Indy Style

Project allows artists to transform manholes into art

Project allows Indianapolis artists to transform manholes into works of art

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — You’ll never look at a manhole cover the same way!

Laura O’Brien, corporate communications coordinator for Citizens Energy Group, and artist John Clark on tell us about a collaboration that’ll leave you looking down.

DigIndy Tunnel

  • In 2006, Citizens Energy Group embarked on a 20-year project to improve Indianapolis waterways by constructing a tunnel system to connect, clean and preserve the city’s rivers and streams far into the future.
  • Upon completion, the DigIndy Tunnel System will be a 28-mile network of tunnels built 250-feet beneath the city that will eliminate sewer overflows almost entirely from local waterways.
  • To raise awareness of the project, Citizens Energy Group created the DigIndy Art Project, now in its second year.
  • Citizens is working with local artists to transform manhole covers into works of art
  • This year, the DigIndy Art Project partnered with Big Car Collaborative to make this project a success. Local artists created unique designs, painted them and then used their designs to transform manhole covers into works of art.

About the Art/Artists

  • The DigIndy Art Project asked local artists to imagine an Indianapolis with cleaner, healthier water in its natural landscape.
  • Eight Indianapolis-based artists developed designs that visualize the city’s future with enhanced waterways as a result of the new tunnel system.
  • The designs were then transferred into paint-by-numbers on wooden circles representing manhole covers. The art are on display at the Guichelaar Gallery, 1125 Cruft St., through the end of September.
  • The wooden circles were brought to community events downtown and at the Indiana State Fair for people to paint. Some sat for minutes; some sat for hours. Through their participation, each person was not only given the opportunity to learn about the DigIndy Tunnel System and take a virtual reality tour underground, but community members also connected with one another through making art.
  • As the designs were being painted by the community, the artists also painted their pieces onto manhole covers.
  • These manhole covers were placed throughout the city and serve as a reminder of the DigIndy Tunnel System plus a future with cleaner waterways.
  • Manhole covers can be found them downtown, at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, in Garfield Park and in the Broad Ripple neighborhood.

To learn more, visit