(INDIANAPOLIS) – Three months after the last Afghan refugees left Camp Atterbury, a mural telling their story is on display at Indianapolis International Airport.
The 20-foot mural grew out of an art therapy project at Camp Atterbury to help the more than seven-thousand refugees process their experience. Two Afghan artists and women’s rights activists among the refugees, Zainab Ahmadi and Fawzia Abdaly, worked with Indianapolis artist Tiffany Black to shape the most frequent recurring themes into the mural’s patterns
Black says the final product represents contributions from nearly 60 refugees, who went on to help with tasks like filling in colors after the design was finalized. Their mark is also present in their barefoot footprints at the center of the artwork, marking the steps of their journey.
The mural comprises seven brightly colored and intricately patterned circles of different sizes. At the center, the footprints and insignia of U.S. military ranks, from private to general, surround the largest circle, with the number 15 marking the August 15 Taliban takeover which prompted thousands of Afghans to flee. Other circles depict concepts including home, family, and Afghan culture, ending with a butterfly-centered circle representing the safety and rebirth found at Camp Atterbury.
The mural greeting passengers at the airport is actually a reproduction. The original is on display at Saint Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. The airport mural will be on display through May. After that, Black hopes to send both on tour, to other Indiana communities or across the U.S.