Off the Wall
Fishers District Unveils First Round of Murals
Photography Provided by Mari Sandifer
A cheerful burst of color with a playful message recently appeared on the side of the Verizon Store in the Fishers District. As the first location in a series of four murals, the installation can be found among the dining, retail and hotel development owned and operated by Thompson Thrift Retail Group. The unique artwork is the result of a collaboration between Thompson Thrift, the Fishers Arts and Cultural Commission and Nickel Plate Arts.
The City of Fishers referred Thompson Thrift to Nickel Plate Arts to facilitate their wish to create memorable and exceptional artwork to set their development apart. Nickel Plate Arts had the system in place to send a call-out to regional art councils and more than 1,000 artists. With an understanding of how mural art would be able to build the sense of place Thompson Thrift desired, Nickel Plate Arts assisted the company in narrowing the submissions down to the four artists who were ultimately chosen.
“We were looking for a modern blend of styles that was vibrant but not too much like graffiti or informal street art,” says Aili McGill, Nickel Plate Arts Executive Director. “We wanted whimsy and a fun message in a social area. The installations will have permanence so it was important to choose artists that were the cream of the crop. We were looking for personal experience and a well-established reputation.”
Local artist Koda Witsken was chosen to paint the first installation. With the brightly hued words, “Thanks for being weird with me” alongside a large yellow flower, the mural is hard to miss. As the City of Fishers reopens after the spring season of COVID-19 shutdowns, the colorful background will be the perfect spot for social media posts as residents return to the nearby retail establishments.
Witsken is excited and thankful for the opportunity to display her art in her hometown.
I grew up in the HSE school system, so being able to give back to my hometown means the world to me as an artist,” Witsken says. “‘Thanks for being weird with me’ was inspired by Fisher’s brand as a city – entrepreneurial, smart and vibrant. My hometown embraced me and all my quirks to help me feel confident in my career track as an artist and helped me feel like taking an entrepreneurial leap of faith could be worth it.”
Three other murals are slated to be painted within the Fishers District in the coming months. Dan Toro from Laramie, Wyoming has already begun working on the Sun King Building. Also chosen to install murals are Indianapolis artists Megan Jefferson and Travis Neal.
“Public art is important to build communities and local economies. It is walkable, outdoor, aesthetically pleasing, easy to implement, cost-effective, vibrant and socially-distance-appropriate,” Witsken says.
“Fishers can be proud of these murals,” McGill adds. “Businesses that are willing to take the risk of providing public art should be applauded and celebrated. Shout out to Thompson Thrift for taking that leap.”