Visualizing Innovation

Exhibition Dates:

It’s difficult to imagine something being “innovative” without there being some spark of an idea that adds value to the world in a new way. That combination of “creativity” and “newness” are core ingredients to what represents innovative thinking.

Innovative thinking alone is not enough, however. It should be considered, shared and realized. With that in mind, on May 31, 2022, we invited numerous community leaders to the South Bend Museum of Art to share their ideas on innovation. These community leaders represented various sectors, including business, technology, higher education, leadership, urban living, city planning, nonprofits and the arts. Included in the group were 5 fantastic local muralists: Alex Ann Allen, Cassandra Graber, Federico Rodriguez, Lauren Steinhofer and Alex Van Galder. Drawing inspiration from this discussion, the muralists will translate these shared insights into visual images taking the form of murals painted directly on the walls of the SBMA’s expansive Warner Gallery. 

Visualizing Innovation is also designed to grow. A limited number of interior walls will be available for community groups to visit and paint their own murals under the guidance of one of the exhibition’s muralists to add their own vision to the exhibition. If you are interested in having your community group participate in painting a mural for the exhibition, please contact Casey Smallwood, Director of Innovation, Education, and Programming at or 574-235-9102. 

There are also Lunchtime Talks scheduled with the artists throughout the month of August and September, and an evening with The Art League and Alex Ann Allen as well! We also invite you to take part in our Visualizing Innovation Cafe serving coffee on Thursdays from 2:00–4:00 p.m. beginning August 11th —a space to gather, exchange ideas and meet new people.

This exhibition celebrates South Bend as a city that fully supports innovation. We invite you to think about what “innovation” means to you, share your own insights, and be inspired.

Also, be sure to visit The History Museum for their companion exhibition, Forging Innovation, which focuses on South Bend’s first century of progress. It is on view July 30, 2022 – July 9, 2023.

Community leader participants in the May 31st roundtable included:

Kathy Burnette, Founder, Brain Lair Books
Regina Emberton, Chief Executive Officer – ChoiceLight, Inc.
Scott Ford, Associate Vice President for Economic Development, University of Notre Dame
Tracy Graham, Founder and Managing Principal of Graham Allen Partners
Bethany Hartley, President and CEO, South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership
Jennifer Henecke, Chief Engagement Officer, St. Joseph County Public Library
Nathan Henry, Arts Director, LangLab
Redgina Hill, Executive Director of Inclusion and Equity at Saint Mary’s College
Laquisha Jackson, Owner, CEO and Executive Chef, Soulful Kitchen Catering
Velshonna Luckey, Self-Healing Communities Director of Engagement
Lisa O’Brien, Director of Development, St. Joseph County Public Library
Aaron Perri, Executive Director, Venues Parks and Arts, City of South Bend
Denise Linn Riedl, Chief Innovation Officer, City of South Bend
Stephanie Rizk, Owner, Atlas Strategic Consulting
Duane Wilson, Chief Operating Officer at Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County

About the artists:

Alex Ann Allen, The Next Generation, South Bend Museum of Art, South Bend, IN

Alex Ann Allen
Alex Ann Allen is a self-taught multidisciplinary traveling muralist living and working in South Bend, IN. The primary focus behind her work is portraiture and large murals influenced by futuristic perspective grids. Her passion and dedication lies in creating public art that brings communities together and helps beautify neighborhoods. A few well known public works in South Bend include: The Vortex on the side of Jiffy Lube, The Gerbera Daisies on the side of Kodachrome Coffee, and the twin geometric murals on the sides of Eddy Street Apartments. For the past year she has been curating and organizing a mural festival in South Bend called Mural Mania. Five artists from Texas, California and Indianapolis will be coming to paint five new murals in the city. She is also currently working with Eries Arts in Culture’s Purposeful Placemaking Initiative. This fall she will travel to Pennsylvania to paint a mural with two assistants to teach them her mural process and help brighten a neighborhood.

Cassandra Graber, Inno-Vision, South Bend Museum of Art, South Bend, IN

Cassandra Graber
Cassi Graber is a muralist based in South Bend, IN. While attending Columbia College in Chicago for Fine Art, a restaurant asked her to paint a large mural in their new building. The clients loved it and asked her to paint even more. It was then that she knew she wanted to paint murals as a career. She has now been painting murals for over 15 years, with clients including businesses, schools, cities, home owners, and not-for-profits. Graber also attended a professional faux finishing school in Louisville, KY to expand her abilities, and can’t wait to start her next project.

