Indianapolis Airport Seeks Artist for Digital Mural

Posted by Indy Arts Council ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Indianapolis Airport Seeks Artist for Digital Mural




The Arts Council of Indianapolis, in partnership with the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) and the Madam Walker Legacy Center, is seeking a digital artist to create a design for a temporary (up to 2 years) mural to be installed in a prominent location at Indianapolis International Airport. The mural’s theme is the life and lasting impact of Madam CJ Walker on the city of Indianapolis and beyond. The artist’s scope of work will result in a production-ready digital file with no production or installation responsibilities. The IAA will contract with a third-party vendor to print and install the mural. This project will be submitted, concurrent with the artist’s design process, to the Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission for certification as an official Bicentennial project.

ARTIST FEE: Up to $10,000, based on final negotiated scope of work

ELIGIBILITY: Professional artists (or teams of artists) over age 18. All other qualifications being equal, preference will be given to Black artists living in the Indiana counties of Marion, Hamilton, Hendricks, Hancock, Shelby, or Johnson at the time of application submission.

DEADLINE:  Sunday, October 18, 2020 11:59 p.m. Eastern time

HOW TO APPLYApply here

About the Indianapolis Airport Authority and Indianapolis International Airport

The Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) owns and operates Indiana’s largest airport system in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. In addition to the Indianapolis International Airport (IND), its facilities include the Downtown Heliport, Eagle Creek Airpark, Hendricks County Airport-Gordon Graham Field, Indianapolis Regional Airport and Metropolitan Airport. IND generates a $5.4 billion total annual economic impact for Central Indiana – without relying on state or local taxes to fund operations. More than 10,000 people work at the airport each day, and 22,600 area jobs have a connection to the airport. IND served more than 9.5 million business and leisure travelers in 2019. IND is consistently ranked, year after year, as the best airport in North America and the nation, based on ease of use, passenger amenities, customer service, local retail offerings and public art. The airport is home of the world’s second largest FedEx operation and the nation’s eighth-largest cargo facility. IND is committed to becoming the airport system of choice for both passenger and cargo service.

The IAA believes in supporting a climate where art and culture thrive; it’s apparent throughout the fabric of IND. Permanent and temporary art collections are displayed in both public and post-security areas throughout the airport. Many of the collections were created by artists or poets who live in Indiana or have ties to the Hoosier state.

For more information, visit IND’s Facebook page and Twitter page (@INDairport).

Project Background

As part of the Concessions Refresh program at Indianapolis International Airport, the central Civic Plaza area is undergoing a shift in assignment of retail and restaurant spaces over the next two years, with longtime tenants exiting the market and new ones coming in. Currently the spaces in the northwest quadrant of the circular plaza are vacant, having previously been occupied by the 500 Grill and Cafe Patachou, and are boxed in with a constructed wall. While tenants have been contracted for those spaces, due to COVID-19 they will not be able to build out their facilities and open up for business for at least 18 months and up to 2 years. This is a prime opportunity for the Indianapolis Airport Authority to tell a story about Indianapolis that will surprise and delight travelers, and highlight aspects of our history and culture as part of the Bicentennial celebration of our city.

Accordingly, the Indianapolis Airport Authority has partnered with the Madam Walker Legacy Center to tell the story of Madam CJ Walker in the airport via a mural on the boxed-in retail space. Introducing travelers to Madam Walker in the city where she solidified her impact, and the place that still bears the fruit of her civic legacy, is an important step in helping travelers associate Indianapolis with a strong Black culture and continuing values of entrepreneurship, community service, and civic pride.

About the Madam Walker Legacy Center

An integral part of the Indianapolis community, the Madam Walker Legacy Center (MWLC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of Madam CJ Walker by providing cultural education, promoting social justice, supporting entrepreneurship, and empowering youth to become the next generation of entrepreneurs and civic leaders. MWLC uses its historic building as a venue for celebrating cultural diversity, rich heritage, and cultural traditions, primarily through engaging in the arts from the African-American perspective. MWLC continues to serve as an enduring symbol of not only Black pride and achievement, but also pride for women by perpetuating the legacy of our nation’s first self-made woman millionaire.

Find out more here.

About Madam CJ Walker

Born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, on a Delta, Louisiana plantation, this daughter of former slaves transformed herself from an uneducated farm laborer and laundress into one of the 20th century’s most successful, self-made women entrepreneurs. By the time of her death in 1919, Walker had become the first self-made American woman millionaire through sales of her eponymous hair care products, salons, and real estate investments. One of only fifteen women inducted into the National Business Hall of Fame, Walker recently was listed among Business Week’s top thirty American entrepreneurs of all time.

In 1910, Madam CJ Walker set up a laboratory and beauty school in Indianapolis. Because of the advantageous opportunities afforded to Madam as a result of her move to Indianapolis, her business flourished. No matter: however prosperous a business was in Central Indiana, racial tension and discrimination were a regular part of Black life at the time. In an infamous 1915 incident at the Isis Theatre, a now-defunct cinema in downtown Indianapolis, Madam had to pay a “Black tax,” or a higher admission fee than white patrons paid, in order to gain entry. This indignity spurred her to file a lawsuit against the theater and resulted in her building her own theater where Black people could be treated fairly. The theater still stands today as the home of the Madam Walker Legacy Center. Madam always endeavored to provide a safe, welcoming environment for marginalized people, and accomplished this at a time when there were few other social options available.

Madam was very generous and gave back to her community by contributing to Black organizations in Indianapolis, such as the Senate Avenue Young Men’s Christian Association, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Flanner House. She did not limit her generosity to Indiana, however, and also gave money to the Tuskegee Institute and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Both Walker and her only child, A’Lelia, enjoyed many genres of music including opera, classical, ragtime and blues. A major patron of the arts, Madam Walker supported Black musicians, actors and artists.

