Indy artists use boarded-up windows as canvas for change

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INDIANAPOLIS — Downtown businesses have been boarded-up for the past week, protecting store windows from vandalism after a weekend of riots.

The plywood serves as a reminder of the violence and anger felt just a week ago, but local artists like Matthew Cooper are hoping to change that feeling through art.

“Just something positive, something people can smile about, because of course the climate right now is real aggressive,” Cooper said. “I feel like right now we all need to come together. Black, brown, purple, whatever.”

At the old city hall near the corner of Ohio and Alabama Streets, Cooper is painting murals on three windows. He’s spreading his support for black lives the way he knows best.

“Artists of color need to be out spreading their message through art,” Cooper said. “If marching is not their way of activism, whatever they can do to send a message I think is good.”

Up and down city streets, plywood-covered windows are becoming a canvas for black artists, using them to advocate for change in a beautiful way.

“I feel empowered. Not just as an artist, I feel empowered to be a black man, to be a black person right now,” said local artist Elijah Norwood.

Norwood and his friend Gentry Parker have spent the past two days working on a painting outside Grand Union Tattoo on Mass Ave. Their artwork is not just a symbol of beauty, but a symbol of strength.

“We felt as though we wanted to make something powerful, but also leave you walking away with a question to ask yourself,” Parker said.

That question has been answered by the dozens of people stopping to take a photo with their painting, which gives people the chance to show support and take a stand for black lives.

“Seeing everyone else join in with us shows that everyone wants the same thing. It shows we’re fighting for the same cause,” Parker said.

Using a paintbrush to make their voices heard, these artists show us there is beauty in everything and in everyone.

“Through all this tension and turmoil, black people are still beautiful,” Cooper said. “Even though we’re going through this time, we’ve been through over and over through history, we’re still here. We’re still standing. We’re still diamonds.”

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