Northeast Indiana’s Make it your Own Mural Fest featured large scale murals by national and international artists.
Northeast Indiana is home to a legacy of makers, doers, creators and innovators, and now visitors to 11 counties in the area can see first-hand the creative talents of national and international artists.
The “Make It Your Own Mural Fest” took place in September and featured the creation of large-scale murals—one in each of these 11 counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. The murals were all unveiled on the same day, with celebrations and events taking place throughout the region to recognize the artists and communities. These beautiful murals are now finished and ready to be enjoyed.
Zach Medler, one of the 11 participating artists, is a muralist and printmaker from West Lafayette, and has painted more than 20 large-scale murals and produced two street art festivals working with arts and community organizations. He believes in the “power” of public art. “Public art is powerful in that it creates a public aesthetic,” Zach says. “It is best when it tells local stories with local hands. It defines what is significant. It subtly rallies public pride of place. It becomes local tourism info covers and Indiana travel magazine photos. It becomes part of what a place is. Especially, for small towns where everybody knows everybody. That is why it’s important to support local voices in mural projects, so the aesthetic truly reflects the place and the people.” Zach’s work can be seen in Adams county, at 411 E. Line Street in Geneva.
Ohio artist Ricco Diamante created his mural in Dekalb County, at 130 S. Randolph Street in Garrett. He wanted to participate in the project to “ignite the imagination” of everybody who views his art. “Painting a public mural is interactive between the community and the artist,” Ricco says. “It is a unique experience to be a performance artist and paint large with a changing audience that encourages and critiques the progress. Mural painting becomes a marathon with the community cheering me on to finish strong.”
Now that the murals—which are expected to last 10-15 years—are finished, the participating counties have put together some fun road trip itineraries, designed to bring together art, outdoor recreation, history, and travel. Check them out here: www.visitfortwayne.com/neiroadtrips/
This regional mural festival concept is the first of its kind in the state, with the counties coming together and collaborating to create a cohesive and vibrant attraction. Specific mural locations were determined through a county-led selection committee process with a combination of regional and local input.
“The Make It Your Own brand was created to connect future and current talent with Northeast Indiana’s unique story and celebrate the region’s outstanding quality of life,” said Kate Virag, vice president of marketing and strategic communications at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the group that launched the festival along with Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. “We hope to drive talent attraction, talent retention, and tourism by investing in quality of place assets and public art.” Through their efforts they hope to continue growing regional pride and garnering significant attention and exposure nationally.
Many of Northeast Indiana’s regional communities are utilizing public art to create a positive impact in their hometown. In downtown Fort Wayne, the “Art This Way” program has implemented large-scale murals in order to activate public spaces. The 2019 Gehl Public Spaces + Public Life study, in partnership with the City of Fort Wayne, identified key strategies for activation. The study encouraged more art installations and suggested pilot projects that would build on the existing public art. They noted that murals transform spaces like alleyways into places to gather and enjoy, rather than places to “just move through.”
According to Americans for the Arts, public art engages a community, engenders a sense of pride and community identity, and enhances a community’s quality of life. Murals attract attention and economic benefit. Mural implementation is a key component of the strategy to engage with the public and activate underutilized public space.
The mural festival leaders have allocated funds for industry-standard wall preparation, which will ensure the integrity of the mural projects. Each project will utilize industry-standard paint and paint application processes, which will provide a high-quality installation. An exterior sealant will be applied to the finished murals to prevent weathering, color fade and mural patina. Taking these steps ensures a high-quality product, which could potentially last for decades.
To learn more and find specific mural locations, visit www.neindiana.com/mural-festival/map
Explore more artsy destinations here: https://travelindiana.com/category/arts/