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Art & Activism: Black Lives Matter art to be displayed at new exhibit in Indiana State Museum

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Posted at 6:47 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 08:54:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly one year after the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed in the summer of 2020, the Indiana State Museum is reflecting on what happened and why.

Artwork flooded downtown Indianapolis, as local artists collaborate with businesses that boarded up storefront windows. They painted murals over them along Massachusetts Avenue that celebrated the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the time, local artists, Elijah Norwood and Gentry Parker created “Take A Stand” — an interactive piece meant for people who walked by to stand in the frame and take a stand against racial injustice.

“We were thinking this is a service that we are creating,” Norwood said. “A service for the community, a service for Indianapolis, saying that the city is behind taking a stand and fighting for Black people.”

“It was really important that as we saw this taking place, that it was being captured and recorded,” Kisha Tandy, Indiana State Museum curator of social history said.

Curators at the Indiana State Museum also took notice, going out themselves and photographing the images then as they were being created.

“They were meant to be temporary,” Tandy said. “But the impetus behind them, the movement, the reasons, that information in those discussions continue today.”

This prompted a brand new exhibit that will open June 5 titled, “RESPONSE: Images and Sounds of a Movement,” looking at what occurred in the summer of 2020 and why.

“We are looking at the idea of response, how do we respond, how did the artist respond, how did the community respond to what was taking place,” Tandy said.

The imagery then provided a sense of hope after the protests and opened the door to some tough conversations that are now set to continue in the State Museum.

“The fact that a mural with this kind of content, and multiple murals with this kind of content, is going up in a museum I think shows where we’re at even right now,” Norwood explained. “Because these people were quick on their feet with what they did saying this needs to be in an exhibit and commemorate that moment. I don’t know if that was possible years ago.”

The Indiana State Museum will display six murals painted by local artists from last summer.

The exhibit will run June 5 through September 6 in the Legacy Theater.

Audio from the artists will also be included as part of the exhibit experience, as they talk about why and how they created their piece.

The museum will also hold a panel discussion with the artists on June 26 from 1 to 2p.m.

The Arts Council will also open “Art & Activism: One Year Later,” a curated group show at the Arts Council, on June 4.

And the Indianapolis Public Library will hold a panel discussion on June 12.

Replicas of the murals will be displayed for the discussion and available for checkout at the Indianapolis Public Library.

All exhibits and events are free and open to the public.

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

More information can be found at indianamuseum.org, indyarts.org and indypl.org.

To learn more about Elijah Norwood’s artwork, visit 22starvingartist.com.

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