About Us

We are a 501(c)(3) non profit organization created "To provide a place for 3-Dimensional artists to create their art and develop their careers; to foster appreciation for the arts in the community; to foster cultural awareness, creativity and positive self esteem with outreach programs"

We need and welcome your support if you feel we are a community asset.

We provide for the community a place to see exhibitions and artists demonstrations, attend lectures, tour the working artist's studio areas, or take workshops. A demonstration or visit for your school, university, or organization may be arranged.

For 3D artists of all skill levels we provide a well-equipped studio and space where they can create their work, a showroom to share it with the community, our workshops and a mentoring program so they can broaden their skills, and a gathering place for shared values, ideas, support, and friendship. We are also a location for community activities and events.

Our hours are Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

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Our Beginnings

In 2004, a group of 3-dimensional artists led by sculptor Lane Laffoon, with the help of sculptor Tuck Langland, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University South Bend, were looking for a building with enough space for a small foundry, metal working, ceramics, and a gallery area. Lane, working with the South Bend Redevelopment Commission, did the legwork of investigating abandoned buildings the city owned.

A perfect fit -- the 8,500 square foot building at the corner of Colfax and Sycamore -- was originally acquired by the city to tear down and expand parking for development on the other side of Colfax. We are fortunate their development was delayed. In August 2004, the Redevelopment Commission gave temporary use of the building to East Race Fire Arts, a for-profit organization, with the responsibility for insuring, cleaning and maintaining it in a safe condition, pending demolition; they could have come in at any time and said, "You have to be out in six months."

Thirteen artists pooled their money (for insurance, building materials, gas, electric, water, tools, and equipment) and invested a great deal of sweat equity into the building. The roof leaked, the building was full of trash and the pipes leaked. And, the roof caught on fire once.

Fire Arts saved the city money on maintaining the building and demolition costs and helped toward the Redevelopment Commission's goal of establishing an arts corridor, bringing more people downtown. Toward the end of the year, it was decided that we would be more viable as a not-for-profit organization.

During our first few short years, we have had a cultural exchange of artists from the Sculpture Department of the Thailand National Arts Office, we have hosted a bus-load of visitors from Nathan Manilow Sculpture park in Illinois, as well as friends of the Snite at Notre Dame, Hoosier Art Patrons, the Sons of Norway, and art classes from Saint Joseph High School, ITT, Ivy Tech and IUSB. We have brought regional artists to town to share their work in our showroom, and have hosted lectures by regional and nationally-known artists about their work. For the second year in a row we have shared our space with young people from our local Down Syndrome community to create ceramic tiles for a fund-raising auction for Down's research.

The city of South Bend was so happy with what transpired at 305 E. Colfax, that in 2008 they offered to sell us the building.

We continue to improve our offerings to the community in the form of classes and artistic/intellectual events. In collaboration with our generous neighbor, developer David Mathews, and others from the community, we look forward to serving the city of South Bend for many years to come.

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Board Members

  • Ralph Lampkin Jr. - President
  • Yvonne Desrosiers - Vice President
  • Marilyn Shaul - Treasurer
  • Jackie Carlson - Secretary
  • Julie Neises - Artist Liaison
  • Chuck Leone
  • Kay Westhues
  • George Stump

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Fire Arts / Dowagiac

Fire Arts and the city of Dowagiac, Michigan, have a special connection in the arts. Dowagiac has seven outdoor sculptures by nationally know artists like Richard Hunt, Nina Akamu, Rosetta, Bob Guelich and Tuck Langland, a Fire Arts founding member. Dowagiac has already contracted for five more sculptures – and this is in a town with less than 7,000 residents! It was a natural fit for a town that loves sculpture to pair up with a 3D studio.

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Community Events

At Fire Arts, we also organize our own events for the community. We hosted Fiddlers Hearth, who made their award-winning Samon of Knowledge St. Patrick’s Day float in our facility. We were the scene of the two-week Thai Fest when we hosted four artists who were sent by the government of Thailand to learn our bronze casting techniques. Using volunteer interpreters from the University of Notre Dame and others in the community, the Thai artists presented a slide show of their work. The public also joined them at social events and watched as they created portraits of local celebrities. They returned to Thailand feeling they had made good friends halfway around the world.

Another community event occurred by accident, as four artists worked simultaneously on large art projects in our facilities. Some local residents came every week or two to watch the progress of Tuck Langland’s 11-foot sculptural figures of a mother, baby and grandmother for the Woman’s Hospital of Texas, the Dave Blodgett and Linda Crimson 33-foot long mural for a hospital in California, and Kathy Reddy White’s artistry as she turned 100 plain chairs into cheerful, colorful furniture for a new Hacienda Restaurant.

Click here to read our MISSION, VISION and VALUES.

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For Art Production

Our open studio is roughly divided into a sculpture side and a pottery side. The sculpture side has areas for modeling in clay, woodworking, rubber mold-making, plaster work, wax casting, and a metal finishing area with a chop saw, sand blaster and welding equipment. The pottery side has wheels (some potters bring their own), work tables, glazes and ingredients to create glazes. Our kiln room is where the two sides meet with eletric and gas kilns for pottery and a wax burnout kiln and metal melting furnace for sculptors. We also have a growing jewelers area with small kilns, where artists and students can explore silversmithing, engraving, and other techniques.

Interested in becoming an Artist-in-Residence?

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For Art Education

Our facilities can supplement your art education program. Our facilities are unique in the area for bronze casting. Students in traditional public school settings or who are home-schooled may want to take advantage of what we offer. At least one of our artists will be here to facilitate the operation.

Schools or organizations may arrange for a lecture tour, with or without demonstrations. Organizations may arrange for meeting space at Fire Arts. We have a microwave and refridgerator to accommodate you.

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Video - Bronze casting at Fire Arts

Do you want to know how a bronze sculpture is created at Fire Arts? Watch this video of resident artist Yvonne Desrosiers creating a 3/4 life sized sculpture of a cougar. The finished sculpture was installed in the atrium of New Prairie Middle School in New Carlisle, IN.

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