When downtown stores and businesses were boarded up over the summer to prevent property damage during protests, local artists saw an opportunity to create. The Arts Council of Indianapolis and arts organization Pattern paired local Black artists with business owners to create racial justice-themed murals on storefronts.
Thanks to a partnership between the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the Center for Black Literature and Culture, 28 mural replicas are available to check out from the Indianapolis Public Library.
“Local artists poured their hearts into these murals,” Nichelle M. Hayes, special collections librarian and founding leader of the CBLC, said in a statement. “As the buildings start to open again, we want to preserve these paintings that capture what we, as a community, were experiencing during these challenging and transformative times.”
The banners, which are high-resolution prints of the murals, will be on display at the library through Jan. 20, 2021, and are 3-by-5-foot vinyl pieces. Library patrons can request and pick up the murals from any Indianapolis library branch to display at home, businesses or events. Eight murals can be checked out at a time for 42 days. The banners can’t be renewed, but they are exempt from late fees.
Polina Osherov, executive director of Pattern, said there were already plans to paint storefronts before the pandemic and protests. However, after the first weekend of protests, they wanted to draw attention to the Black Lives Matter cause and give Black artists an opportunity to make their voices heard through creativity. When the murals were removed, they were displayed in various cultural centers and galleries throughout the city.
Among the murals you can check out is “Rejoice” by Shade Bell.
Bell’s piece was on display at the Homespun shop on Massachusetts Avenue. Bell signed on to the project because she wanted to get involved in the protests and share her thoughts on issues such as Black Lives Matter and police brutality.
Through “Rejoice,” which depicts a group of Black people under a wide sun, Bell hopes her message of unity and hope will speak to people for years to come.
“I wanted to make the painting something that you’ll have to look at and to feel and reflect on the current state of the world at the moment,” Bell said in a previous interview. “My message? Black lives matter. You matter. Be unapologetically yourself.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.