When I first got to Muncie Indiana, napping on my hotel room bed, I could hear a real live marching band rehearsing in the distance which immediately brought to mind filmic images of Tim Robbins in his gangle-y glory singing about fighting eagles and cawing like a simpleton in the Coen Brothers film The Hudsucker Proxy as he sang "Fight on dear old Muncie" and flapped about the room like a maniacal bird! I guess that is a bad first impression. As is the abundance of fried food (who invented the "grilled cheese" made of mozzarella sticks anyway?). But, after wandering around Ball State University for a day, I have a few great things to add to my understanding of Muncie.
Ball jar! What?! Awesome! Jars! Love those jars! And the history of pickling that they conjure up images of! Second, the art museum on campus (The David Owsley Museum of Art) was surprisingly great! Despite it's tiny size the space held everything from a small ethnographic room of artifacts from all over the globe, a Renaissance painting room, a beautiful array of modern & contemporary art (including a piece by one of my favorite artists Mel Bochner! and a stunning piece by Lee Krasner!) and a thorough collection of just about every era & type of cultural expression (medieval icons, Asian scrolls, modern furniture design, Greek coins etc.) tastefully curated to maximize the space. Thirdly, the campus art making facilities are also beyond your average art school fare with giant ceramics studios, metal working shops, wood shops and more all housed inside a huge arts complex- even with a food court (though I don't know how much I suggest eating there, see above note about fried foods...)! The artist/professor that brought us out, Maura Jasper is the final reason why Ball State rocks. You might recognize her work from Dinosaur Jr. album covers or maybe her Punk Rock Aerobics project that took moving to music to a new level of bad ass expression in the face of evil fitness culture! She is an inspiration and I am so glad she's making her home out on the plains be as cool as it can be!