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Multiple summer showcases to reflect on Indy's Black Lives Matter artists, one year later

Indiana State Museum, IndyPL and Arts Council to host discussions and exhibits.
Take a Stand 2.jpg
Posted at 11:24 AM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 11:30:41-04

INDIANAPOLIS — As protesters took to the streets of Indianapolis last summer to rally against police brutality, the local art community amplified the message from protesters with murals.

The murals were painted on many boards that encapsulated several local businesses protecting themselves from potential rioters.

A year later, many Indianapolis institutions want to continue honoring the Black Lives Matter muralists with not only exhibits but community discussions to increase understanding about what happened in downtown Indy and why. That includes the Indiana State Museum.

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“This artwork was so prominent, and it was initially in a space where so many people had awareness,” Cathy Ferree, president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, stated. “So it made great sense to gather some of them and tell the story of what took place in downtown Indianapolis in June 2020.”

WRTV first told readers and viewers about the Indiana State Museum moving to display the BLM mural boards in its Legacy Center last year, in August.

Now, the State Museum along with the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Public Library will hold discussions about art and activism.

All exhibits and events held by the museum, Arts Council, and IndyPL are free and open to the public. There are follows.

Indiana State Museum

The State Museum will display six murals painted by Indianapolis artists in its "RESPONSE: Images and Sounds of a Movement" from June 5 through September 6.

The murals are:

  • Blkkk Lives Don’t Matter by Mechi Shakur
  • Take a Stand by Elijah Stephen & Gentry Parker
  • 8:46 by Gary Gee
  • We the People by Gary Gee
  • Silver in the City panels by store staff
  • A mural that appeared at The Flying Cupcake created by family and friends of the store

A panel discussion will be held with the artists at the museum with the artists from 1 to 2 p.m. on June 26 in its Great Hall. The discussion will be moderated by Danica Monet, the project director for the "Murals for Racial Justice" initiative.

Arts Council of Indianapolis

A collection of newly created artwork inspired by the work of the muralist will be on display at the Art Council's Gallery 924. It's titled "Art & Activism: One Year Later."

The exhibit will open on the First Friday of June, June 4, with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The exhibit will be open to the public through July 23.

Indianapolis Public Library

The Indianapolis Public Library plans to hold a panel discussion with several of last summer's mural artists on Saturday, Jun. 12 at 1 p.m. in the Central Library's Clowes Auditorium.

Replicas of the murals will be displayed at the event, as well. IndyPL says the replicas are available for sale and can be found at indypl.org by searching "racial justice murals."

“Artists are the voices of the community, and their work can spark and encourage necessary conversations,” Judith B. Thomas, deputy mayor of neighborhood engagement for the city of Indianapolis, stated in a release. “Exhibits like ‘RESPONSE’ can be a creative way to heal and bring people together to listen and understand each other and make change.”

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Take a Stand by Elijah Stephen and Gentry Parker

The Murals for Racial Justice initiative has worked to support Black artists in the Indianapolis community. According to a release from the State Museum, the initiative, which comprised of the Arts Council, PATTERN, St’artUp 317, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, wanted to "ensure that Black artists were at the forefront of this conversation and were being offered compensation for their work."

The way in which the initiative has since supported the artists has been to partner them with business owners for commissioned work, creating donation funds for them, and commissioning 24 of artists to produce 22 murals.

A total of $26,000 was paid directly to Black Indianapolis artists through grants, gifts, and donations from local partners.

The Indianapolis Art Center and Newfields set forth to hold exhibits since last summer's protest as well following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon Reed and Mchale Rose.