Paint and virtual composition Dance with the Landlord. Photos by Jaime Sweany


In 1984, Ransom Haile moved to Bloomington because of the “richness of its culture and the southern Indiana landscape.” The Indianapolis funk band in which he played guitar was on hiatus, and he soon saw the musical possibilities in Bloomington.

He performed first with the Deadbeats, then with the Zulu Beatniks, and most notably with The Dynamics. “I had a unique rhythmic approach, a percussive slap-and-pop technique,” says Haile, 65. In 1990, the band won the W.C. Handy Blues Music Award in Memphis, Tennessee.

The artist, Ransom Haile.

More recently, most of Haile’s art has been visual: sculptures, drawings, tattoos, paintings, and photographs. Haile operated External Designs, a tattoo shop on North Walnut, for eight years. He’s sold and published photographs since the ’70s, and his photos illustrate Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves (University of California Press, 2001), an ethnography of U.S. neo-paganism written by religious studies professor Sarah M. Pike.

Haile now focuses on multimedia digital collages. “Digital art is practical,” he says. “You can do it anywhere. I enjoy finding the tricks of it. I’ve found some unique ones.”

A single collage might consist of original photography, acrylic paint, Magic Marker drawing, and public domain images on canvas. “It’s kind of a folk art,” Haile says. Subjects include jazz and blues, antiques, fading memories, nostalgia, and the environment.

Haile’s “Widescreen Luminaires” will be on display at the I Fell Gallery, 415 W. 4th St., through April, and at Juniper Art Gallery in Spencer, Indiana, through May.