Downtown in Indianapolis in Marion County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Talking Wall, 2015
Bernard Williams (b. 1964 Chicago, Illinois)
steel and paint
144 x 244 x 79 inches
Bernard Williams' projects investigate the complexities of American history and culture through painting, sculpture, and installation. This sculpture is an open-ended conversation about the African-American history of Indianapolis: a "talking wall" in which elements speak both to each other and to the viewer. When visiting the sculpture, viewers both literally and figuratively walk in the shadows of heroic ancestors and cultural icons.
The patterns are derived from traditional African decorative carving and textiles as well as from African-American quilt making. Individual symbols reference nationally recognized historical figures such as Madame C.J. Walker, Major Taylor and Wes Montgomery. Other icons represent specific African Americans known in Indianapolis for their achievements in education, the arts, athletics, and military service. The sculpture is crowned by a representation of the North Star, a symbol of the African-American historical and contemporary quest for
The artwork site itself is significant. It was once the location of IPS School 4, which was one of the original ward public schools and welcomed both black and white students until 1922 when it was designated for African-American children only. In 1953, a new IPS School 4 building—also segregated—was constructed just north of the original and named in honor of Mary Ellen Cable (1862-1944), an African-American woman who was renowned as a School 4 teacher and principal and as a civic leader. Cable founded the Indianapolis branch of the NAACP and served as the first president of both its Indianapolis and Indiana chapters.
Funding for the artwork was provided by the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick. The project was an initiative of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee and the Arts Council of Indianapolis, with additional support from Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
Additional information on the artwork is available at
Erected by Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Indiana Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, Music • Education • Women. A significant historical year for this entry is 2015.
Location. 39° 46.497′ N, 86° 10.189′ W. Marker is in Indianapolis, Indiana, in Marion County. It is in Downtown. Marker is on North Blackford Street north of West Michigan Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 525 North Blackford Street, Indianapolis IN 46202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mary Cable / School No. 4 Site (within shouting distance of this marker); Jones Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church Site (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Madame C.J. Walker Timeline (about 800 feet away); James Overall (approx. 0.2 miles away); Indiana Avenue (approx. 0.2 miles away); Isaac Blackford (approx. ¼ mile away); Ransom Place Historic District (approx. ¼ mile away); Historic Ransom Place (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Indianapolis.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 4, 2023. It was originally submitted on April 26, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 136 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 26, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A clear daylight photo of the marker, a clear daylight photo of the marker in context, and the Talking Wall. • Can you help?