How Newfields’ We. The Culture changed to center Black artists

During 2020’s summer of protests on downtown pavement, 18 artists took to the same canvas to paint “Black Lives Matter.” Indiana Avenue, a street rooted in the contributions of Black Hoosiers, bore messages of racial justice — and, subsequently, vandalism.

The 18 artists who created the mural arrived from a spectrum of styles and skill levels. Some were veterans of the city’s art scene. Others were on the front end of establishing their craft. Each contributed to the united moment, to the message they believed in. Each also expressed personal perspectives through other individual pieces.

“We. The Culture: Works by the Eighteen Art Collective” is an exhibit of about 20 of their artworks that opens Friday at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.

But it started out with a different focus and name. Almost two years ago, the museum and artists began discussions for “Drip: Indy’s #BlackLivesMatter Street Mural,” a show that would highlight the Indiana Avenue artwork for six months starting in April 2021. While the artists and guest curators signed on, they said Newfields didn’t agree to their request to display their individual pieces as well.

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