Courtesy: Eskenazi Health, Photo: Hadley Fruits
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Crossroads II

Indianapolis, Indiana

Ismael Muhammad Nieves (

Eskenazi Health | Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital l 4th Floor Special Medicine & Infusion Center Outpatient Waiting Room, 720 Eskenazi Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202
Owner:  Eskenazi Health (
Date:  2013
Placement:  hospitals
Collection:  Eskenazi Health Art Collection
Artwork Type:  acrylic paintings, paintings (visual works), mural paintings (visual works)
Material:  acrylic paint
Description:  Crossroads is a mural consisting of two paintings with the purpose of creating a warm environment and the objective of keeping the Eskenazi community engaged with every visit. The murals appropriate “iconic” images from the Eskenazi Health art collection together with Native American and Indiana state symbols incorporated with graffiti shapes. Artist Ismael Muhammad Nieves wanted to create an environment similar to sitting on a porch or by a large window and letting the mind wander while enjoying the Indiana landscape. “Indiana’s landscape is beautiful year-round. The landscape has been enjoyed through contemporary eyes as well as the Native Americans who call this land home. Throughout the mural are woodland scenes directly inspired from the Eskenazi Health Art Collection. The animals, trees, and foliage in the murals are native to Indiana. Incorporating graffiti shapes and palette, in my opinion, creates a fun atmosphere for the waiting area. There are parts of my painting that were inspired by Eskenazi Health’s existing art collection. I challenge the viewers to identify them.” -Ismael Muhammad Nieves

“In Crossroads II, there's a chipmunk. The story told by the Miami elders to their children is of how they have a friend in the chipmunk. As the story goes, animals introduced sickness to the Miamis. The chipmunks felt bad witnessing the sickness. They went and talked to the plants and trees. The trees held a council and decided to help. The chipmunk ran back to the tribe and shared with them what the plants and trees offered to relieve their sickness. The chipmunk in the mural represents compassion and advocacy. From stories of the Great Hare making man to how man first received fire, hares play an important part in many Native American traditions. The scattered hairs are in respect for the symbolism of Native American tribes. They are also for the youth in waiting areas to look at and enjoy. In Crossroads II, dragonflies, admired by the Miamis for their flight patterns, are placed in the lower corners. The dragonflies symbolize and represent the four cardinal points. Sprigs of sage, sassafras leaves, sweet grasses are laid out throughout the mural. These are some of the plants the Native Americans regarded highly and are found throughout various legends and ceremonies. Geese in flight represent the commitment of the Eskenazi staff to its patients. Geese annually migrate to warmer climates during the winter. As gifted navigators, geese forge ahead with confidence and bravery with intricate methods of communication. They work as a team to communicate messages. Should a goose become injured during this track, another goose will leave the migrating flock to stay with its fallen comrade. The goose will stay with the injured until he has recovered or until it's final breath.” - Ismael Muhammad Nieves

The Crossroads series depicts a variety of brightly-colored native flora and fauna of Indiana in a graffiti-like style. The each work measures 158 x 49.5 inches framed. The design was sketched onto the canvas, and then the image was painted with acrylic paint from 4 to 10 layers depending on the area. Assistant Peggy Lopez helped with the painting of the artwork. The mural is in two parts due to the walls being separated.

Nieves grew up on the lower east side of New York City in the 1970s, immersed in early hip-hop culture and writing graffiti along with the other kids in his neighborhood. He also spent time in Puerto Rico, his parents’ native country, and moved to Indiana as a teen. After serving in the U.S. military, he received his BS in electrical engineering from Purdue University.A self-taught artist, Nieves has been involved with Subsurface, Indianapolis’ graffiti event drawing acclaimed artists from across the United States, both as an artist and an organizer. He has had solo exhibitions at South Shore Arts, the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, the IU Northwest Gallery for Contemporary Art and Uncle Freddy’s Gallery, a community arts space in Hammond, Ind. His work has appeared in group exhibitions at the Sheldon Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, 2612 Space and Supreme Gallery in Chicago and Crewest Gallery in Los Angeles, among others. Nieves has also produced several public mural commissions. He is based in Hammond, Indiana.

Dedicated with gratitude The Ruthelen and Andrew Burns Family



Eskenazi Health Art Installations

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