If the visual backdrop for this year’s Art & Soul performances looks familiar, it’s because you might have seen a version of it this summer on the old City Hall building. Visual artist Matthew Cooper originally created the works as part of last summer’s Murals for Racial Justice initiative. He was one of more than 20 artists of color who were commissioned by the Arts Council of Indianapolis to create murals on downtown Indy’s boarded-up windows in response to the worldwide protests calling for racial justice.
As the 2021 Art & Soul Featured Artist, Cooper also created two original works, Running Through the Hood (Don’t Miss the Street Lights) and Industrial By-Product of the Black Identity, that can be seen through the windows at Gallery 924, 924 N. Pennsylvania St.
The self-taught visual artist, who studied drawing and Africana studies at the IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design, reads as much as he can about a subject before he recreates it on canvas.
In this thoughtful, relaxed 45-minute conversation with Lindsey Lord, director of Artists Services and Gallery 924 at the Arts Council, Cooper talks about creating a storytelling narrative of the courageous and resilient history of African and African-American people.