Released May 5, 2021
One Year After the George Floyd Protests, State Museum, Arts Council and Public Library Will Reflect On What Happened and Why
One year after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, the Indiana State Museum, Arts Council of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Public Library will reflect on the resulting protests that occurred in our city by presenting exhibitions of murals painted during the protests and holding discussions to increase community understanding of what occurred and why.
The Indiana State Museum will display six murals painted by Indianapolis artists in an exhibition called “RESPONSE: Images and Sounds of a Movement,” June 5-Sept. 6 in Legacy Theater. The murals are: Blkkk Lives Don’t Matter by Mechi Shakur (Demetrius Green); Take a Stand by Elijah Stephen (Elijah Norwood) & Gentry Parker; 8:46 by Gary Gee; We the People by Gary Gee; Silver in the City panels by store staff; and a mural that appeared at The Flying Cupcake created by family and friends of the store.
The State Museum will also hold a panel discussion with the artists, moderated by Danicia Monet, project director for the Murals for Racial Justice initiative, from 1-2 p.m. June 26 in the museum’s Great Hall.
The Arts Council will open “Art & Activism: One Year Later,” a curated group show at Gallery 924 at the Arts Council, 924 N. Pennsylvania St. The exhibition of newly created work, inspired by the visual conversations the artists created on downtown boarded-up storefronts, will explore the role of activism in art. “Art & Activism” will open with a First Friday reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 4. The public can view the exhibition at Gallery 924 during weekday business hours through July 23. More information can be found at indyarts.org.
The Indianapolis Public Library will hold a panel discussion at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 12, in the Central Library’s Clowes Auditorium with several of the artists whose murals appear in the State Museum and Arts Council exhibitions. (Due to COVID-19 restrictions, capacity will be limited.) Replicas of the murals will be displayed for the discussion and are available for checkout at the Indianapolis Public Library. To place a hold on a mural for checkout, patrons can search “racial justice murals” in the indypl.org catalog and request them for pickup at any of IndyPL’s 23 locations.
Broken storefront windows in downtown Indianapolis following the nationwide, multi-day protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers presented both a challenge and an opportunity. Artists, businesses and organizations wanted to express their support for racial and social justice by creating murals on plywood panels that had been installed over the windows. The murals were meant to be temporary, yet their message and imagery continue to reverberate throughout the city and country.
“This artwork was so prominent, and it was initially in a space where so many people had awareness,” said Cathy Ferree, president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. “So it made great sense to gather some of them and tell the story of what took place in downtown Indianapolis in June 2020.”
The Murals for Racial Justice initiative came together to begin the healing process by erecting both supportive and socially challenging images. The Arts Council of Indianapolis, along with partners PATTERN, St’artUp 317, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, saw the opportunity to come alongside artists as their allies and to support this organic, community-led initiative. Their primary goal was to ensure that Black artists were at the forefront of this conversation and were being offered compensation for their work.
The partners gathered information from Black artists who were interested in participating and began connecting them to business owners, who were encouraged to pay the artists for their time. In the event the business/building owner was unable to cover the artist’s fee due to the impact of COVID-19-related business closures, the Arts Council collected donated funds to pay the artist.
Twenty-four Black artists were commissioned to produce 22 murals through the collaborative effort. Funding for this effort came together as quickly as the murals themselves. The Arts Council initially seeded the fund with $2,500, along with $1,500 from St’artUP 317, and received gifts and pledges from corporate partners including Jiffy Lube of Indiana, the Lacy Foundation, and AES Corporation; and from individual donors including an organized effort from Arts Council board members.
The Central Indiana Community Foundation Artist Ambassadors provided a matching grant to each commissioned artist, allowing for a more appropriate pay scale for each commission. A total of just over $26,000 was paid directly to Black Indianapolis artists. Additional funding from Glick Philanthropies enabled the partnership with the Indianapolis Public Library and the library’s Center for Black Literature and Culture to make reproductions of the murals available for the public to check out for private use and community events.
“Artists are the voices of the community, and their work can spark and encourage necessary conversations,” said Judith B. Thomas, deputy mayor of neighborhood engagement for the city of Indianapolis. “Exhibits like ‘RESPONSE’ can be a creative way to heal and bring people together to listen and understand each other and make change.”
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About the Indiana State Museum
The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is a statewide museum system with 12 locations, offering visitors a chance to engage with Indiana’s past and present and see how their actions help shape the future. At each location, visitors are invited to explore big questions and create lasting experiences that will resonate long after each visit ends. Whether interested in art or architecture, history or science, there’s something for everyone and every interest. The Indianapolis museum is located in White River State Park in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. The historic sites are located statewide, stretching from Rome City in northeastern Indiana to Evansville in the southwest.
About the Arts Council of Indianapolis
About the Indianapolis Public Library
The Indianapolis Public Library is the center of knowledge, community life, and innovation for residents of Indianapolis, Lawrence, Beech Grove, and Marion County, Indiana. Operating in 23 locations along with a Bookmobile and circulating over 14 million items annually, the Library provides materials, programs and services in support of lifelong learning for residents of all ages and backgrounds.