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Indy Airport Dedicates Mural Honoring Major Taylor

Taylor’s ‘humanity is just as significant as his accomplishments as an athlete’

INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 7, 2021) – Airport officials, community members and cycling enthusiasts came together today at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) to dedicate a mural, on exhibit in the terminal honoring 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.

Major Taylor, for whom the city’s Major Taylor Velodrome Park landmark venue is named after, was a trailblazer and inspiring example for Black athletes of his era who faced racial barriers -- and he continues to inspire today.

“This is a perfect addition to IND’s arts program, which introduces travelers to the stories of Indiana’s legends and inspiring Hoosiers who make up the fabric of our history, our communities and our culture,” said Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director Mario Rodriguez.

The exhibition is part of a larger, ongoing cultural collaboration between the Indianapolis Airport Authority and the Arts Council of Indianapolis, making up a combination of permanent and temporary art collections displayed in both public access and post-security areas at the Indy airport. Many of the collections were created by artists who live in Indiana or have ties to the Hoosier state, or who showcase Hoosier legends, like Major Taylor or Madam C.J. Walker.

The temporary vinyl mural, titled World’s Fastest, is 22.5 feet wide and 11.5 feet tall and showcases the talents of artist Shawn Michael Warren, with photography from Joe Vondersaar, and is based on the artists’ Bicentennial Legends five-story mural exhibited on the side of the Barnes and Thornburg building in downtown Indianapolis. Indy-based painter, Boxx the Artist, assisted Warren with the large-scale civic mural, and currently has a temporary vinyl mural on display in Concourse B, titled Universe, installed as part of the Swish mural series.

The mural is expected to be on display for at least a year in the airport’s public gathering area, called Civic Plaza, and joins another temporary mural, Entrepreneurs Awakening: The Making of a Legacy, which was installed this February honoring Madam Walker’s life and lasting contribution as the first self-made Black female millionaire and the ultimate Indy entrepreneurial inspiration. Arriving and departing travelers can now experience both Indiana legends.

Warren, who is based in Chicago, earned his BFA at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and studied at the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. He uses historic themes or narratives to communicate essential human truths, and to initiate uncomfortable conversations surrounding race, socio-political subjects and culture.

“It’s imperative that those who view the mural 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,” said Warren. “His humanity is just as significant as his accomplishments as an athlete.”

Warren was one of 54 artists from 21 states who applied for the Major Taylor mural commission in downtown Indy. His design features a triple-portrait montage that captures Taylor in three stages of his athletic career—as a youth, as an adult during his competitive peak, and upon his return to racing after a two-year hiatus. The downtown mural was originally funded with support from the City of Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission, Barnes & Thornburg, Glick Philanthropies, the CIBA Foundation, and public donations to the Major Taylor Coalition, matched by SRAM Corporation.

Today’s dedication event included IAA officials and leadership from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the City of Indianapolis, and cycling organization SRAM.

To learn more about the IND Arts Program, click here.