By Chris Bavender
Art has always been a “magnet” for Koda Witsken’s soul – inspiring her because it challenges her.
“Drawing me in for a pretty simple fact – it is so powerfully contrary. It is silent but transcends language and almost always has a loud message,” the 26-year-old said. “It can put one person to sleep, but in the next instant wake up another to a whole new way of seeing the world. It can follow strict rules and styles in one frame, then break all of them in the next.”
Witsken, who grew up in Fishers and graduated from Hamilton Southeastern High School, ios one of four muralists selected by Thompson Thrift Retail Group to “bring art to life” to the Fishers District – an 18-acre, mixed-use development at 116th Street and Ikea Way.
“Thompson Thrift has selected four outstanding artists with very different backgrounds, styles and relationships to Fishers,” Nickel Plate Arts Executive Director Ailithir McGill said. “Each will leave their unique fingerprints on the Fishers District and add to the story of the Fishers community.”
“It means the world to me that the first public mural I did was six years ago for the City of Fishers, and now I get to come back and complete a project roughly four times larger,” said Witsken, founder and lead muralist of Hue Murals. “Fishers has always been my home, but this project makes me feel like a new chapter is opening with this as the commemorative moment. Now, I get to start my own family and be part of building a new, more vibrant community for them. It’s really an honor.”
Witsken describes her style as “color vomit.”
“A balance between impressionism, illustration, fauvism and photo realism,” she said. “I enjoy utilizing the entire spectrum with expressive strokes. My mission is to bring my home state’s residents together, literally, through public art and figuratively through the discussions that art implies.”
The theme for Witsken’s 30-foot by 9-foot mural is “Thanks for Being Weird with Me” and highlights Fishers’ “vibrant and entrepreneurial brand” while being wholly unique. It will be at the entrance of the project off of Ikea Way.
“To truly learn, to put yourself out there, to be not merely book-smart but emotionally intelligent as well as in tune with business sense, you need a community,” she said. “To me, ‘community’ means that people support you, love you, and sometimes, yes, they get weird with you. True supporters see your uniqueness, celebrate and help you hone it into a strength. This mural pays tribute to Fishers’ brand, and mine, in this way as well as the support systems that help so many grow into smart, vibrant members of the Indiana community.”
Witsken is tentatively scheduled to start her mural in spring 2020. Other muralists selected are Dan Toro, Laramie, Wyoming, and Megan Jefferson and Travis Neal of Indianapolis.