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Indy Airport Arts Program to Highlight Black Experiences

Murals, artifacts, textiles and more showcase talent, historical perspectives

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 9, 2022) – Black History Month is a perfect time to check out the wide variety of art now on display at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND), with many local Black artists’ work shown in big, bold and vibrant ways that tell the story of Black history, experiences, culture and community in our state and nation.

Images of Hoosier legends like Madam C.J. Walker and Marshall “Major” Taylor have a significant presence among the terminal’s art displays, treating airport guests to a visual history lesson. Handcrafted artifacts and contemporary artwork from the Purdue Black Cultural Center give airport guests a glimpse into the cultural influence of Black artisans across time and place, while Kings of the Castle and redLINES open travelers’ eyes to the daily cultural connections and challenges that have shaped Indianapolis communities. And Moments of Solace II provides a look at personal discovery through the lens of growing up as a Black man.

“The Indy airport has one of the largest art programs featuring local artists among airports in the United States,” said IAA Executive Director Mario Rodriguez. “Public art is far beyond decoration. It tells our story, presents our city and its history to visitors, and it leverages the talent and vision of local artists to inspire and push us to keep evolving as a community.”

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

The following featured art exhibits will be on display during Black History Month and throughout 2022.

Purdue Black Cultural Center (Civic Plaza)
This exhibition contains a sample portion of the Purdue Black Cultural Center's vast collection of artwork and artifacts, celebrating life across the global geographical displacement of Black peoples and culture via the forces of history. Items include contemporary artwork, antiquities from many African countries, cultural products such as clothing and jewelry, musical instruments, and collectibles from the BCC's historic 53-year presence on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus.

redLINES (Concourse A)

A 426-foot-long quilt, by local artist and community organizer LaShawnda Crowe Storm, originally supported a community-based food justice project in 2019 as a table runner. This piece asks travelers to consider the historical harm of redlining practices, its current impact, and what decades of disinvestment now mean for those in Indianapolis who suddenly find themselves in the midst of rapid reinvestment.

Moments of Solace II (Concourse B)

Indianapolis-based Matthew Cooper’s mixed media artwork is equal parts creation and destruction. His process leverages the tedious, physical act of building up his paintings with layers of collected materials, like paper and cardboard, as well as paint, mimics the emotional work he experiences as he is creating. His paintings show Black people engaging in ordinary, even joyful activities, inspired by his own life and upbringing. Each artwork is a discovery in which he hopes to unearth personal truths that also speak to the heart of human experience and vulnerability.

Kings of the Castle (Concourse Connector)

Local artist Kevin Wilson’s Norman Rockwell style 50-foot vinyl mural 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.

World’s Fastest (Civic Plaza)

This mural, at more than 11-feet high and 22-feet long, was unveiled at the Indy airport on Dec. 7, 2021, and showcases the talents of artist Shawn Michael Warren, with photography from Joe Vondersaar. The mural honors the life, courage, talent and advocacy of Marshall “Major” Taylor, a born-and-raised Hoosier who became the first Black American world champion professional cyclist. This mural is based on the artists’ Bicentennial Legends five-story mural exhibited on the side of the Barnes & Thornburg building in downtown Indianapolis.

Entrepreneurs Awakening: The Making of a Legacy (Civic Plaza)

This masterpiece mural, at 11-feet high and more than 75-feet long is the original creation of locally based Tasha Beckwith and was named an Indianapolis Bicentennial Community Project. It honors the life, achievements and social influence of Madam C. J. Walker and her contributions as the first self-made Black female millionaire who made a lasting impact on the physical, social, cultural, and economic legacy of Indiana Avenue, the iconic Walker Theatre, and the City of Indianapolis.

In addition to art that tells the story of Black experiences, the IND Arts & Culture Program also features more than 21 art exhibits currently on temporary display at the Indy airport, including the College Football Playoff Foundation: Indiana Arts Educators exhibit (KIND Gallery), What Happens After (Sensory Rooms on Concourses A and B), Finding Joy (Concourse Connector), Ride Through Indy(Baggage Claim escalators), TomorrowScope (North Garden), vinyl murals covering construction walls and more. Additional experiences in the terminal highlight the vibrant music and literature scene in Indianapolis.

To learn more about the featured artists and the IND Arts & Culture Program, click here.