INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Art in its many forms serves many purposes.
The “Talking Wall” sculpture on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis is a large snapshot of Indiana’s black history.
Even the “Talking Wall” location has a story. A school named after Mary Cable, a black educator, once stood on the site along the Indianapolis Culture Trail, just north of West Michigan Street.
The sculpture, unveiled in 2015, contains images of people and other objects both familiar and unfamiliar. It is easy to follow the scenario presented in the design of “Talking Wall”. This shows that stories are conveyed not only by what we hear, but also by what we see.
“The idea was that it captured some of the African-American history in Indianapolis,” said Bernard Williamsthe creator of the sculpture.
Commissioned by the Indianapolis Arts Council to do the work, Williams had the direction and built the vision.
“What I did was try to visualize that story with the collection of words, signs and symbols,” he said.
Indiana’s black history is often tied to Indiana Avenue with such figures as entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist Madame CJ Walker and jazz legend Wes Montgomery.
“And really, there’s no part of the city in the city that hasn’t been touched by a black presence and a black culture,” said Julia Moore of the Arts Council.
Indy’s black history is not limited to Indiana Avenue.
The sculpture has familiar faces and symbols, as well as others viewers may never have known, such as educator Mary Cable and the Civil War Indiana all-Black Regiment.
Moore said of the Williams artist, “He was able to take all of these ideas that the community came up with and put them together in a way that honored both the story that people wanted to see and also the idea of the black presence in Indianapolis. .”
But, the combined stories show a continuum of history rooted in culture.
Williams said, “The black presence is bigger than it’s ever been.”
The sculpture not only tells a story, but shows other black creators – those once excluded from the lucrative art scene – that large-scale projects are growing and ready to be taken.
“We are seeing awards for African American art that we have never seen before. So this is definitely a time of progress and arrival, you might say, that is long overdue” , Williams said.