‘Murals for Racial Justice’ uses artwork to inspire, educate central Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis streets filled with protestors in the summer of 2020 as people came together to call for the end of police brutality. Businesses boarded up, giving space for local artists like Matthew Cooper to express his emotions through painting.

“Artists really turned Indianapolis into a gallery overnight,” Cooper explained. “It was huge. Things of this nature need to continue.”

Cooper transformed the plywood at the Old City Hall on North Alabama Street to portray a wrongfully convicted Black man and two Black women.

“My work is all about uplifting the Black community,” Cooper added.

His work, along with the many others, are now part of the city’s history. While the murals downtown may have been taken down, their message remains, and the artists are inviting you to join the conversation.

“It’s since transformed into a question of what do we do with these murals? They’re massive, they’re beautiful, they’re important, they’re powerful, and they’re potent,” said Danicia Monet, the project manager for Murals for Racial Justice. “How does the city begin to have conversation about this? How do the artists have conversation about this?”

Monet calls it memorializing the moment. Before the murals came down, the Arts Council of Indianapolis had them photographed to be part of an exhibit at the Indianapolis Public Library.

“We wanted to find the thing that would carry these works of art into the future for decades to come,” Monet added.

Since COVID-19 has impacted people from going inside the Central Library to see the large, vinyl replicas of 28 murals, they’ve had to do what they do best, get creative.

“The public can check these out,” Monet explained. “So, anyone who has access to a library card, this is the most democratic way that I’ve seen any city speak to this moment.”

Through the Murals for Racial Justice project, the hope is that people check out the art to use at school, at their home or a community event to educate and spark important conversations.

“Look back at this time and reflect on it and see where we can go forward and see what we can do better,” said Cooper

Monet and Cooper want people to remember what happened while celebrating the good that came from it.

“We have to continue to have conversations about meeting in the middle, finding ways to honor everyone’s lives so no one is taken away from us too soon because the color of their skin, because of their sexual orientation, because of their religion belief. Everyone should be able to walk the world safely and securely in who they are,” said Monet.

To reserve a vinyl banner at no-cost through the Indianapolis Public Library, click here. If you want to learn more about the Murals for Racial Justice initiative, click here.

Along with showcasing the murals to the community, the Arts Council of Indianapolis and BlackSpace Indianapolis have partnered to host “Equity in the Arts and Humanities.” It’s a community conversation initiative with Murals for Racial Justice to continue to the dialogue about inclusion, equity and liberation.

There are two more conversations coming up in March and May to attend. See the event poster below:

According to the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ website, the artists with work on display through the Murals for Racial Justice Project are:

  • Kaila Austin
  • Shade’ Bell
  • Boxx the Artist
  • Matthew Cooper
  • Tashema Davis
  • Ess McKee
  • Gary Gee
  • Michael ALKEMI Jordan
  • Nasreen Khan
  • Alana Lopez
  • Latoya Marlin
  • Mike Palmore Martin aka Kwazar
  • Amiah Mims
  • Quiana Quarles
  • Omar Rashan
  • Rebecca Robinson
  • Mechi Shakur
  • Israel Solomon
  • Aaron “Ezi” Underwood aka Starboy Xio
  • Terry Wilson
  • Shane “FITZ” Young

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