Festival Highlights

For more than 25 years, the Spirit & Place Festival has served as a platform for one-of-a-kind events and performances. We invite you to explore and celebrate our history!
IUPUI Photo Library

Notable Festival Moments


Everything living needs nourishment, but we humans are a little different from other animals. We need nature’s bounty as they do, but we also need music. And dance. And poetry, literature, faith, art, stories, and each other. In 2023 the Spirit & Place Festival explored the NOURISH theme through interfaith and cross-cultural meals, meditative practices rooted in different religious traditions, Native American connections to food and language, interactive theater pieces on nourishing loved ones during times of loss, musical performances ranging from a hymn sing-a-long to a classical musical concert, outdoor wanderings, and even “buzzy” art-making. In a first ever occurrence, the Spirit & Place Festival Public Conversation was hosted as a live audience podcast for the Black Girl Eating podcast with culinary historian Michael Twitty.

Онлайн казино Vavada: вход и регистрация в казино Вавада, высокие кэшбэки, мобильное приложение, лучшие слоты!

2022: Identify

How we IDENTIFY and talk about ourselves, our communities, spiritual practices, artistic practices, and more frames how we walk in the world. Identifying one way or another expresses core and foundational aspects of our very being. Using the arts, humanities, and religion, Spirit & Place and its Central Indiana community partners explored the ideas, values, creative expressions, places, and spaces that shape who we are. Thanks to the keen eye of community advocate and photographer Wildstyle Paschall, we were even able to document the joy and vibrancy of community spaces that welcome people to identify as their whole selves! View the exhibit here.

2021: Change

2020 changed everything. We – and the world – feel changed. This change has been exhausting, exhilarating, terrifying, liberating, needed, and not enough all at once. The 2021 festival featured events dealing with change and . . . climate, religion, “truthsgiving,” ethics, Butoh dance, neighborhoods, education, and so much more. The Public Conversation featured Robert P. Jones, author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American ChristianityLeah Gunning Francis, author of Faith and Ferguson and Faith After Ferguson. Our opening night event witnessed the debut of a new jazz piano piece, “The Road,” by Christopher Pitts who was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s eponymous novel as well as the changes we humans have collectively experienced during the pandemic.

2020: Origins

Amidst a global pandemic and worldwide protests against police brutality, the Spirit & Place Festival boasted 25 virtual and hybrid events that connected audiences far and wide and included the debut of “A Brave Attempt,” a commissioned work by poet and activist Manon Voice who not only debuted a new poem, but served as emcee to our first-ever virtual Opening Night Kick-off, and joined Irish poet and theologian Padraig O’Tuama in conversation to close the festival during its annual Public Conversation.

2019: R/Evolution

The Latin revolutio and evolutio are separated by a single letter. The first means “a turn around,” implying swift or abrupt transition. The second means an “unrolling,” or “opening,” suggesting gradual transformation or blooming. Regardless, it’s all about change and in 2019 we invited the community to explore the nature of R/Evolution. Spirit & Place did so by inviting  Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times Magazine’s “The 1619 Project,” to serve as our Public Conversation speaker.

2018: Intersection

In 2018 we encouraged reflection on INTERSECTION as the place and space where the butorandalsobetweeneither, and other meets. The Public Conversation featured Zeynep Tufekci, techno-sociologist and author of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest.

Want to check out ALL our past festival awesomeness?! Scroll to the bottom to learn about all our past Public Conversation speakers, events, and Award of Awesomeness winners.


A Celebration of the Past!

2022: Identify

Historian Kathleen Belew (A Field Guide to White Supremacy), religious studies scholar Stephen Prothero (God is Not One), and former White House staffer and co-founding partner of Culture House Media, Carri Twigg, engaged in a moderated conversation examining how Americans identify.

2021: Change
Robert P. Jones, author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity and Dean of Faculty at Christian Theological Seminary Leah Gunning Francis.

2020: Origins
Poet and theologian Padraig O’Tuama and spoken word artists and activist Manon Voice.

2019: Revolution
Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times Magazine’s “The 1619 Project.’

2018: Intersection
Zeynep Tufekci, techno-sociologist and author of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest/

2017: Power
Dr. James Madison, Thomas and Kathryn Miller Professor of History Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington, Dr. Maria Hamilton Abegunde, Visiting Lecturer in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at IU-Bloomington, SongSquad, and the Indiana Historical Society Museum Theater program.

