Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

SPARK on the Circle- John Wesley Hardrick mural painting with Kaila Austin

October 13 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Artist Kaila Austin have a live painting sessions of the John Wesley Hardrick mural at SPARK on the Circle at Monument Circle.
As the United States continues to face its history of enslavement, oppression, and exclusion of Black Americans in museums and other arenas of power and recognition, “Process as Practice: Reimagining the Lost Hardrick Mural” is impactful and unique as it explores both history and the potential for our future together. The exhibit which opens October 6, 6-10pm at Tube Factory artspace is part of an ongoing partnership between artist Kaila Austin, the Norwood community on the southeast side of Indianapolis, and the family of Indiana’s Harlem Renaissance painter, John Wesley Hardrick (1891-1968). Austin will first exhibit the first stages of the mural at Re:Public, October 1, 11am-4pm & October 2, 12-2pm then again 3-6pm.
Over the last three years, Austin worked in Indianapolis with descendants of African-American Civil War veterans — known as the United States Colored Troops — to recover and record their family histories as their communities shift due to gentrification. For this project, Austin is working most closely with people from Norwood, a neighborhood less than a mile from her childhood home.
In February of 2021, Austin learned that the new city morgue would be built on the Hardrick homesite in Norwood, all while the neighborhood celebrated its 150th anniversary. Due to community activism from the descendants, the City canceled morgue construction. Since then, Austin and the community have worked together to reimagine the Hardrick homesite. The mural featured in this exhibit is part of that reimagining. “This entire project is work that’s transient and malleable. It changes as the research becomes more clear or muddy,” Austin, who remains a resident of the near southside as part of Big Car Collaborative’s long-term artist residency program.
This mural — recreated by Austin with the support of Hardrick’s family — was originally painted at Crispus Attucks High School in 1934 as part of the Works Progress Administration program. Hardrick was the only African American artist selected in the state. The mural depicted four foundry workers toiling in the heat, reflecting Hardrick’s lived experience working at a foundry in Norwood. However, the principal at Crispus Attucks wanted Black children to aspire to work in professions outside of manual labor, professions that historically excluded Black Americans. For this reason, the school put the mural in the basement, never to be seen again.
Austin reimagined what the mural looked like by working with the Hardrick family and descendants in Norwood. They explored his diaries and sketchbooks and looked at Hardrick’s mentors and peers — and the community that raised him. The exhibit gives us a chance to step into Hardrick’s world and see how he made the piece from start to finish. Even the title was lost. So Austin and the family are renaming the mural.
“Process as Practice: Reimagining the Lost Hardrick Mural” is a multi-generational approach to public art. It creates context through community engagement that gives Hardrick’s descendants agency in reimagining the life of an artwork that deserves preservation and attention due to its relevance and meaning for all of us.
About the Artist: Kaila Austin is an artist and public historian from Indianapolis. She attended Indiana University, triple majoring in Art History, African American Studies, and Painting. Since 2019, she has run her own historic consulting organization, Rogue Preservation Services. For the last two years, she has been working with six Reconstruction-era African American neighborhoods to record, preserve and uplift the stories of the US Colored Troops on the Southeast side of Indianapolis. The public arts plays a major role in telling these stories and reimagining our city through a Black lens. Austin is an Artist in Residence in Big Car Collaborative’s long-term residency program on the southeast side of Indianapolis.
This exhibit is made possible by The Ruth Foundation for the Arts, The Efroymson Family Fund, The Arts Council of Indianapolis, The City of Indianapolis, Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Fund and Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Located in the Tube Factory main gallery
Visit us:
Wednesday -Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tube Factory is also open until 10 p.m. each First Friday.
Closed holidays
About Big Car: Big Car Collaborative brings art to people and people to art, sparking creativity in lives to support communities. As a nonprofit arts organization, we utilize tools of culture and creativity to build community and social cohesion — connecting people as a way to boost quality of life. Much of our work happens on a single block where we own or co-own more than 20 properties — including a long-term affordable housing program for artists and Tube Factory — a contemporary art museum with a cafe, studios, and community space. At our campus of adaptive reuse buildings and public greenspace, we host community and cultural programs to promote social connectivity, cooperation, and creativity. We also facilitate people-focused placemaking and place keeping projects across the city and beyond through Spark. Tune in to our experimental, community-focused radio station, WQRT 99.1 FM — also streaming at wqrt.org. More information at bigcar.org.
About the Southside US Colored Troop Coalition:
The Southside US Colored Troops Coalition is founded and maintained by the descendants of African American Civil War Veterans who founded six Reconstruction era communities in Southeast Indianapolis. With over 250 descendant families still living on the lots their ancestors purchased after the Civil War, they are some of the oldest African American communities in the United States. The mission of this organization is to preserve, uplift and revitalize the communities, families and stories of these brave men who lived and died for Black Freedom.
About Norwood: The Norwood neighborhood was a Freetown founded and built by Civil War veterans in the 1860s. Survivors of the Civil War from the 28th Regiment returned to Indianapolis in 1866 as newly freed slaves. And they settled further east along Prospect Street, eventually expanding into what became known as Norwood.
Their living descendants have long advocated for the perseveration and recognition of their community. The homes in Norwood have stayed within families for generations.
Norwood’s first church, Penick Chapel AME Zion, was founded in 1889 by former Kentucky slave and Civil War veteran Rev. Sydney Penick
About the WPA: The Works Progress Administration (WPA; renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was an American New Deal agency that employed millions of jobseekers (mostly men who were not formally educated) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was set up on May 6, 1935, by presidential order, as a key part of the Second New Deal.In one of its most famous projects, Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. The five projects dedicated to these were the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP), the Historical Records Survey (HRS), the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), the Federal Music Project (FMP), and the Federal Art Project (FAP). In the Historical Records Survey, for instance, many former slaves in the South were interviewed; these documents are of immense importance to American history. Theater and music groups toured throughout the United States and gave more than 225,000 performances. Archaeological investigations under the WPA were influential in the rediscovery of pre-Columbian Native American cultures, and the development of professional archaeology in the US.


October 13
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm


1 Monument Circle
South Facing Steps United States + Google Map