I was completely surprised that I won IndyHub's round of the 5x5 Competition called Face Your City, an Urban Love Affair. I live behind Ivy Tech and had gotten robbed the night before so I wasn't mentally in the right place to give an awesome presentation. I felt defeated before arriving. Once I got there, I saw other teams that brought droves of people with them. I'd just invited my husband and sent a few Tweets.
Before the presentations, we had about an hour to have a table out and talk to the attendees about our projects. People had t-shirts, cool fabrics on their tables, buttons, and stickers - lots of promo items to rally people around their great idea. I only had my laptop. I didn't have a table cover; I didn't even have an outlet to keep my computer on. I was in a horrible head space, and I already hate (emphasis) giving public presentations.
So anyway, I was thrilled to hear my name called as the winner of $10,000 to execute one of the ideas that had been floating in my head for a while. And because I didn't bring a ton of people and have flashy handouts, I know it was a genuine win based purely on the idea. Now, two months later, I'm about 50% through the project. The whole idea is to organize a print campaign around local artists. I hired photographer Mallory Talty to photograph 52 artists at a place of their choice. Those images will be distributed citywide. Indy venues really stepped up and so freely let me use their windows and storefronts. CityWay, the Walker Theatre, the ISO, CVS, Platform at City Market, Big Car, and Pearings - lots of organizations were quick to say yes, they'd like to be involved. That's an awesome testament to the collaborative spirit Indy has.
Silver in the City said yes, immediately, when I asked if we could use their window and if we could transfer all the images to playing cards and sell them there.
At this point we've finished 49 photo shoots and let me just say that scheduling 52 artists to do anything, is not easy. The images look great. I can't wait to see them on storefronts and in public spaces. IndyGo has offered the tails of 5 buses in circulation. That's amazing. My goals for the project were to:
1) Highlight and celebrate the artists we have here
2) Challenge the current perceptions we have about art and artists
3) Circulate positive images of people of color
Most of the artists in the project are black. I really wanted to have an image of that guy that we're afraid of seeing late at night in rough neighborhoods, playing a harp. It changes everything we think about our stereotypes, our own insecurities, and who can be an artist. I didn't find an intimidating harpist but I did find a lady who stays free from drug abuse by making handbags. She is completely dependent upon her art practice as a means to simply stay alive. I found a Philippine illustrator who's just quit his job to be an artist full time because he can't stop drawing. I found Indy in this project. I discovered new people, new passionate artists. I'm so excited to share faces of Indy with Indy and to inspire personal conversations about our own perceptions.
Keep an eye out for the campaign to run in October. In the meantime, a huge thank you to the Central Indiana Community Foundation, the Efroymson Family Fund, the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, IndyHub, and Big Car for affording me this wonderful opportunity.