in May.
“Our last piece is, we’re going to have the whole team sign their names, and we’re just going to have it keep building and building with each generation,” she said.