Skip to Content

Indy Airport Arts Program Shines Spotlight on Black Artists

IND ‘showcasing some amazing creations’ in February

Detail of Kings of the Castle by Kevin James Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 27, 2021) – Following this week’s unveiling of Indianapolis artist Tasha Beckwith’s towering mural tribute to Madam C.J. Walker, the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) is also showcasing artwork by local Black artists Kevin James Wilson and Derrick Carter. Both Wilson’s and Carter’s artwork is on display during Black History month and into 2021 and 2022. Additional artworks by local artists are also on view.

Wilson’s piece, a 50-foot vinyl mural tilted Kings of the Castle, is on display in the airport’s concourse connector through winter 2022, and portrays the practice of Black men gathering in their neighborhoods for fellowship and community, based on Wilson’s memories and a present day location of a nearby White Castle restaurant.

“It was like a country club, where Black men could speak their minds about politics, religion, women, America, etc. without repercussions,” Wilson said of his inspiration.

Wilson’s work pays homage to the style of Norman Rockwell, whom Wilson credits for inspiring much of his work today. Wilson specializes in graphite and colored pencil drawings, and is a graphic, commercial and fine arts professional. He also leads the graphic design department at the International Business College where he has taught for 22 years, and he also teaches at community-based arts organizations.

Carter’s piece, Indian-APolis, is on exhibit in the terminal’s Ticketing Hall through spring 2021. This multi-part composition, created in paint and sand, shows the convergence of Indianapolis history across 200 years. The painting title represents two epochs, with the first word “Indian” reflecting on the natural beauty, indigenous history, farming origins and remarkable innovations with Hoosier origins – such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The second part of the word, APolis, reflects the urban center of Indianapolis in both historical and current popular culture, and are composed of imagery of the downtown skyline, notable sports teams, the state bird, and a famed sculpture by native artist Robert Indiana.

“When viewed together, these paintings are a representation of the people, places, and events Indianapolis holds dear, and how we see our legacy playing out over time,” Carter said.

Carter is an Indianapolis-based painter and a former Beckmann Emerging Artist Fellow with the Arts Council of Indianapolis. His journey into art began after a long hospitalization for extensive injuries to his right side when he was 14 years old. His right arm and hand were spared; however, and Carter persevered to get his bachelor’s degree in graphic design at the Art Institute of Indianapolis and become a professional fine art painter. He uses colored sand to create his artwork, for both its textural and expressive possibilities.

Tasha Beckwith’s Entrepreneurs Awakening: The Making of a Legacy pays homage to the life and achievement of Madam C.J. Walker and is on display in Civic Plaza, well into 2022. Beckwith’s mural received an outpouring of community and media interest earlier this week when it was unveiled to the public in its full 11-feet high and 75-feet wide magnificence. Beckwith designed the mural to show Madam Walker’s legacy with figures of contemporary Black women inspiring them and – men and women of all backgrounds – to follow their dreams as Walker did and become their generation’s own Madam C.J. Walker. Beckwith artfully scattered quotes throughout the mural in Madam Walker’s own words.

“Although spoken and written more than a hundred years ago, they still carry meaning for us today,” said Beckwith.

Beckwith’s artistic resume also includes art design for the 2020 census and #MaskUpIndy campaigns, and the neighborhood history mural inside the brand-new Martindale-Brightwood branch of the Indianapolis Public Library.

A Commitment to Arts, Culture

The Indianapolis Airport Authority works in partnership with the Arts Council of Indianapolis to showcase a full range of Indiana-based artists and their artwork at the Indianapolis International Airport.

“The airport is an incredible public asset, a partner in the community and the gateway to Indy and Central Indiana,” said IAA Executive Director Mario Rodriguez. “Public art is a crucial part of how we connect people to place, time and culture. Our arts program has been in place for more than a decade, and has exhibited – as with Tasha, Kevin and Derrick – Indiana’s most talented local artists, showcasing some amazing creations to inspire travelers visiting our city or returning home.”

Additional new artwork on display at the Indy airport this month includes a vinyl mural, a video animation collaboration, paintings, and a textile.

Finding Joy. Molly Meier’s 50-foot reproduced painting on vinyl is a visual process of emotion come to life in a tangible form. A licensed mental health counselor and a registered art therapist, Meier uses color and lines, and her professional experiences and knowledge, to create works of art that reflect her healing interactions with clients, and bring her balance and grounding. Meier, an Indianapolis resident, holds bachelor’s degree in studio art with a focus in ​ceramic sculpture from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in art therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Meier’s work is exhibited post-security in the concourse connector through winter 2022.

“The landscape of our emotions is expressed here through the colors playing off of each other, some raw and rugged when we are struggling, while others are filled with energy and vibrance on our best days,” said Meier.

On the White River. This video animation is a first-time collaboration between sisters Megan Jefferson (Indianapolis) and Kate Nartker, celebrating the role of the White River in the development and character definition of Indianapolis. Jefferson and Nartker combined their talents with color, form, fiber and weaving to bring landscape to life in telling stories and honoring the courage of exploration. The video is displayed on the video monitor above the escalators heading down to baggage claim through summer 2021.

“The result is an overall feeling of serenity, calm, and awe derived from the flow of the river and a glimpse of the wildlife it nourishes,” said the artists.

The sisters created individual pieces inspired by the many walks and experiences on the White River. A collection of ten paintings titled Inspiration from the White River by Jefferson is located post-security in Concourse B. A textile work titled Overshottt by Nartker is on display post-security in Concourse A.

To learn more about these artists, and others previously showcased via the IND Arts Program, click here.