Indiana State University Newsroom

Students, faculty member help art go ‘Cruising'

September 14, 2010

Brittany Perez always thinks about art.

The senior art education major at Indiana State University even keeps a sketchpad next to her bed, ready for whatever inspiration strikes in the middle of the night.

"I feel drawn that I have to put what I'm feeling and seeing into a physical form," said Perez.

The 27-year-old from Cayuga was among ISU students and faculty selected to design a car for "Cruising Around in Terre Haute," an exhibit presented by Swope Art Museum and co-sponsored by several area businesses and organizations, including Indiana State and the ISU Foundation. The sponsored locations will display the cars through Dec. 3.

ISU's cars are on the plazas outside of Stalker Hall and Myers Technology Building, both facing the quad. Eventually, plans call to relocate the car outside Stalker to the Scott College of Business, in recognition of the college's involvement with the motorsports studies program.

Perez's car is in Dede Plaza. Titled "Cruising through Campus," the 80-pound fiberglass piece features some of ISU's and Terre Haute's most recognizable landmarks, such as the Dede Plaza fountain and Vigo County Courthouse. Sycamore leaves adorn the seat and backend.

Instead of "making the car look like a car," she said she wanted it to reflect the community around it. She painted the landmarks in the way they would look to someone passing by in a vehicle.

Her first challenge was the absence of a top or center paneling, contrary to her expectations. Perez also had to paint 2-D objects on a 3-D surface, something she had done before.

Then there was the deadline pressure. She had to complete her vehicle within three weeks.

"So for three weeks, the car was part of my own home," Perez said.

She initially put a pop-up tent in her backyard to use as a studio, but the recent 100-degree heat spoiled her plans. The paint dried almost as soon as she applied it. So the kitchen table became the car's new home until Perez was finished.

This is not the first time Perez has seen her art on public display. She is an active member of Arts Illiana and involved with the Raven Gallery and Terre Haute Children's Museum. ISU's University Art Gallery has also featured some of her art.

Public critique of her work, therefore, is something she embraces.

"I always try to consider how [the art] is being viewed," Perez said.

At a viewing earlier this month at Swope, a woman standing near Perez began critiquing the car and offering suggestions of what could have been done differently. The woman had no idea Perez was the car's creator.

Perez said many of the people who saw her work immediately recognized its connection with the university.

Two other ISU students and a faculty member were also involved in the project. Fine arts graduate student Alan Bundza and Derrock Burnett designed the car sponsored by the ISU Foundation, titled "The Beat."

Art Professor Fran Lattanzio's car is located at the corner of Seventh and Cherry streets.

ISU and Swope have previously worked together to help beautify the community. The car exhibit follows up on a 2007 display of painted colt horses, one of which remains in the Commons of Hulman Memorial Student Union.

Cheri Bradley, wife of ISU President Daniel J. Bradley, is a member of Swope's board.

Participating in the "Cruising" exhibit provides the Foundation an opportunity to showcase student and faculty work while supporting the community, said Foundation president Gene Crume.

"Through our sponsorships, such as the Swope mini-car project, we reaffirm our support of Wabash Valley initiatives such as the arts," Crume said, "but also showcase our best and brightest students here at Indiana State."

Photos: - The Dede Plaza fountain is among Indiana State University and Terre Haute landmarks adorning an 80-pound fiberglass car designed by ISU art student Brittany Perez of Cayuga. (ISU//Gurinder Singh) - Indiana State University art student Brittany Perez of Cayuga designed a car that features ISU and Terre Haute landmarks for the "Cruising Around in Terre Haute" exhibit, sponsored by Swope Art Museum. (ISU/Gurinder Singh)

Contact: Gene Crume, president, ISU Foundation, 812-237-3777 or

Writer: Nick Hedrick, media relations assistant, Indiana State University, Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3773 or