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Black Lives Matter muralists in Indianapolis form art collective

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The artists behind the Black Lives Matter Mural on Indiana Avenue are expanding their partnership, officially launching the 18 Collective. The goal is to expand reach and equity in the art community.

When the 18 artists came together last summer, they thought they’d complete the project and be done. Many never imagined the piece of art would grow into something that would create jobs, mentorship, and scholarship opportunities. And said they are amazed to see community and art collide.

The hashtag, the alphabet that spells out Black Lives Matter and the fist are 18 distinct characters in the mural, much like the 18 who created them.

“I was pretty open-minded going into the project. You know there was the open car for an artist who wanted to participate,” said artist Shamira Wilson.

The “E” in “MATTER” is Shamira Wilson’s work. She says going into the project she didn’t know what to expect. But feeling the energy and connections, it’s not a shock the project developed from just a moment to a whole collective.

“It’s really nice to see another artist that represents something that you can look forward to. Have role models or mentors out there in the community that can even answer questions,” Wilson said.

Many of the 18 didn’t have mentors and access to resources to be successful, full-time artists. That’s a common story for artists of color. The collective is a step to change that through scholarships, access to resources, mentorship, workshops and camaraderie.

“What could we do if we were a family, if we joined forces and not only impacted each other and encourage each other but encourage those that want to be an artist I want to be creative and it has been a ride,” said President 18 Art Collective.

Each symbol in the mural is unique, but somehow it creates a complete picture. These artist specialize in a range of artistic mediums but said somehow they too just work.

“We intersected at art and community building and we realize that our impact can be so much further if we join forces and so that’s exactly what we did, said Craig.

The 18 said they are encouraging other artists to reach out. As well as community member and businesses looking for art work to be done.