Artist: Tosca Carranza
Date created: 2019
As part of the Indy East Art Peace initiative–a partnership between the Arts Council of Indianapolis and Near East Area Renewal to bring the artist, resident, and police officer communities together to think about how the arts can help prevent crime–participating artist (and neighborhood resident) Tosca Carranza spent time engaging with the community and learned that this site was particularly fraught with a history of violence, with three homicides occurring on the corner within a five-year period. She proposed a mural, and chose calla lilies as the design because of their symbolism. Near East Area Renewal commissioned her to create the mural on site, where it was completed in late spring 2019.
This mural, representing calla lilies, is both a wish for peace and a call for remembrance. The name “calla” derives from the Greek word for beauty, kallos/a, and the white color is associated with purity and renewal (a “clean slate”). Over time, calla lilies became popular flowers for weddings, where they symbolize new beginnings, and for funerals, where they symbolize innocence. At one point it was common for the gravestone of a person who died young to display an image of a broken calla lily, signifying that the individual was taken before their time. The bright turquoise background draws the viewer’s attention to the somewhat-hidden alley location and sets off the pure white and verdant green of the flowers.
The mural is part of a series by the artist called the “Many Flowers Murals,” created to memorialize traumatic events in the Near Eastside and provide space for the community to come together, grieve, and heal. Huge, painted flowers are used as a visual metaphor for lives cut short by gun violence, and the murals allow the victims to be remembered as beautiful and special. The process of creating and inaugurating the murals is important to community togetherness, reconciliation, and rebirth.
Tosca Carranza is a painter, art educator, and Near Eastside resident.