Originally published on June 25, 2020 in TheStatehouseFile.com
Indianapolis has partnered with the city’s Arts Council to launch a new initiative called #MaskUpIndy.
This initiative was made to encourage residents to wear masks in public and promote Marion County’s free face covering program. The partnership will receive $20,000 from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was approved earlier this month by the Indianapolis City-County Council.
During Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly press briefings, he and Dr. Kristina Box, commissioner of the state health department, have repeatedly urged Hoosiers to continue wearing masks as the virus is still taking its toll on the state and remains a threat.
While they have always encouraged residents to wear face coverings, the state has never mandated the use of them, but left it up to businesses and individuals instead.
The #MaskUpIndy partnership commissioned six local artists to create public artwork to illustrate how important it is to wear masks in the form of a public service announcement.
“Art can be a powerful vehicle for social change, as we’ve seen throughout the past several months,” said Arts Council of Indianapolis President & CEO Julie Goodman in a press release. “We hope that this PSA campaign will inspire residents to prioritize public health and find creative ways of their own to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”
One of the six commissioned artists is Tasha Beckwith, born and raised in Indianapolis, who created her piece called, “Joy” using digital illustration. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Indiana University Herron School of Art and Design.
The next commissioned artist is Mirvia Sol Eckert, an Indianapolis artist born in Puerto Rico, whose piece “In This Together” was created using freestyle digital illustration. Some of her common art themes include her Puerto Rican heritage, love of family and friends, spirituality and nature.
Another commissioned artist is Indianapolis-based Shaunt’e Lewis, whose artwork has been featured in many galleries, cafés and venues around the city and surrounding areas. She made her piece for #MaskUpIndy called “Sisters in the City” using digital illustration.
William Denton Ray, an Indianapolis artist, created his work, “Masqueraders,” using Adobe Illustrator. He has been in the Indianapolis art community for over 15 years and attended the Columbus College of Art and Design.
Indianapolis designer, artist and illustrator Aaron Scamihorn leads design for the Indiana City Brewing and has had work featured by musicians and international industry leaders. His piece for this initiative, “Sanitary Solidarity,” was made with digital illustration.
The last commissioned Indianapolis artist for #MaskUpIndy is Israel Solomon, a local visual artist and art educator currently teaching middle school art. He used acrylic paint on canvas to create “Canal Roses.”
In the city’s cultural districts, these artists’ commissioned pieces will be showcased as public art, and posters of the artwork will be available for businesses, organizations and residents to display themselves.
Those posters, designed to help remind residents to wear face coverings, will be printed and distributed to merchants associations, community centers and businesses.
Organizations and businesses wanting posters can contact their Mayor’s Neighborhood Advocate, and Marion County inhabitants can go to any of the following locations during business hours to get themselves one: Indianapolis Artsgarden, City-County Building, Indianapolis City Market or Original Farmers Market.
As for obtaining face coverings, adult residents can submit a request at indy.gov/masks. The city has partnered with several local organizations to distribute masks.
Hope Shrum is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.