Below, you will find information on the process for the African American Art on Indianapolis Cultural Trail project, the selected artist and his proposed artwork.
The Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC) and The Arts Council of Indianapolis are commissioning a substantial piece of public art for the City of Indianapolis. The piece will reflect the proud and distinct history of the African American community in central Indiana. The piece selected for this project is a thoughtful investigation of who we are as a city and a community and will represent the Indianapolis African American community in an insightful, creative, and positive manner.
The chosen artist, Bernard Williams, is working closely with Arts Council staff and city and Trail to ensure the final artwork is integral to the identity of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick, the neighborhood in which it resides, and downtown Indianapolis.
More information on the Cultural Trail can be found at www.indyculturaltrail.org.
The Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC) and the Arts Council of Indianapolis (ACI) called together a public art selection committee to review submissions garnered through the artist Request for Proposal (RFP) process that was launched in Spring 2013. The selection committee is comprised of steering committee members; visual art professionals from galleries, museums, and other visual art institutions in Indianapolis; artists; and community representatives/designees as recommended by the Cultural Arts Committee and partner institutions.
The first task of the selection committee was to narrow the field of artists/proposals based on the criteria established by the Cultural Arts Committee and outlined in the RFP process to five finalists. Each finalist was provided with a small stipend to create and produce a maquette (scale model) of the proposed artwork for public display and comment. Following this opportunity for additional public feedback, the selection committee reconvened to consider the public feedback and made a final recommendation to the Cultural Arts Committee.
The Cultural Arts Committee presented the winning design/artist to GIPC’s executive committee and the board of Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. for input and approval. The final decision on the artist and artwork was made by the Cultural Arts Committee following approval by all governing bodies and at the conclusion of the work of the selection committee.
Talking Wall, 2013Powder-coated steel
"The collection of symbols is an open-ended conversation about the Aftrican American history of Indianapolis. I'd like to think that elements may be added to this work as it moves towards its final presentation. Even after the sculpture lives for a while, other elements may be added. The sculpture is a conversation, a "talking wall" of sorts.
Viewers would walk through and interact with a group of large standing graphic shapes, which are attached to steel bases, square tubing, footings, or other steel elements. Multiple shapes are attached to one another to create highly dimensional moments in relation to many flat shapes. Shadows will be cast in multiple directions suggesting a "walk in the shadow" of influential culture and heroic ancestors.
As an artist I work with a large inventory of images, signs, symbols, and word elements. Outdoor situations offer an exciting moment to enlarge and play with symbols, shapes, and form. I am suggesting a collected group of very large symbols for a dramatic outdoor display.
Much of my previous work engages American history and gives voice to often neglected or ignored people groups within the complex American story. I have arranged some potential symbols and word elements based on the African American focus of the project. I have used actual African sculptures or masks from traditional cultures in Gabon. One of the large circular symbols has roots in Kenya. These wood-based ancient art forms would be translated into steel. Referencing Indiana's great steel presence, the traditional and ancient art is set into a conversation with current steel labor and technology. Symbolism around music (Black music specifically), architecture, broader culture, and African-American personalities with roots in Indianapolis will intersect at this site."
Williams is a professional studio artist who often leads projects with communities and schools in the Chicago area. He enjoys the process of sharing his art practice with youth and introducing them to ideas within contemporary art. Williams received his BFA from the University of Illinois, and his MFA from Northwestern University. He has taught both sculpture and painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is represented by galleries in Chicago, New York, and Detroit and consistently shows work at all three. Williams has received many awards and residencies including, most recently, A Studio in the Woods, New Orleans, LA in 2011 and Socrates Park Residency, NY, NY in 2009.
Cultural Arts Committee - Steering/Leadership Group Roster
Cultural Arts Committee - Art Selection Subcommittee
Cultural Arts Committee
Wilma Moore (Indiana Historical Society)
Malcolm Mobutu Smith (IU Bloomington)
Vance Farrow (IUPUI)
Kären Haley (Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc.)
Shannon Linker (Arts Council of Indianapolis)
Visual Art Institutions
Mark Ruschman (Indiana State Museum)
Jennifer Complo McNutt (Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art)
Robert Chester (Crispus Attucks Museum)
Toby Miller (GIPC/RCRLN)
Matt Hendrix (GIPC)
Ernest Disney-Britton (Arts Council of Indianapolis)