Federico Rodriguez, DUE SMTNG, South Bend Museum of Art, South Bend, IN

Federico Rodriguez
Born and raised in South Bend, IN, Federico Rodriguez graduated from St. Joseph’s High School and later received a B.A. in Fine Arts from Holy Cross College. He has dedicated his life to serving the community through the arts, spearheading many art projects and programs aimed at engaging the youth in the power of art and implication of beauty in the community. He has created murals, exhibited student work and exposed South Bend’s youth to visiting artists talks that provided them with a window into the different parts of life throughout the country. Rodriguez has worked as Assistant Curator for the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame, Head Art Instructor for the Ray and Joan Community Kroc Center, and is a former President of LULAC 5025 (League of United Latin American Citizens). He is currently the Family Outreach Coordinator for the South Bend Community School Corporation’s Bilingual Department.

Lauren Steinhofer, Bringing Light to Dark, South Bend Museum of Art, South Bend, IN

Lauren Steinhofer
Lauren Steinhofer is a South Bend, IN, based painter, poet, installation artist and festival curator. Her work encapsulates the persistence of being by dissecting different emotional experiences that occur as a part of the human experience, whether it be the turmoil of a broken heart, the dissociative state resulting from past traumas, notes of hope in situations of growth or bringing forth imagery that engage with collective social issues. Recent murals include The Tree Of Excellence for the South Bend Empowerment Zone in Navarre Middle School, Balanced in Equality, a ten foot portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg painted as part of SBMA’s Blurring Boundaries exhibition; and The Claw, at The Hair Distillery in downtown South Bend. Steinhofer is also founder and visionary of the annual (y)art? music and arts festival, in which a collective of artists come together to completely redesign a different residential location, giving upwards of 30 visual artists and a dozen musical acts the time and space to share their craft.

Van Galder Murals, Rainbow Farms Graffiti Art Wall, 2021, acrylic spray paint, Vandalia, MI, 6 x 36 feet

Alex Van Galder
Alex Van Galder was born in Madison, WI, moved to Indiana in 1994, and graduated from Northridge High School in Middlebury. He started creating graffiti when he was 17, beginning with tagging and trains. He attended Vincennes University where he focused on Fine Arts. After the birth of his first child in 2012, Van Galder began pursuing his art career diligently to provide for his family. Among his numerous public projects, he created the non-profit organization, Graff Bash Fundraising, Inc., focusing on providing art experiences to our Michiana communities. Graff Bash artists have murals on display at the Rio Park Events Center in South Bend. He is also assisting David Potterbaum with the design and building of interchangeable art slides in downtown Goshen with the current Mayor Jeremy Stutsman. Originally formed in 2009 as Van Galder Murals, his company Van Galder Murals, LLC creates murals and canvases for business and residential clients.

Special Thanks:
Thank you to Visualizing Innovation’s Presenting Sponsors: Doug Hunt and John & Barb Phair.

Thank you to all of our amazing community partners who contributed their insights to our innovation conversation.

And thank you to The History Museum for honoring South Bend’s past as we look to the future.


Friday, September 2, 2022 
|  5:00–8:00 p.m. 
Please join us for this free, public reception. The reception will also celebrate the exhibitions InResidence and St. Joe Valley Watercolor Society: Inspirations. A short performance by New Industry Dance will begin at 6:30 p.m. The performance will be approximately 15 minutes long. No RSVP is necessary. 

Please join us for Lunchtime Artists Talks at the SBMA, featuring the artists from the exhibition. Bring your lunch along if you’d like; we will provide water, coffee, and tea and a place to sit and enjoy your lunch while hearing about the artist’s process. All talks are free and take place 12:00–1:00 p.m. RSVP required.
Federico Rodriguez  |  Wednesday, August 31, 2022  |  RSVP here
Alex Van Galder  |  Wednesday, September 7, 2022  |  RSVP here
Lauren Steinhofer  |  Wednesday, September 14, 2022  |  RSVP here
Cassandra Graber  |  Wednesday, September 21, 2022  |  RSVP here

Sunday, September 25, 2022  |  2:00–5:00 p.m.  |  RSVP here
Sponsored by the Art League
In this free event, Alex Ann Allen will talk about her work in the exhibition. RSVP required.

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Alex Ann Allen, The Vortex (detail)

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