'Mask Up Indy' campaign shows beauty in masking up

Posted at 2:12 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 14:14:30-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A movement is encouraging Hoosiers to mask up and protest one another, showing Hoosiers there is beauty in masking up.

The City of Indianapolis and the city's Art Council are investing in local artists for the greater good.

You may have already spotted artwork like the ones seen in the video above inside Indy restaurants and businesses. It's part of an effort to build awareness about the importance of wearing masks so that the city can make it to the other side of the pandemic.

Sometimes words are not needed to send a message. In this art, it is all about empathy.

A flower placed as a symbol of hope for growth, cardinals for Hoosier roots, and even a masked-hot air balloon for some humor among the instilled uncertainty of our times.

It's Indianapolis-based artist William Denton Ray's depiction of our society.

"It reinforces the impact of community when the characters are so close together and being safe and encouraging the community to wear masks and again the idea of a cultural group of characters coming together," Ray said.

Ray is one of six local artists taking part in the city's initiative called #MaskUpIndy. An effort to encourage everyone to wear a mask.

"The color of the art that I did is kind of happy, vibrant and hopeful," Ray said. "And the idea of that is to try to make people hopeful that we can get past this by simply wearing a mask."

For business owners like Neal Taflinger, the co-owner of "Homespun: Modern Handmade" on Mass Ave, wearing a mask will help keep his business open after what is and has been a very trying year.

"Like everyone, it has been a roller coaster," Taflinger said. "It is such a simple thing to do to reduce transmission rates. It is going to be a long time before we really have a normal anything, so anything that we can do that is small and doesn't take that much effort, we might as well."

Homespun is celebrating a decade in business this year. As it continues to honor local artists who provide all the products on his store shelves, his storefront window is covered in artwork from the #MaskUpIndy campaign.

"I hope it builds solidarity so people realize that as much as a politically divisive issue that it is, it is about public health and safety," Amanda Kingsbury, a spokesperson for the Arts Council of Indianapolis, said. "If you look at a lot of what the artists are doing, the message behind their artwork is care and concern for other people."

The city worked with the Arts Council of Indianapolis for #MaskUpIndy as a social awareness campaign to share a non-threatening, but appealing, visual call-to-action. All in the hopes of keeping the economy open and the city vibrant.

"The one by Israel Solomon right here you are seeing somebody hold flowers behind their back to present to a health care worker," Kingsbury said. "And then there is another one where the main subject is thinking of three distinct people in her life that she cares about, and her eyes are closed."

The six pieces of art, all beautiful, with a different aesthetic and style, together all share one message of hope for the future by having compassion now.

The Mask Up campaign is made possible through the $20,000 from the Federal CARES Act. That includes payment for the artists, thousands of posters and large banners that will soon be placed Downtown Indy.