IU trident welcomes travelers at Indianapolis International Airport
Jan 24, 2024
The IU trident sculpture was created by an Indianapolis-based company. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana UniversityAn unmistakable representation of Indiana University now welcomes travelers from around the world to Indianapolis International Airport.
A 6-foot-tall, crimson-colored IU trident was installed in Civic Plaza, between Concourses A and B, on Jan. 19.
The university commissioned the sculpture as a symbol of IU’s commitment and contributions to the city, state and world; and a celebration of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, families and others who embody the Indiana University spirit.
The trident was created by an Indianapolis-based business co-owned by Lola Hamilton, who was born and raised in central Indiana and is an alumna of the IU Herron School of Art + Design in Indianapolis.
“Initially as a student, I focused mainly on 2D art drawing and painting,” Hamilton said. “As part of the required core classes, I had to take an introduction into 3D art, and I completely fell in love with it. So I switched my major and finished in the sculpture department.”
Artist and business owner Lola Hamilton graduated from the IU Herron School of Art + Design. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana UniversityThree years after graduating from the Herron School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2009, Hamilton landed a seasonal job with Expo Design, now named Expo Arts. She began working as a production artist on parade floats, which led to a full-time position with the company. In 2020, she and a colleague bought the business when the owner retired.
“There are only a handful of companies in the entire country that do what we do,” she said. “I feel really blessed that I was able to find a career in this field, doing what I love every day.”
Creating university logos and letters is a common task for Hamilton and her team, but the trident presented unique challenges.
“We work with a different university with a logo that is an ‘I’ and it’s very simple,” she said. “The trident takes that and complicates it by a hundred because it requires many square shapes and angles. We had to think about every single plane of the whole three-dimensional sculpture.”
The trident is primarily made of steel and is lit from the inside, giving it a glow on both sides and the edges of the structure. It will be on display at the airport through Jan 19, 2025.
The IU trident is in the airport's Civic Plaza, between the concourses. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana UniversityExpo Arts has made sculptures for clients nationwide, but this project held added significance.
“Since I and another artist with the company have IU degrees, it is a bit more meaningful,” Hamilton said. “It’s also special to us because we fly out of Indianapolis International when we travel, so seeing our stuff there is exciting. It’s a beautiful airport, and we’re fortunate to have that kind of facility in our city.”
Hamilton said she did not expect her journey as a professional artist to keep her in Indianapolis, but she is happy it did. For IU students who want to build careers in Indiana, like nearly 90% of the university’s Indianapolis campus graduates, she shared this message: “We are in the center of the United States, the crossroads of America, a hub for conventions and other activities. This is a great place to create and have people across the country and the world see what you’re doing.”