Indy Airport Unveils Towering Mural Celebrating Madam C.J. Walker
Tasha Beckwith delivers ‘an incredible piece of artwork’ worthy of its subject
INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 23, 2021) – The Indianapolis Airport Authority unveiled a massive mural in the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) today, depicting the legendary entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker’s lasting impact on the physical, social, cultural and economic legacy of Indiana Avenue, the iconic Walker Theatre and the City of Indianapolis.
The mural, at 11-feet high and more than 75-feet long, titled Entrepreneurs Awakening: The Making of a Legacy, is an Indiana original work of art that honors Madam Walker’s life and lasting contribution as the first self-made Black female millionaire and the ultimate Indy entrepreneurial inspiration.
“This endeavor has been in the works for more than a year, and it took a diverse group of community partners and talented individuals to bring it to life,” said Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director Mario Rodriguez. “It is an incredible piece of artwork, worthy to represent the tremendous inspiration Madam Walker is to the history of American entrepreneurship and our great city.”
The IAA partnered with the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the Madam Walker Legacy Center to curate the mural, selecting a local artist whose rendition of the theme begins with Madam Walker’s humble beginnings as Sarah Breedlove and morphs into her status as the wealthy and prominent Walker sharing her success with other Black women.
Tasha Beckwith, an Indianapolis-based visual artist, was selected by the IAA’s public art selection committee from a nationwide call to create the mural, which was designed digitally and printed on adhesive vinyl. Beckwith’s creation is on display pre-security in Civic Plaza inside the Indy airport terminal and should be available to the public well into 2022.
“When I first started the concept, I asked myself what Madam C.J. Walker meant to me, as a black woman born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana,” said Beckwith.
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 Indianapolis Public Library.
The project is also recognized as an official Bicentennial Community Project by the Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission. The commission endorsed the Madam Walker legacy mural project in October 2020, stating this artwork specifically connects to Indianapolis’ bicentennial history, will be readily open and accessible to the public and is fully funded by the IAA.
“The restoration of the Madam Walker Legacy Center, and the partnerships created to ensure its sustainability, demonstrate this community’s dedication to preserving and honoring the legacy of our most influential leaders,” said Madam Walker Legacy Center Board Chairperson Joyce Q. Rogers, Esquire. “This mural prominently displays our namesake for all to learn from and enjoy. It truly takes a village and we are thankful to our partners for uplifting a rising star in our local arts community and aligning her with the empowering and inspirational legacy of Madam C.J. Walker.”
The event was captured on the Indy airport’s Facebook Page via live video.