Author Chantel Massey, Featured at the Indy Arts Council’s Art & Soul, Shares the Importance of Celebrating Black Art

2022 marks the 26th year for the Indy Arts Council’s Art & Soul celebration that amplifies, recognizes, honors, and celebrates an abundance of Black artists in the city.
A photo of Chantel Massey for Art & Soul

black woman wearing a yellow blazer smiling with teeth holding a red book

The Indy Arts Council’s Art & Soul officially kicked off last weekend and there are some incredible events happening throughout the month and beyond for you to attend. Highlighting more than 50 artists, Art & Soul will have everything from dance, poetry, visual art, and music waiting for you. This year, all four featured artists are women, and we had the opportunity to chat with one of them.

Does the name Chantel Massey ring a bell? You may remember her from our LIT event in April. Chantel shared a bit with us about her start as a writer, her involvement in Art & Soul, and its importance for Indianapolis.

black woman wearing a tan blazer and white turtle neck with a big red necklace posing smiling with teeth holding her hands together in front of her stomach
Chantel Massey; photo by Wildstyle Paschall

Chantel Massey (she/her) is a poet, author, teaching artist, educator, practicing Afrofuturist, and anime lover based in Indiana, and she is looking forward to seeing the community turnout at events this summer.

Chantel said that in her younger years, “poets such as Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou inspired me to begin writing, like so many other people. My family also inspired me, particularly my aunt who encouraged me to use poetry as a way to process difficult things and feelings I was dealing with at such a young age. During times when I may have felt alone, writing, especially poetry, was a safe place for me to find some peace and my voice.”


This year, Chantel is the featured artist for the Black Theatre/Poetry Day taking place on Juneteenth (June 19) at the Warren Performing Arts Center. As a featured artist she has the opportunity to work with others in her creative art form to help with mentorship and professional development.

Three of the Art & Soul featured artists
Three of the Art & Soul featured artists (left to right) Shayla Williams, Karome Walker, and Chantel Massey; photo by KP’s Photography

Each year Art & Soul has a theme, and this year it is “Black Health and Wellness.” Through her work, Chantel’s mission is to inspire curiosity and to provoke conversation. She hopes to center black health and wellness by delving into topics like “black joy” and what that looks like.

When asked what impact she hopes this event will have on the community, Chantel said: “Through my art I want to keep conversations going about how we add a practice of health and wellness into the Black community both as individuals, but also as a community, especially as we work to understand our new normal.”

This event is not only a tradition to recognize and celebrate Black art but also a chance to remember the history and impact Black artists have had on the city. Black art shares both the beautiful and hard experiences across generations and our stories deserve to be told. This event creates the space to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved.

I am so excited to see Chantel perform and asked what we can expect from her on Juneteenth.

Chantel said: “I will be doing spoken word for this event; some of the work is new for the program, but I also have an enhanced version. I am inviting other artists to be a part of my performance, and I’m hoping we can demonstrate a conversation about how Art & Soul is connected to a bigger thread in Indianapolis. We’ll be looking at art and history and honoring the future and the past, as well as where we are now as Black artists. Black art and Black History are important parts of the Indianapolis history and culture just as much as any other art.”


This year’s art and soul signature artist events will take place at four different locations throughout the city, each with a specific creative focus. You can learn more about these events and other celebrations here.

  • June 4th – Kick-Off Celebration & Black Art Day with featured artist Shayla Williams
  • June 11th – Black Dance Day with featured artist Karome Walker
  • June 19th – Black Theater/Poetry Day with featured artist Chantel Massey
  • June 24th – Black Music Day with featured artist Marrialle Sellars

If you are interested in being a featured artist for next year you can find more information at the event’s website.

Jalysa King is Indy Maven’s Sales Maven as well as a freelance writer in Indianapolis who loves all things healthcare, education, and storytelling.

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