Monthly Archives: December 2015

Silence and Civility at the Talking Wall: Race and Public Art

The December 18, 2015 dedication of Talking Wall (image from author).

The December 18, 2015 dedication of Talking Wall.

This week artist Bernard WilliamsTalking Wall was installed on Indianapolis’ Cultural Trail.  Williams’ work sits along Blackford Street on the IUPUI campus, sandwiched between two parking decks in the midst of what was once an African-American neighborhood.  Talking Wall collects a series of symbols representing that African-American heritage, emerging after a long discussion over African-American public art stewarded by the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), Arts Council of Indianapolis (ACI), and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC).  On an otherwise non-descript stretch of the trail the work aspires to illuminate African-American heritage and evoke a historical landscape lost to most people’s memory.  For a piece that ambitiously celebrates its aspiration to promote conversation, though, it remains somewhat unclear exactly what sort of discussions a phalanx of planners hope to secure from Talking WallTalking Wall emerged from a tortured ethnographic failure of planners to fathom African Americans’ investment in public artistic representations of African America.  That failure and the subsequent effort to cast the subsequent Talking Wall community art project as reconciliation and civil discussion may frame a more interesting insight into privilege and the color line than any artwork. Read the rest of this entry

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