34th annual “Meet the Artists” show in Indianapolis, IN

Art piece from the exhibit in front of shelves of books at the library

In addition to this visual art, be sure to check out the six authors featured. | Photo by INDYtoday team

The 34th annual Meet the Artists” exhibit is officially open at the Central Library. The event features textiles, reclaimed art, jewelry, sculptures + paintings from prominent local African American artists, as well as youth artists and authors.

Creators of the Black Lives Matter mural on Indiana Ave. — the Eighteen — are featured in the gallery. President Deonna Craig described the project as a way to show the community that they aren’t only Black artists but artists with a diversity of talent.

We were able to talk to founder + curator Tony Radford about the growth of the event throughout the years, starting in 1988.

Man standing next to artwork in library

Tony Radford by one of the many pieces on display now through April 2. | Photo via INDYtoday team

“At that time, there were no galleries and really no place to show [African American art] other than Black Expo,” Tony said.

Because of this, he approached the library’s African American History Committee about a group show. They started with 11 artists and 125-150 people showed up to the opening. They’ve been holding the event every year since then.

“I was in the circuit back then, going to openings and I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me. I just wanted to put us in the limelight and I had no idea that 34 years later we’d have a press conference and 16 to 1800 people come out to our opening. It’s indescribable to see how it’s grown,” Tony said.

Mannequins with textile art on display

Carcelia Amial + Nikki Blane’s textile work is featured on the main floor. | Photo by INDYtoday team

Famous Black artists and creators have stopped by in past years, including Vivica A. Fox. In addition to established artists, the exhibit showcases work by 12 kids from Kipp Indy, who developed sculptures over the course of five weeks.

Artwork can be found on five of the library’s floors and goes until April 2. If you’re unable to visit in person, you can see the exhibit online soon.

Pro tip: A little birdie told us a big name from Indiana could be headlining next year’s 35th anniversary, so keep an eye out for that.

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