At least as far back as the 2012 Super Bowl, Indianapolis has built a reputation not just for its excellence in stitching together all of the elements of large sports events but also for finding ways to weave the work of local artists and craftspeople into the fabric of the event. For the NBA All-Star Weekend set for Feb. 15-18, local organizers hit on a way to put a distinctly Hoosier spin on the areas downtown that will host the most visitors, playing off of the concept of Hoosier Hysteria.
Here’s the idea: Create 24 giant fiberglass basketballs that would act as blank canvases for 24 artists. On the balls, they would paint scenes relating to the people, places and specific game we most associate with Hoosier Hysteria. Obviously, the Milan Miracle is on the list—the 1954 state championship that inspired the movie “Hoosiers”. And there’s a ball dedicated to the legendary 1955 champions from Crispus Attucks High School—the first all-black squad to win an open state championship in the nation. You’ll also see balls referencing the annual Indiana-Kentucky game, the effect of Title IX on high school basketball and the never-ending debate over class basketball.
The project is called Hoosier Historia. For this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, host Mason King went to the warehouse where artists are working on their pieces before they’re deployed in the Mile Square. He interview to several of the artists, who in some cases were chosen for their close personal connections to the schools they’re depicting. And organizer Julia Muney Moore of the Arts Council of Indianapolis discusses the challenges of mounting a large-scale public art project in February that will only be display for a handful of days before dispersing across the state.
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