News and Tribune

March 5, 2014

Earthship presentation, project to educate on environment in Southern Indiana

Sculptures to be placed along Ohio River in four municipalities


JEFFERSONVILLE — Art isn’t always just for viewing pleasure — sometimes it can be a powerful tool for education.

The Jeffersonville Arts Alliance is teaming up with the Public Arts Commission and the Arts Council of Southern Indiana to produce four sculptures modeled after earthships. The art project will follow a public presentation by Scott Irick, representative for Earthship Biotecture, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Jeffersonville City Hall.

An earthship is a sustainable home made from recyclable and conventional materials that is completely off the grid, Irick said. The houses are powered through solar energy, absorb and store heat naturally, filter rainwater and grow food in an adjoining greenhouse.

“Earthships are freedom,” he said. “Once you build your earthship, there are no bills.”

Houses are made with tires as bases, glass bottles and mortar, among other materials. Most earthships are located in the southwestern United States, but have spread as far as Kentucky, Tennessee and countries across the world.

“I just fell in love with earthships, and I just realized they solve a lot of the problems that we have,” said Irick, who gives presentations across the country on earthships and is in the process of filming a documentary on them.

Irick said the purpose of his presentation is to educate and inspire the public.

“We want to introduce people to the concept of an earthship ... and bring awareness to this idea that most people aren’t aware of,” Irick said.

Shane Corbin, director of planning and zoning for Jeffersonville, said the idea came about when he met Irick last summer at a festival in Louisville.

“It’s very progressive,” Corbin said. “Sustainability is becoming more and more important to people everywhere. This is a radical idea, but it’s an interesting idea.”

Because building codes don’t allow earthships in the city, Corbin came up with the idea for an art project.

“I was interested in doing something here in Jeffersonville, but I didn’t think building an earthship structure was something the city would do,” he said. “So we started tossing around the ideas of smaller structures.”

With the help of Dawn Spyker — president of the Jeffersonville Arts Alliance and also a member of the Jeffersonville Public Arts Commission — the idea to build four benches based on earthship techniques was born.

Spyker will lead a Jeffersonville Art Movement, or JAM, Session in the second weekend of April, inviting members of the community to help build the art structures. Through a partnership with the Arts Council of Southern Indiana, the four S-curve bench sculptures made from tires and glass bottles will be placed along the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Utica, Clarksville and New Albany.

“We’re showing a connectedness of towns. Although we all live in different places, we’re still all connected by the river and we’re here because of the river,” Spyker said. “It becomes a piece that grows and becomes bigger than itself.”

The exact times and locations of the JAM Session, as well as where the benches will be placed, will be determined after Irick’s presentation through public discussion.

Irick said he hopes his presentation and the project will spark some momentum.

“The community art events will be a great way to begin to experience that and get a feel for and hopefully get the attention of folks who want to build them for their homes,” Irick said.