From fashion photographers to performance artists, we’ve asked five notable women in Indianapolis’ creative scene to share what has inspired them to enrich the city with their unique artistic styles.
Jjanga (Kimberly) Hwang – Co-owner of Sajin Studio
Kimberly Hwang noticed a gap in Indianapolis – a space filled with everything a creative would ever need was lacking. So, she decided to fill that gap. Hwang and co-owner Zach Weir took matters into their own hands and birthed Sajin Studio, a space for content creation, artistry, photography, yoga, networking, and more. They named the studio “Sajin” (Sah-Jin) after the Korean word for “photo.” The studio has been home to many different types of photoshoots, from album covers and business headshots to senior photos and maternity shoots. Sajin Studio is an extremely versatile place where any artist’s vision can come to life.
Kat Theadora – Photographer and Performance Artist
Although Indy native Kat Theadora went to art school for six years, none of her studies had anything to do with photography or performance – the type of art she pursues today. Five years ago, Theadora stumbled upon a vintage camera and fell in love. Last year in May, a friend offered to let Theadora borrow a digital camera for the first time and she took it to a drag show. One month later, the photos she took that night were printed on huge promotional posters. After a couple of months of photographing drag in Indy, something clicked: “I photograph these people having the time of their lives all the time; I want to see what it’s like,” and soon after, “Fag Sabbath” (he/him) was born. Sabbath was created as an outlet for Theadora to express certain masculine styles and fashions that have always been intriguing to her through an alter-ego. It’s clear Theadora is doing what she loves; behind the camera as Theadora, and in front as Sabbath.
Maxine Wallace – Freelance Fashion and Portrait Photographer and Photojournalist
Maxine Wallace found her first love when she picked up a camera at age four and took a photo of her father – a picture that still hangs on his wall to this day. As she grew older and began working tedious jobs, following a path she thought was right, Wallace came home feeling defeated every day. In those moments, she decided to channel her inner four-year-old and try to remember what she loved; her passion for photography. Around 2017, she picked up her camera again and started taking photography seriously, and it soon grew from a hobby into a hustle. Wallace has since hosted her own art shows, photographed actresses, been the lead photographer for Indy Pride in 2019, and been asked by The Wall Street Journal to create a photojournalistic story about the tragic FedEx shooting that happened in Indianapolis in April of 2021. Three out of four of these accomplishments all happened within three months of each other, and for the first time in her life, Wallace felt like everything was finally lining up for her. Fast forward a few years, and the little girl taking photos of her dad is now one of the most impressive creatives in Indy.
Rachel Schwebach – Owner of Schwebach Photography
At just 16-years-old, Rachel Schwebach had already found her passion: photography. Schwebach began with darkroom photography and was immediately hooked. After obtaining an art degree, Schwebach actually quit artistry for three years, but in 2013, she fell back in love with photography and hasn’t stopped since. Schwebach considers herself primarily a nude and erotic artist, and she often captures images involving bondage, specifically Shibari, which is a form of rope bondage that originated in Japan – but she’ll shoot anything involving people. Schwebach is inspired by the most intimate parts of people and the courage that vulnerability holds.
Sylvia “Ess McKee” Rivers – Visual Artist
Ess Mckee first knew that she was meant for the arts when she was six years old. McKee always had a special place in her heart for expression, whether that meant drawing, painting, or even staring at graffiti on city walls. As an elementary and middle school art teacher, everything McKee does is art. On top of that, she’s a graphic designer and visual artist. Street art has always been McKee’s biggest muse throughout her life. Whether she’s creating something abstract, illustrative, whimsical, or thought-provoking, blossoming into the world of art has been one of the highlights of McKee’s life.
Editor’s note: Thank you to Rai Caraballo/Dahlia Desire (@dahlia.desire) for the introduction to all of these amazing women!
Mina Denny is Indy Maven’s editorial intern.
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