For 33 years, Indianapolis Public Library has provided Black artists of every medium an opportunity to share their work with the community through its Meet the Artists event. With COVID-19 still raging, the library had to take inspiration from the artists and get creative.
Meet the Artists XXXIII will be held virtually. Starting with an opening celebration Jan. 28, people can follow along on Facebook or YouTube through March 27 as musicians, dancers, painters and more showcase their craft.
This year’s theme — “All-star” — is in honor of the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Game, originally scheduled to be held in Indianapolis in February and canceled because of the pandemic.
“We wanted to highlight all the all-stars in the Black community,” Keshia McEntire, public relations specialist for the Indianapolis Public Library, said.
McEntire said the library has been hosting virtual events through the pandemic and has received positive feedback. A virtual Meet the Artists, she said, is a way to get more of the community involved in the festivities.
Along with viewing artwork and listening to local musicians, people will be able to participate in virtual art classes and watch a fashion show. Art from each visual artist can be viewed on the library website.
Kenneth Hordge displayed his oil pastel paintings at Meet the Artists events in the past, but this will be the first time he participates in a virtual art gallery.
“I’m excited to see what comes from it,” Hordge said. “It’ll be something different, and I’m intrigued about the process.”
Hordge, 41, is finishing up a portrait of Malcolm X to include in the online event. Previously, he’s painted portraits of slain rappers Nipsey Hussle and Tupac, whom he said he enjoyed painting because he’s a fan of their work.
To help support the artists taking part in the event, the library is creating a program for guests that will include contact information for each artist.
While Hordge doesn’t typically pull from current events for inspiration, it’s hard to ignore the impact COVID-19 has had on the local arts community. From canceled gigs to a decrease in art sales, creatives — like most Americans — are feeling the effects of the pandemic in their wallets.
While buying an album or a painting may not be a possibility for many Hoosiers right now, Hordge said social media and events like Meet the Artists is a great way to help artists right now.
“People think you can only support artists by buying artwork, but that’s not true,” Hordge said. “Don’t get me wrong, we love when you buy our work, but it’s as simple as sharing and talking about our work. Social media is big nowadays, so just share the work and get it out to other people who might not see it otherwise.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.