6 Local Female Artists to Know in Indianapolis

From photography to pottery, watercolor painting and jewelry design, these talented local women are making Indy a more interesting, artistic place to be.

Typically this would be arts fair season around Indianapolis, with exhibitors setting up stalls at The Penrod Arts Fair, the Talbot Street Art Fair, and the OneAmerica Broad Ripple Art Fair, to name a few. Since COVID-19 had other plans, we wanted to shine a light on a few talented female Indiana-area artists and artisans and showcase their work.

FAITH BLACKWELL, OWNER OF FAITH BLACKWELL PHOTOGRAPHY

FAITHBLACKWELLPHOTOGRAPHY.COM, @FBPHOTOGLLC

Faith Blackwell, who lives on Indy’s northwest side, has been a full-time photographer since 2011, and in that span she has become an instrumental creative force within the city. She shoots magazine features, events, commercial photography, and headshots, and also creates compelling original artwork. Faith is also on the editorial board and is an event photographer for Indy Maven. In short, she’s amazing. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTWORK?

It depends on what’s on my mind: One day it tends to be fun and whimsical with lots of color, and then maybe it’s a few mixed-media pieces. When I’m working on photography, it ranges from empowering portraits and candids to what I see from my travels. 

WHAT MEDIUM(S) DO YOU PRIMARILY USE IN YOUR ART?

Photography, wood, resin—that’s what I’m using right now. Mixed media is new to me, so I’m having fun exploring how far I can take my imagination. 

HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Inspiration hits me anytime, anywhere. It can be on a walk, a moment, even a dream. I look through fashion and art books, and interior and graphic design accounts on Instagram. I also find inspiration in other artists; I’m fortunate to belong to an artist community, and even though I can’t connect with them as usual (due to COVID-19), wandering into their studios and seeing what they are working on is both inspiring and motivating. 

IRINA SMULEVITCH, OWNER OF CARMEL ART EDUCATION STUDIO

CARMELARTEDSTUDIO.COM, @IRINASMU

Irina Smulevitch is an accomplished and award-winning watercolor painter who also excels at custom commissions, but what she’s most proud of is sharing her vast knowledge with her students at the Carmel Art Education Studio, her self-made business located in the Village of West Clay.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTWORK?

My artwork is a mirror of my feelings and an interpretation in color of my emotions and life experiences—so sometimes it is bright and cheerful, and sometimes it’s more monochromatic.

WHAT MEDIUM(S) DO YOU PRIMARILY USE IN YOUR ART?

I prefer watercolor because of the fluidity, the unexpected results and improvisation—like jazz music, one tune can have so many voices and different instruments. Sometimes I create with pastels as well; I love to touch the paper and feel the colors on the tips of my fingers. 

HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I find my inspiration in music, in nature and in everyday life. I believe that you can find beauty everywhere around you if you’re looking for it and ready to appreciate it.  

 

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On the wind . Watercolor on paper

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SHAUNT’E LEWIS, OWNER OF SHAUNT’E LEWIS ART

SHAUNTELEWIS.COM, @SHAUNTELEWISART

Based in Indianapolis, Shaunt’e Lewis is a multi-talented dynamo and a mother of four. In addition to her thriving career as an artist and illustrator, Lewis is also a respected hair stylist, the owner of Aesthetics Salon in Fishers, and the CEO of Aesthetics Haircare, a professional line of salon-quality hair products.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTWORK?

My artwork is abstract and bold. The vivid colors speak both to me and my audience. While some paintings may have deep meaning, others may have been created from a simple feeling. My work ranges from smaller paintings on canvas and digital illustrations to large murals.

WHAT MEDIUM(S) DO YOU PRIMARILY USE IN YOUR ART?

Although I work with many different mediums, such as henna, mixed media, and pastels, acrylic is my primary medium of choice. I believe that working in a single medium is restrictive to my artistic process. Each idea manifests in its own individual style, therefore I allow the materials around me to guide my creative process. 

HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I am particularly captivated by the endless facets and abstractness of my culture. I love to hear the different views and personal connections that my art creates. I find it very rewarding to share my passion and artistic talents with others. Through my work, I hope to inspire others to pursue their passions!

 

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Rise in Power ✊🏾 Rise in Love 🤎

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HEIDI MANDICH, OWNER OF MY CHAMPAGNE CREATIONS

MYCHAMPAGNECREATIONS.COM, @MYCHAMPAGNECREATIONS 

Jewelry designer Heidi Mandich, a native Hoosier, uses metalsmithing in her eye-catching creations, and she has also taught the techniques at the Indianapolis Art Center. A two-time breast cancer survivor, Mandich designs heart-shaped jewelry—among other gorgeously intricate pieces—and donates 25 percent of the sale of the hearts she makes to fund breast cancer research through 100 Voices of Hope at IU Simon Cancer Center. So far, she’s raised more than $9,000.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTWORK?

