INDIANAPOLIS — It's been just over a year since 18 Black artists made history by painting the Black Lives Matter mural on Indiana Avenue.
"The day that we went to do the mural on Indiana Avenue we were all there for one purpose and we worked really hard on that. Everyone put their heart and soul into it. I think we got even closer once it was defaced because it really showed how passionate we were about our work," Rebecca Robinson said.
Since August 2020, the artists have grown together and become a family.
"We've realized how much more we have in common, not only art, but community building and wanting to build our skill set and brainstorm with one another and all these things we realize we could do in an art collective and also infuse art into the community," Deonna Craig said.
Both Craig and Robinson painted the mural and are now part of the 18 Art Collective, created in July 2021.
Now, more than 100 pieces of art created by the artists in the collective are on display at the Indianapolis Art Center.
"I am proud. It brought a tear to my eye the first time I saw it just to see the progression that the art collective has gone through," Craig said.
The exhibition is called 365+.
"So if you put that together it shows that Black Lives Matter 365 and we're wanting to tell that message that yes we are artists, yes we are Black, yes we are Black artists, and this is what we have to say," Craig said.
"Having this exhibit, it's just an honor," Robinson said. "As an art collective, we've come really far. Even before that just trying to have a platform, we were all individual artists first and it's just really special to see all of us come together, showcase our work, and especially here at the art center it is just beautiful and it is mind blowing."
Moving forward, the 18 Art Collective is hoping to create programs to reach more people across Indianapolis through art.
"I teach children as well so this is art in motion, allowing me to walk the walk and talk the talk and show them that if you really want to be an artist or a creative and make this a living, here it is this is what you can do," Craig said.
The 365+ exhibition is open daily to the public and is free to attend. On October 15 at 6 p.m. a panel discussion will be held with all 18 artists.
"It's important for the community to be able to interact with the artist themselves directly, to have that intimate dialogue with them, to get first person accounts of their experiences and their insights and the emotional state that they go through not just through the work but out there in the broader community," Indianapolis Art Center President and Executive Director, Mark Williams said. "From the experience of painting the mural to what happen afterwards to how that has informed their practice today and their perspective on the community."
William hopes to continue working with the 18 Art Collective in the future. He says the Indianapolis Art Center is opening the door for the group to bring their ideas to the table and present the stories they want to tell.
You can learn more about each artist, view their work and connect with them by visiting 18ArtCollective.com.