Art Arts and Humanities Exhibition Herron School of Art + Design

Herron’s first exhibitions in 2021 highlight the power of art to unify, promote social change

Written by Herron staff and first published in News at IUPUI on Jan. 20.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Galleries at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI will present two new exhibitions illuminating the various ways in which artists creatively and boldly use different media to amplify social justice movements.

“The Sum of Unity” and “Repercussions II: Recent Work by Alicia Henry” open Feb. 3 and support the university’s long-standing efforts to create a diverse and inclusive campus and encourage all to engage meaningfully in critical discourse.

Video still from artwork by Kota Ezawa
Kota Ezawa, still from “National Anthem,” 2018. Single-channel high-definition video with color and sound (1:48). Image courtesy of Kota Ezawa

A virtual reception will take place on Zoom from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 3. To participate, register in advance online or watch the livestream at

‘The Sum of Unity’

“The Sum of Unity” represents the joint efforts of more than 50 Indiana- and Chicago-based artists and weaves together protest signs — an art form that is often overlooked — with two large-scale murals alongside a video by Kota Ezawa. The exhibition responds to the current divisive climate that prevails both nationally and globally and comes in the wake of the Jan. 6 mob violence at the U.S. Capitol.

“In looking back on the year 2020 with the struggle of the global pandemic along with the social battle for human equality far and wide, division between people has been high,” said Samuel Levi Jones, Herron alumnus, artist and curator of the exhibition. “It was my desire to create a platform for an array of artists to come together and express their sentiments as one.”

Indianapolis artists Clayton Hamilton and alumna Shamira Wilson, both known for their socially charged public art projects, were each invited to create a mural in the gallery. Hamilton’s mural poses complex questions, and Wilson’s speaks to spiritual practices of Black and Indigenous communities.

Ezawa’s “National Anthem,” a single-channel high-definition video shown at the Whitney Biennial in 2019, is at the center of the exhibition. Continuously looping, the animation shows NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and the oppression of people of color.

Supported in part by Stuart’s Moving and Storage, Indianapolis, “The Sum of Unity” will remain on display in the Berkshire, Reese and Paul Galleries until April 17.

‘Repercussions II: Recent Work by Alicia Henry’

“Repercussions II” is a solo exhibition of mixed-media and textile works by Tennessee-based artist Alicia Henry exploring how gender, race, culture and socioeconomic disparities influence us and drive our perception of the human figure.

Artwork by Alicia Henry
Alicia Henry, “Untitled,” 2019-2020. Cotton, leather, wool, acrylic, dye, thread, yarn, 5′ x 15′ (variable). Image courtesy of Alicia Henry

Henry’s layered, figurative wall hangings, made of stitched and embroidered materials, and small, discrete painted objects in a large installation found in the exhibition, can be comical and dark at the same time. Addressing the politics of skin color, many of the pieces are rooted in traditions ranging from clowning to blackface, a deeply racist and painful practice that was prevalent between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century. Another work in the exhibition evokes the brutality of lynching and the long shadow it continues to cast.

“Henry’s remarkable command of a personal visual language across media carries the weight of an artist at the peak of her career,” said Joseph Mella, director and curator of the Herron Galleries. “Her art becomes a vehicle for her witness — to see and to be seen, to reveal and to embody the invisible.”

Henry holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is an associate professor of art at Fisk University, a historically black institution of higher learning in Nashville, Tennessee. “Repercussions II” will remain on view in the Marsh Gallery until March 13.

Visitor information

Herron’s exhibitions in Eskenazi Hall, 735 W. New York St., are free of charge and will reopen to the public on Monday, Feb. 8. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Virtual 360-degree tours will be made available in addition to in-person experiences.

Visit or call 317-278-9410 for more up-to-date information on health and safety protocols, exhibitions, virtual tours, gallery hours, and parking.

About the Herron Galleries

Since 2005, the Galleries at the Herron School of Art and Design have served as a vibrant site of exploration, participation and learning. Herron’s galleries continue to be an innovative educational forum for diverse audiences by providing direct and meaningful encounters with art and artists through a wide range of curatorial projects and public programming.

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