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Saturday, September 18, 2021

‘Celebrate our own’: GANGGANG, Recorder partner for mural dedication

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Local artist Ashley Nora applied to work on a mural project for months. After numerous rejections, she sought out divine intervention three months ago.

“I prayed to God for someone to believe in me and my talent,” Nora said.

Just nine hours after her prayer, she got a call from Alan Bacon and Malina Jeffers.

Jeffers and Bacon, co-founders of the cultural development firm GANGGANG, wanted Nora to create a mural for their fine art fair BUTTER. Nora didn’t hesitate and in six weeks, created the first 3D mural in Indianapolis. The project was a partnership between GANGGANG and the Recorder.

Unveiled Sept. 1 at the Stutz Business Center, “Keepers of Culture” lives up to GANGGANG’s vision of elevating Black art and culture. Through layering various colors of paint to create a 3D effect (3D glasses will be available during the BUTTER), Nora immortalized eight Black icons from Indianapolis, including actress Vivica A. Fox and local creatives Rob Dixon and Mariah Ivey. The mural also pays tribute to the late Amos Brown, a longtime radio host and columnist for the Recorder.

Nora wanted the mural to “celebrate our own” and emphasized how much talent there is in Indianapolis.

Fox, a 1982 graduate of Arlington High School, thanked Nora and GANGGANG for “bringing her home.” While Fox left Indianapolis for California a month after graduating high school, she said the values her mother instilled in her growing up paved the way for her decades-long career.

Indianapolis native and actress Vivica A. Fox attended the Sept. 1 unveiling of “Keepers of Culture” and signed the mural. (Photo/Breanna Cooper)

“We lived right across the street from the church, Breeding Tabernacle on Leland [Avenue],” Fox said in an interview with the Recorder. “We were always active in the church, and my mother was always so supportive of everything I was doing, and I was always doing something. … When I told her I wanted to move to California, she said ‘OK, you need to start saving money.’ So, even then she instilled a work ethic in me, and the idea that if I wanted to achieve my dream, I had to go out and do it.”

Fox said being immortalized in the mural lets her know “that all the hard work and sacrifices I make … have paid off.”

Dixon, a jazz musician and artistic director for the Indy Jazz Fest, said he’s “honored and humbled to be recognized for what I’ve tried to do.”

The mural’s location is significant, as well. Located at the southeastern entrance of the historic Indiana Avenue — once a hub for Black life and commerce — Rep. Andre Carson said the mural celebrates the history of talent and culture in Indianapolis

“Black Hoosiers have a story to tell,” Carson said, “and we won’t be silenced.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

If you go:

BUTTER will be held at the Stutz building, 1060 N. Capitol Ave., Sept. 2-5. For tickets, visit butterartfair.com.

  • Sept. 3 — 4-10 p.m. grand opening
  • Sept. 4 — 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Sept. 5 —11 a.m.-6 p.m.
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