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Art & Soul is hosted by the Arts Council of Indianapolis with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc.

During the month of February, the Indianapolis Artsgarden's signature program is Art & Soul, an annual celebration of African American art and artists in Indiana. Art & Soul kicks off Black History Month each year for Indianapolis, and features a diverse lineup of music, storytelling, dance, and visual art. Art & Soul showcases some of the area’s most creative African American artists, and many of those artists perform year-round. All Art & Soul performances are free and open to the public and begin at 12:15 pm.

Click here to see a list of previous Featured Artists.

Art & Soul Rotator

The Arts Council of Indianapolis partnered with American Pianists Association, Asante Children’s Theatre, and Indy Jazz Fest to present the 20th anniversary of Art & Soul: A Celebration of African American Art & Artists in Indiana at the Indianapolis Artsgarden in February 2016.

The 2016 Art & Soul Featured Artists were:

Mariah Ivey: Literary
Mariah Ivey was raised in Indianapolis in a progressive culture of musical performers. Having drawn inspiration from musical icons such as Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, India Arie, Erykah Badu, and Nas, Mariah began to find and cultivate a unique sound, message, and platform of her own, ultimately opening doors of artistry and activism. As a spoken word artist, MC, and vocalist, Mariah is commonly known for her authentic and outspoken lyricism, powerful performances, and community involvement throughout the socially conscious, neo-soul, hip hop, and spiritual communities advocating inner peace, self-love, economic power, and challenging the social norms of society.

Recently launched projects include That Peace Open Mic every third Thursday at Write on the Poetry Spot, and The Liberating HER Project where she aims to unify, educate, and shed light on the experiences of women and girls through workshops, conferences, showcases, and more. She is committed to the idea of Ubuntu, the African Principal that means “I am because we are.” When one does better, we all do better!

Nicholas A. Owens: Dance
Nicholas A. Owens is known throughout the Indianapolis arts community as a freelance choreographer, director, dancer, and the co-founder and former Artistic Director of Kenyettá Dance Company. His goal is to create, encourage, and provide training and performance opportunities to aspiring dancers seeking professional dance experience. In 2010, he formed his own modern dance company, Nicholas Owens Dance Company (NODC).

An ambassador for the art of dance, Nicholas uses each performance to demonstrate his commitment to artistic excellence, individual achievement, cultural relevance, and social engagement. His training includes contemporary modern, ballet, jazz, African dance forms, tap, and hip hop. Currently he teaches at the Indiana Ballet Conservatory, Dancer's Studio, and Iibada Dance Company. He also serves as the Assistant Artistic Director of Iibada Dance Company.

Derrick Carter: Visual
Derrick Carter, born and raised in Indianapolis, is a contemporary visual artist, specializing in mixed media figurative painting. Through an emotional and expressive process, he uses sand and acrylics to communicate his beliefs and understanding on life’s contrast between the world and himself. Sand has become his primary medium in defining the meaning of difference and to help capture interest through his viewer’s eyes. Using a substance as simple as sand in the place of more traditional media helps to uniquely distinguish Derrick’s work.

Derrick attended The Art Institute of Indianapolis, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design while studying with professional artist, Mason Archie. In 2010, Derrick began to merge his knowledge of fine arts with principles of graphic design to develop a new style of art that has enhanced the reactions of his viewers.Derrick has exhibited his artwork in group exhibitions such as Flava Fresh, Meet the Artist, and Art and Soul.

Derrick’s artwork is featured in this year’s exhibition along with highlights from student artists in central Indiana. Derrick is helping to encourage these younger artists by sharing his feedback through a personal critique of the student work in collaboration with Gallery 924 curator, Shannon Linker. The show runs from January 30 - February 27.

Jared Thompson: Music
Jared Thompson, North Central High School and Denison University alum, began the framework of Premium Blend in 2004. With the guidance of Indy Jazz Hall of Fame inductee Rob Dixon, Thompson learned the intricacies of the Indy jazz community, while honing his unique ability to bridge the gap between the aesthetics of ‘old school' jazz fans with the ever-changing tastes of his millennial contemporaries.

Ryan Taylor (guitar), Brian Yarde (drummer), and Steven Jones (keyboard/key bassist) make up his 'league of extraordinary gentlemen' better known as Premium Blend. Their debut album Sum of All Parts (S.O.A.P.) released in 2015, highlights each musician not only as competent modern torchbearers of the jazz tradition, but also showcases their prowess at composing thoughtful and engaging modern jazz music. With tasteful nods to bebop, Latin jazz, R&B, and hip hop, Premium Blend's sound has been described as a unit that is truly a sum of all parts.