Q&A with Shamira Wilson, 56th & Georgetown Road Muralist

The mural at our location on 56th and Georgetown is a metaphor for the energy of movement inspired by the social fabric, textile technique and the multi-cultural diversity of the community surrounding the area. Created by Shamira Wilson Young, it expresses the interconnected nature of the community all while providing joy for both visitors and neighbors.

We facilitated a Q&A with Shamira to learn a little more about her, her art, and the beautiful mural she has created.

Can you provide some background about you and your art?

I’m an Indianapolis-based visual artist. I received a BA from Johns Hopkins University in 2004, and have studied Furniture Design at the Herron School of Art and Design. I’ve exhibited locally in Indianapolis, including shows at the Harrison Center and Indiana State Museum.

I make artwork that explores the storytelling qualities of making by bridging the gap between art and design. I’m inspired by the domestic and built landscape and enjoy finding similarities in the visual language of textiles, graphic design, architecture, and furniture making to investigate relationships, gender, and identity. I’m interested in the symbolism that can be found in materials, processes, and images.

What was your previous experience in creating murals?

This was my first large-scale outdoor mural. I previously completed an indoor mural several years ago.

How did you prepare for such a large project?

In order to prepare for this mural, I spoke to friends who do public art projects and learned from their advice. Also, before taking my art career full-time I worked as a project manager for contract furniture and textile manufacturers and this experience helped immensely in the planning phase and in simply having the courage to tackle something this large for the first time.

I planned as much as possible – made an extensive list of materials, prices, and a checklist for what I would need from day to day, as well as planned how long each step of the process could potentially take. I had to be flexible and leave room in my timeline for unforeseen things that can happen on any large scale project. This was my largest undertaking after recovering from a major surgery that left me without the use of my arms for a while, so it was also helpful to have friends and family available to assist when I needed to move things along a little quicker than I could do on my own.

Can you tell us a little bit about the concept and how it came to fruition?

Much of my work involves the use of stripes as a graphic device which largely comes from textiles. When I got to the site and saw the ridged texture I immediately thought ‘Weaving!’

This summer I started some textile-based sketches and was able to reference those for the final mural concept. I came up with an abstract design that would capture the back and forth motion of the process of weaving and also reflect the motion of movement and transportation.

Did the location selection help you decide on the design concept?

I drew a lot of inspiration from the location and the community: the surrounding colors of the buildings, the large commuter corridor with lots of movement and travel, and its multicultural diversity. I also have family and close friends that live in the neighborhood so I have a personal connection to the area.

I thought about the ways that various cultures use textiles to share stories, including my own family, while keeping the story of this ‘textile’ open-ended. I was heartbroken by the loss of a large grocery store nearby so I reflected on the history of murals as commentary, and wanted to bring something to the community that kept all of those things in mind while providing something that would be minimal, vibrant, energizing, and uplifting for anyone walking or driving past.

How long did it take you to finish the mural?

It took 15 days; 120 hours including concept design, surface prep/priming, painting, and sealing the surface. I used 14 gallons of paint, drank 5+ gallons of drinking water, and 6 liters of green juice were consumed in the making of this mural!

How do you feel now that the mural is complete?

My most important concern was that community members would be happy with the mural and I got a ton of great feedback from people stopping by or honking as they drove past. The mural turned out better than I expected and I’m ecstatic with how well my work fit with the environment and how the surface texture and concept work together. I’m also really happy that I was able to execute a project that was so physically demanding and I’m looking forward to more public art projects in the future!

Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with the Arts Council?

The Arts Council has been huge in providing a platform for local artists and acting as liaisons for things like artist grants and public art projects. One of my first shows was at the Arts Council’s Gallery 924 and they’ve continued to be a pivotal resource when I’ve had questions and have wanted to take my career to the next step.

Thank you to Shamira for her work on our 56th and Georgetown Road location and for sharing with us the history behind the work. You can connect with Shamira Wilson on Instagram @shamirawilson.

This project is part of—the Every Part Matters mural project—Jiffy Lube of Indiana’s commitment to public art that provides both internal and external benefits to our people and the communities in which we work and live. The public project includes ten new murals by Indiana artists on the exterior walls of our stores and is facilitated by the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

Five other murals will be completed in 2018 and the remaining four will follow in 2019. The 2018 mural artists and locations are:

Carl Leck — 8175 Allisonville Road (Castleton)

Craig Martin — 2 S. Earl Avenue (Lafayette)

William Denton Ray — 6275 N. Keystone Avenue (Glendale)

Barbara Stahl — 1280 N. Green Street (Brownsburg)

Blend Creative Minds — 5444 W. 38th St. (International Marketplace)

“Since 1985, Jiffy Lube of Indiana has been committed to Growing People Through Work and to the reality that Every Part (of our community and our business) Matters,” explains Jiffy Lube owner Steve Sanner. The murals collectively serve to further Jiffy Lube’s mission of “growing people through work” as well as beautify the commercial corridors on which the stores reside, and create a sense of place.

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