Southern Indiana

The Jeffersonville Public Art commission is throwing a block party on Saturday where a few special neighbors will trot the runway.

The Amplify the Arts event will showcase the commission’s 2022 programs lineup. There’ll be food vendors, music and a fashion show.

The models are all miniature horses.

Public Art Administrator Emily Dippie said the idea came after she saw costumes made by seamstress Tammy Burke for Opening Gates, a nonprofit that incorporates horses into therapy sessions.

“Tammy and I just started joking and we were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we did an art-themed one?’” Dippie said. “’Oh, wouldn’t it be so funny if we put them in a Shakespearean costume since we’re doing Shakespeare in the Park?’”

Shara Wiesenauer, the president of Opening Gates, said horses are a useful tool for helping children explore their behaviors and emotions.

“They’re just naturally therapeutic,” Wiesenauer said. “They’re big, they’re calm. Even the minis are calm. They’re non-judgmental. They are present, so when you’re working with them, they’re not off looking at something else. They’re focused on you.”

When they’re not assisting in therapy sessions, Wiesenauer said the mini horses participate in community events, like Saturday’s, through the group’s Spreading Joy program. They’ve done fashion shows before, including one for Valentine’s Day.

The little equine outfits on Saturday are themed around the arts. Wiesenauer said they include one designed to look like a book.

“And the title is called ‘Mini Doesn’t Mean Less,’” she said. “And that’s kind of a common theme that we use here with self-esteem issues. It doesn’t matter how small you are. It doesn’t matter how tiny you are. You’re still as important as anyone else. You’re still as strong as anyone else.

Models include Teke, Hinkle and Sebastian, formerly known as Lil’ Sebastian, named after the beloved character from Parks and Recreation. 

The Jeffersonville High School band will kick off the block party at the NoCo Arts and Cultural District with a performance at 1 p.m., followed by the fashion show.

John Boyle is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. John’s coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, Community Foundation of Southern Indiana and Samtec, Inc.

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.