Indiana Bicentennial: Art as Dialogue

Tour curated by: Annette Scherber, Rebecca Denne, Jenny Holly; Edited by Rebecca Shrum

What do you think of when you think of art? Who is an artist?

Over the course of Indiana’s 200-year statehood, individuals have created artistic works in many different forms. Fashion, sculpture, paintings, literature, architecture, and performance are all ways artists in Indiana have expressed themselves. However, Indiana artists have gone further than simply creating pieces for us to look at and enjoy. Artists can use art to communicate their experiences and to boldly express their values and ideas. The artists and venues highlighted in this tour represent the ways art has been used to create conversation about important social and political issues in Indiana’s history and today. This tour demonstrates that while art can be beautiful, it can also be a means to comment on larger issues, carve out spaces for expression, and spark dialogue and conversation.

As Indiana commemorates its Bicentennial and looks toward its future, what conversations do we still need to have? What dialogues are we still having as a state? What will Indiana art look like in another 200 years? We encourage you to think about and attempt to answer these questions as you explore the stops on this tour.

Locations for Tour

Indiana is home to many natural wonders like Wildflower Woods, located outside of Rome City (northwest of Fort Wayne), Indiana at the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site. Indiana author, photographer, and naturalist, Gene Stratton-Porter shared…

Theodore Dreiser is one of Indiana’s most well-known writers. Dreiser’s novels explored pressing early 20th century societal concerns such as poverty, income inequality, and prostitution. Early Life Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute,…

Following the failed revolutions of 1848, many Germans emigrated to the United States to escape turmoil. They incorporated aspects of German culture into their lives in the United States. By 1860, 20% of Indianapolis residents came from a…

L.S. Ayres Department Store was located at the intersection of Washington and Meridian Streets from 1905 to 1992. L.S. Ayres was not just a department store, but an experience that transformed the way women participated in urban society. While public…

Located at 231 E. 16th Street, Gregs is one of the most popular gay bars in Indianapolis and is a frequent stage for drag performances. Indianapolis has had roughly fifty gay bars in the last few decades, according to new information gathered by…

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is located in downtown Indianapolis. Commissioned by Harrison Eiteljorg, the museum opened its doors in 1989. It is still the only one of its kind in the Midwest and one of only two museums of…

Indiana Avenue tells an important part of the story of African American life in Indianapolis, much of which was centered here on the near northwest side of the downtown area. In 1860, the African American population of Indianapolis numbered only…