INDIANAPOLIS — A dynamic mural of Marshall "Major" Taylor, an internationally recognized cyclist and racial justice advocate, will be painted on a building in downtown Indianapolis.
Major Taylor was announced as the first honoree for the City of Indianapolis’ “Bicentennial Legends” series in September. He joins the larger-than-life murals of Hoosier icons such as Reggie Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Mari Evans and Eva Kor that both travelers and residents have come to love about downtown Indy's cityscape.
The five-story mural will be painted on the east-facing exterior of the Barnes & Thornburg LLP building, located at 11 S. Meridian St., by artist Shawn Michael Warren. He, along with the assistance of local painter Boxx the Artist, will begin working on the mural later this spring.
The Bicentennial Murals to be painted across downtown, according to the Arts Council of Indianapolis, will depict people who embody history, civic pride, innovation, and legacy. And Major Taylor, an icon to people across the world, depicts just that for his hometown of Indianapolis.
In 1899, Major Taylor became the first African American world champion in professional cycling. He set numerous world records as the U.S. sprint champion in 1899 and 1900, and became a role model for other athletes facing racial discrimination.
“It’s important to create some form of a narrative that not only depicts Major Taylor as a world-champion cyclist, but as a stoic, unwavering individual who faced the ugliest forms of racism,” the mural's artist and creator, Shawn Michael Warren, stated in a release to WRTV.
Warren, a Chicago-based artist, was one of 54 artists from 21 states to submit concepts for Major Taylor's mural.
The Arts Council stated Warren as the right artist for the work due to his portrait montage that "captures Taylor in three stages of his career—as a youth, as an adult at his competitive peak, and upon his return to racing after a two-year hiatus."
“I wanted those who view the mural to understand the difficult task Major Taylor took on to represent and win in a sport for a country that viewed him as an inferior person," Warren said. "The three portraits display Taylor as hopeful, courageous, and determined. His humanity is just as significant as his accomplishments as an athlete.”
The funding for the mural has come from the hands of several people and organizations, including the Bicentennial Commission, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Glick Philanthropies, and others. A GoFundMe promoted through the Major Taylor Coalition also raised $10,000 in public donations and received a $20,000 donation by a Chicago-based global maker of bicycle components, SRAM LLC.
“The community support for the project has been tremendous,” Anthony Bridgeman, a member of the Major Taylor Coalition, said. “We’re thrilled to be able to honor Major Taylor in such a high-profile way in his hometown.”
The Major Taylor mural is slated to be finished later this summer.
More murals in the Bicentennial Legends series are set to be installed through 2023 with the help of public nominations. If you have an idea for a future mural in this series, click here.