Between now and April 6th, visitors to the Indianapolis Public Library have an opportunity to see a unique exhibit featuring the artists who created the Black Lives Matter mural on Indiana Avenue in August 2020. The artists have become known as “The Eighteen.” The exhibit features some of the work they’ve done beyond the now-iconic mural.
Among those eighteen activist artists is Ess McKee who works in mixed media.
“The black lives matter mural, for me, it was being a part of history,” said McKee when I visited her basement studio on Delaware Street. “It’s always going to be there in some way, some form or fashion.”
Being a part of the landmark black lives matter mural project was a natural follow to the series of acrylic works McKee painted and refers to as her “mood faces.” When I spoke with McKee, she was standing beside a piece that became part of the letter ‘S’ in the lengthy mural.
McKee says she and her fellow artists are pleased to be featured in the Meet The Artists exhibit.
“This has given us a good opportunity to showcase the work outside of the mural that we do.”
When I was in McKee’s studio, she was working on a layered work that included paint, adhesive, and stencil-like letters cut from construction paper. It is a piece she describes as having been “organically” created. It appears as an exercise in color and texture contrasting from her more activist pieces. Make no mistake about it, though, McKee considers herself to be an activist-artist. Through her bold, colorful works, the artist is able to reach people.