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The history of Indianapolis’ “Funky Bones”

Here’s the interesting backstory behind Indy’s favorite skeletal friend.

Funky Bones sculpture in Virginia B. Fairbanks Nature Park

John Green fans will remember this art piece from “The Fault in Our Stars.”

Photo via @indystreetart

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Driving around town this month, you’ve probably seen hundreds of spooky, scary skeletons in yards, on porches, and hanging from the antennae of cars. But there’s one perennial skelly resident in Indy who’s more funky than frightening.

We’re talking, of course, about “Funky Bones,” a public artpiece located in The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park at Newfields. Here’s a bit of history behind our groovy friend.

The artists

“Funky Bones” was specifically designed for the Newfields grounds by Atelier Van Lieshout, a Dutch artist collective led by Joep van Lieshout. Lieshout stated that the piece’s concept was inspired by admiration for the Native American people and their artwork, so closely linked to nature, in contrast with “this time of rapid production and consumption.”

During visits to Newfields, Lieshout also observed visitors sitting on rocks, and decided that “Funky Bones” could provide much-needed comfortable seating options.

Funky bones art sculpture outside at 100 Acres

Fun fact: While the benches vary in length and width, they are all approximately 26 inches in height, and require regular cleaning to maintain their white color.

The construction

“Funky Bones” consists of 20 bone-shaped benches that form a large stylized human skeleton. These benches were constructed primarily from fiberglass and filled with a lightweight foam material.

To weatherproof the benches against the climate, they were coated in polyester resin and secured into the ground with concrete by the design and installation crew at Newfields after shipping from Rotterdam.

The impact

Thanks to its photogenic looks, interactive qualities, and free admission, “Funky Bones” has become a popular spot for picnickers, lovebirds, and families alike. It’s perhaps best known as the setting for a romantic picnic in the novel “The Fault in Our Stars,” by Indianapolis-based author John Green — although the scene in the film adaptation was actually shot on a recreation in Pittsburgh.

Your turn to be the artist. Have a pic of “Funky Bones” that’s funky fresh? Send it our way and we’ll shout out our faves at the end of the week.

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