Learn more about Madam CJ Walker at her official biography site.

Site Information

The mural area measures 11 ft. high, and the mural scope would be up to the full wall length of 107 ft. (to be negotiated with the selected artist) It is located in the northwest quadrant of Civic Plaza, the central public space at IND.  Civic Plaza contains many restaurant, retail, seating, and bar options for travelers to enjoy before they enter the security screening area, or after they have deplaned.

Artwork Goals

The mural design will incorporate at least one recognizable portrait of Madam CJ Walker–which may or may not include the Madam Walker Legacy Center–to visually tell the story of Madam and her impact on the physical, social, cultural, and economic legacy of Indiana Avenue and the city of Indianapolis. Linking past and present, the mural design is intended to inspire airport visitors to understand her importance and, as they travel the city, to look for traces of Madam’s influence in all spheres of contemporary life, both on Indiana Avenue and beyond.

  • There is no defined aesthetic or style in mind for the final mural.
  • Reference photos and other resource material will be provided to finalist artists by the Madam Walker Legacy Center.
  • A photomontage approach is possible, but the expectation is for the artist to use their digital design skills to create an original concept in their signature style. Going beyond historic photos is encouraged.
  • The artist is encouraged to use their own, unique perspective to “find” Madam in the contemporary cultural fabric of Indianapolis as they create their final design.
  • The artist will retain copyright to their design and will license the IAA and Madam Walker Legacy Center for specific uses of the design for production of the mural and promotion of the mural project.  Additional commercial uses of the final mural design (in whole or in part) by the Madam Walker Legacy Center will be negotiated separately with the artist.


  • Release Request for Qualifications:  August 27, 2020
  • Qualifications dueSunday, October 18, 2020 11:59 p.m. Eastern (for questions as you are completing the application, email before 5pm on October 18)
  • Panel review of qualifications and selection of finalists: by November 1, 2020
  • Finalists notified: November 1, 2020
  • Finalists’ design proposals due:  December 1, 2020
    • Finalists will be provided with additional instructions and resources, and will be compensated for their proposals
  • Artist and design selected:  by December 15, 2020
  • Final design and digital file due:  January 15, 2021
  • Mural installed:  February, 2021 (artist may be asked to participate in a dedication ceremony)
  • Mural on view:  TBD through 2021 and into 2022

Selection Process

A panel of representatives from IAA, Madam Walker Legacy Center, and the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ Public Art Selection Committee will review artists’ submissions. Three or four finalist artists will be selected and provided with detailed information about the site and format for the completed artwork, and access to resources to assist in design development, and will be compensated $500 each to create a design proposal. The design proposal will be a full-color sketch of an original idea that, if selected, the artist will develop into a production-ready digital design. Finalists’ design proposals will be reviewed and one will be selected for completion and production.

The selected artist will be responsible for adhering to strict specifications for the digital file in their final design and completing the design within a one-month timeframe.  A digitally-created original final design will be preferred, but a high-resolution photograph or scan of a finished artwork created in a different medium may be acceptable. The expenses of photographing or scanning the artist’s original, if not created as a digital original, is included in the artist’s fee.

Selection Criteria

The following criteria will be used when selecting the finalist artists:

  • A record of striking digital artwork
  • Past success working with clients to develop a design on a specific theme
  • Ability to adhere to a strict timeline and exacting digital specifications

What to Submit

  1. Artist contact information (if a team, provide contact information for a lead/main artist)–use the prompts provided on the application form.
  2. Artist / artist team narrative bio and artistic history–no longer than 1 typed page. Bios can be typed into the application form or uploaded as an attachment (if uploaded, combine all team bios into a single document with no more than 1 page per team member). Attachments can be in PDF, DOC, or DOCX format.
  3. Examples of past digital design or artwork: attach at least 3 examples and up to 10 examples. If a team, provide at least 3 examples from each team member. Attachments can be in JPEG, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIF, PSD, or PDF format. PDF documents can contain more than one image: for example, multiple images from the same project.
  4. Brief narratives for each example submitted including client information, the design challenge and how it was met, and the fee received for the design work. There is a 200 character limit for this information.

There is also an optional applicant demographic profile. You do not have to complete any of the questions, but doing so helps us evaluate how well our programs and services are reaching the entire artist community.

Finalist artists will be required to submit professional references with their design proposals.

How to Submit

Submit ONLINE ONLY using this form. Submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, October 18. Feel free to email with questions as you are completing your submission; please try to submit your questions before 5:00 p.m. on 10/18 for quickest response.

QUESTIONS?  We are here to help! Contact Julia Moore, Director of Public Art, Arts Council of Indianapolis, or (317) 631-3301 x240.

About the Arts Council of Indianapolis

The mission of the Arts Council of Indianapolis is to foster meaningful engagement in the arts by nurturing a culture where artists and arts organizations thrive. The Arts Council is an organization that advocates for the need and importance of broad community funding and support for a thriving arts scene; innovates by constantly pursuing and promoting innovative ideas and programs that better serve the area, its artists, and arts organizations; and connects artists, audiences, businesses, foundations, and arts and cultural organizations with opportunities to explore and expand central Indiana’s creative vitality.

The Arts Council of Indianapolis is committed to working with the arts and cultural community to cultivate a sector that serves, celebrates, and values every resident of Indianapolis. We envision a city where engagement in the arts is not pre-determined by socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. We also believe that Black lives matter and we are committed to supporting Indianapolis’ Black artists–whom we need more than ever to help imagine a different world. Read our full statement about our commitment to racial justice in the arts and our full equity statement.


  • Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Airport Authority


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