As a metalsmith jeweler, I begin each piece with silver sheet metal and wire to transform an idea in my head into reality. My goal is to create unique, unusual but wearable jewelry as an art piece that can be worn every day. I tend to look for balance and simplicity in my designs, and try to create pieces that you won’t see everywhere.

WHAT MEDIUM(S) DO YOU PRIMARILY USE IN YOUR ART?

My work is primarily in Argentium sterling silver. It has 1% more silver than sterling, an alloy to retard tarnishing and a guarantee of no nickel, so it is safe to wear for many who have allergies. Then I accent it a number of different ways with gold, copper, brass, faceted gems, stones, and patinas or enamel for color. I create each piece from “the ground up,” so to speak. It is fascinating to me how metal can be textured, shaped, colored, connected and polished using hammers, saws, torches and tools to make an idea in my head into a 3-D reality.

HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I find inspiration everywhere! In nature, like leaves and flowers and the symmetry of their shapes and layers, in architecture, geography (even the roundabouts of Carmel!), and the textures of fabric, lace, and etched designs. Then I wonder, “Can I do that in metal?” and see if I can.

LAURA RICKS, OWNER OF EMERALD HILL TEXTILES

EMERALDHILLTEXTILES.COM, @EMERALDHILLTEXTILES

Unique and intricate, Laura Ricks’ felted wool creations are truly special to behold. Based in Lafayette, Ricks utilizes her wealth of artistic talents to create landscapes, sunsets, trees, and other breathtaking natural imagery—all using fibers instead of paint.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTWORK?

I would describe my artwork as nature-focused scenes inspired by my Midwestern upbringing and surroundings. Ideally, I would like for my art to evoke those feelings of nostalgia and serenity that connecting with nature so often provide. 

WHAT MEDIUM(S) DO YOU PRIMARILY USE IN YOUR ART?

I mainly work with dyed wool fibers which I lay out and arrange into a scene or image and then take through a process called “felting,” in which the fibers are permanently tangled together and bound into a sheet of felted art. This can be accomplished through needle felting or wet felting. I primarily create pieces using the latter method, although I do needle felt some details in my pieces and occasionally needle felt to create small 3-D sculpted objects like little morel mushrooms or potted succulents and cacti. I’m drawn more toward wet felting because other fibers such as silk, bamboo or viscose can be mixed with the wool during the initial layout. Then, as the wet felting process is carried out, the wool begins to shrink but the other fibers don’t, causing them to crinkle and squiggle and create fun textures and highlights in the finished piece. 

HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I’m inspired by nature scenes from my daily life, which could be bugs or flowers out in the field behind my house, the sky, or scenes from a hike in the woods—one of my favorite places to be. I especially love natural items with texture: Fluffy clouds, rough tree bark, the folds of a morel mushroom or the silky look of a butterfly wing are all things that definitely get my creativity flowing. I love when I can find a yarn, thread or fabric to add to my pieces to mimic these natural textures. 

 

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Combining a few of my favorites. Wet felting, redbuds and clouds! #wetfelting #emeraldhilltextiles #feltedart #feltersofinstagram

A post shared by Laura Ricks (@emeraldhilltextiles) on

KARA LOVELL, OWNER OF KARA LOVELL CERAMICS

KARALOVELLCERAMICS.COM, @KARALOVELLCERAMICS 

Kara Lovell creates stunning, modern pottery and jewelry that’s a feast for the eyes. The Terre Haute native is currently selling an array of ceramics with bold, graphic patterns in black and white hues—and some pieces have chic little hints of metallic gold or color.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTWORK?

I like to make pottery that is pretty traditional and simple in form, but complex in design. Coming from a background in drawing, I like to create surfaces that I can “draw” on. I want to make pottery that is eye-catching, and maybe functional, though that isn’t always a requirement. Ceramics is typically thought of as a three-dimensional art form, but for me it functions more as a surface for my two-dimensional art. 

WHAT MEDIUM(S) DO YOU PRIMARILY USE IN YOUR ART?

Most of my work is made from clay on a pottery wheel. I then allow it to dry, paint it with underglaze, and then fire it.  I typically approach it in one of two ways: I cover the surface with underglaze and then scratch a design, or I use a tiny brush and paint the design with underglaze.

HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I find inspiration all over the place. First, I try to make the things I want in my own home—and right now, that’s plants and colors and patterns. I also find inspiration from the patterns I see in everyday life: Architectural details and textiles, for example. The Internet is another great place to find inspiration; there are so many talented artists all over. I see a lot of great ceramics on Instagram, and seeing other people’s work definitely inspires me to get on the pottery wheel and create.

Stephanie Groves is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis who once stood in line for hours to get a signed poster from a notable graffiti artist, and right when she got to the front of the line—the poster sold out. 


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