2016: Home
Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City, Allison Luthe, Executive Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, and Timothy Schmalz, sculptor (“Homeless Jesus”)

2015: Dream
Marshawn Wolley, Director of Partner Relations at VisitIndy, Rev. Anastassia Zinke, Senior Pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church, Phyllis Boyd, Executive Director Groundwork Indy, and David Sklar, Director of Governmental Affairs of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council.

2014: Journey
Bestselling writer and journalist Gail Sheehy, author of Passages and Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos Into Confidence; cancer survivor and New York Times #1 bestselling author/poet Mark Nepo; and Dr. Timothy E. Quill, Director of the Center for Ethics, Humanities and Palliative Care, University of Rochester School of Medicine.

2013: Risk
Scott Jones, ChaCha CEO & cofounder; Sarah Fisher, professional race car driver & team owner; Philip Gulley, author & minister; and David Baker, jazz performer & educator.

2012: Play
Jane McGonigal, author, futurist, game designer; and Susan Sparks, professional comedian, former trial lawyer, senior pastor of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City.

2011: The Body
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball icon; Anita Diamant, author; and Thomas Lynch, poet.

2010: Food for Thought
Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power; Frances Moore Lappe, author; and Harrell Flectcher, gardner/international artist.

2009: Inspiring Places
Former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut III, and Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman.

2008: Exploring Imagination
Producer, writer, and director Julie Dash; author, songwriter, and pastor Brian D. McLaren; and essayist and journalist Richard Rodriguez.

2007: Living Generously
Patty Stonesifer, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nathan Dungan, president and founder of Share Save Spend; and Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, singer, composer, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock.

2006: Tradition & Innovation
Author and human rights activist Sr. Joan Chittister, author and scholar Manning Marable, and Hoosier film writer/producer Angelo Pizzo.

2005: Moving & Staying
Poet and novelist Wendell Berry, writer and humorist Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, and award-winning journalist A’Lelia Bundles.

2004: Building and Belonging
Author Andre Dubus III, educational reformer and psychologist Howard Gardner, and theologian Renita Weems.

2003:  Remembering and Reconciling
Editor Jim Wallis, author Charles Johnson, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams.

2002: Breaking Silence
Novelist Mary Gordon, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, and critic bell hooks.

2001: Crossing Boundaries
Scholar Cornel West, novelist Jane Smiley, and author Rabbi Harold Kushner.

2000: Growing Up
Jonathan Kozol, Terry Tempest Williams, and Martin E. Marty.

1999: Changing Landscapes
Barry Lopez, Sister Helen Prejean, and Kathleen Norris.

1998: A Gathering of Voices
Peter Matthiessen, Reynolds Price, and Maxine Hong Kingston.

1997: Leaving and Returning
Thomas Keneally, Clifton Taulbert, and Joy Harjo.

1996: Thinking Out Loud about Indianapolis
Kurt Vonnegut, Dan Wakefield, and John Updike.

We’ve scanned all of our event guides since 1996! Check them out here.

From 2016 – 23 the Award of Awesomeness existed as way to recognize festival events that exemplified Spirit & Place’s values; used the arts, humanities, and religion in innovative ways; and just plain knocked it out of the park in delivering an AWESOME experience!

Your financial support is what helped fund this $1,000 community prize. Beginning in 2023, Spirit & Place began offering a $200 event stipend to all festival events. Again, YOU make this happen!

Riverside Speaks! Past, Present, and Future
Ebenezer Baptist Church & partners

Break the Chains Off! History of Hip Hop in Power and Resistance
Kheprw Institute & partners

Explore Art-omotive!
Ivy Tech Community College—Indianapolis & partners

(W)rites of Passage
Indiana Prison Writers Workshop & partners

OM: The Origin of All
Hindu Temple of Central Indiana & Santosha Yoga

Truthsgiving: Using Food to Dismantle a Colonial Myth
Eiteljorg Museum & partners

*Runner-Up: Monumental Changes History and Power in Public Art
Garfield Park Arts Center

Tell Me What You Eat and I’ll Tell You Where You’re From
The Church Within & MOTW Coffee and Pastries

*Runner-Up: The Testimony Service

Forest Bathing to Nourish the Mind, Body, & Soul
Crown Hill Heritage Foundation & Partners

Spirit & Place
Indiana University – Indianapolis
425 University Blvd., CA 003B
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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