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Ignition Arts Brings Indianapolis Craft to Eye-Popping Public Artworks 

by Jay Gabler

An aerial view of a public artwork made of cedar wood. It is a short bridge structure that extends over a small rocky creek. The piece almost looks like an oversized canoe. There are two people with a dog sitting on a seating that extends from the inside of the artwork.
Photo Credit: Ignition Arts
Drift, a public art pedestrian bridge located in Fort Worth, Texas, is a project by Ignition Arts and artist Volkan Alkanoglu.

Under creative director Brian McCutcheon, an artist himself, Ignition Arts works with clients throughout the design, fabrication, and installation of artworks on scales ranging from the intimate to the epic.

Say you’re an artist, and you have a vision for a multihued shade canopy made up of tinted circles webbed together. Or maybe you’d like to create a giant flamingo head dipping down into an airport concourse, its neck seeming to disappear into the speckled ceiling. Maybe your vision is a little more straightforward: you just want to suspend a couple of 20-foot rings above a grassy clearing. 

A light skin tone person with greying hair, wearing an all blue outfit sits on a steel beam. Their gaze is directed to the camera, and they are in a large metal workshop warehouse.
Photo Credit: Ignition Arts
Brian McCutcheon is the founder and creative director of Ignition Arts in Indianapolis, Indiana.

You’d better know a guy in Indianapolis. His name is Brian McCutcheon, and he’s the creative director of Ignition Arts. Founded by McCutcheon and Tasker Day, the company offers “high-quality fabrication, craft, and management to clients with unique and creative projects.” 

The company’s projects can be seen across the country, with a special concentration in its home state of Indiana. Ignition Arts can create museum displays and bronze sculptures, but the company is best known for grand pieces that make you think, “How did they do that?” 

Ignition Arts understands that there are many stages in the creation of a work of art,” McCutcheon told CODAworx. “The concept starts in an artist’s mind but then has to travel a long path to the public sphere. This is something that happens in stages. We understand all of those stages, including the very practical aspects of budgeting, construction and transport.” 

McCutcheon is an artist himself, “using all media to create highly crafted sculptural work, much of which is large scale and public.” That gives him a special appreciation for the collaborative nature of such pieces, and Ignition Arts can begin working with artists before a commission is even accepted, collaborating on design development then ultimately handling the complex logistics of fabrication, installation, and project management. 

It’s no coincidence that Ignition Arts is located in Indianapolis. The city offers “ample amounts of physical space, a robust network of industry experts, and a rich history of auto manufacturing and custom car culture,” notes the company on its website

McCutcheon grew up in Michigan, and he told Towne Post that early experiences helping his uncle fix cars were formative. “In retrospect, I realize my uncle lives like an artist,” McCutcheon said. 

A young person of light skin tone in dark clothing raises both their hands up in the air as they stand next to a public artwork that spells 'ndy' in lower case cursive lettering. The person stands in for the letter 'I' to spell out 'Indy' for Indianapolis, where the public art exists.
Photo Credit: Ignition Arts
According to Ignition Arts, NDY is a series of sculptures commissioned by Visit Indy for their summer of 2015 social media marketing campaign. The sculptures were set in “postcard” vistas on or near the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, and have since been moved throughout the city.

Ignition Arts occupies an 18,000-square-foot building in the Central State neighborhood, where it’s part of a mixed-use development incorporating historic structures from a decommissioned psychiatric hospital. The company collaborates with businesses like Indy Urban Hardwood, which sourced recycled lumber to fabricate a Chicago sculpture by MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Walter Hood.

The company is also responsible for the “ndy” script sculptures that have become iconic landmarks of Indiana’s capital city. Designed by McCutcheon, each sculpture creates an interactive photo op where you become the I. The artist eagerly accepted the invitation to create another community art project for a city where he’s done several.

“We take great pride,” McCutcheon told the Indianapolis Star, “in working with the community.”