This Q&A is part of a series of stories about Herron's Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, their careers, and the impact they've had on their communities through exceptional practice and/or dedication to the school.
Tasha Beckwith (B.F.A. General Fine Arts '06), an Indianapolis-based visual artist whose work can be found throughout the city, is our 2023 Distinguished Alum.
Beckwith's portrait-based work and public art projects serve as a powerful reminder of the impact that art can have on individuals and communities. She meticulously plans each piece, ensuring that it not only captures the essence of its subject but also engages, inspires, and tells a story.
Her murals and billboards have graced a variety of public spaces including the headquarters of the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis International Airport, the Martens historic apartment building, and Fishers' Nickel Plate District. Her work has been shown throughout Central Indiana as well as at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio, and the Roanne H. Victor Gallery in Louisville.
We are honored to spotlight Beckwith and look forward to seeing the continued impact of her work in the years to come.
HERRON: First and foremost, congratulations on receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award. You wrote on Instagram after receiving the award during our Class of 2023 recognition event, "I never do anything for recognition or awards, but it's nice to be seen." What does this award mean to you?
TASHA BECKWITH: This award means a lot to me. It is an honor. It means that what I am doing as an artist is not going unnoticed and my art is making an impact in the city. This makes me even more proud of the work that I'm creating, and I look forward to what the future holds for me.
HERRRON: Let's start at the beginning. What originally piqued your interest in becoming a visual artist? What was the biggest factor in your decision to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts?
BECKWITH: Throughout my childhood, I was always drawn to the arts. My interest peaked in high school when I had amazing teachers who told me I could go to college and pursue a degree in art. No one in my family had ever been to college, so I assumed that once I graduated from high school, I would just find a job to work. But I had a defining moment during my senior year.
The NAACP has a competition where students compete in science, performing arts, visual arts, and other categories. My teachers entered me into that competition, and I won at a local level. I got to compete at a national level in Baltimore, Maryland, and I ended up winning second place in their painting category. I also won a small scholarship to college. The experience really solidified that this is something I was meant to do.
HERRON: Your artwork, which combines traditional and digital media, is in the style of Afrofuturism, which focuses on Black history and culture and incorporates visual elements commonly used in science fiction and fantasy illustrations. How have you defined your style and artistic voice from your undergraduate studies to the present?
BECKWITH: After my undergraduate studies, I thought I knew what kind of art I wanted to make. But one day, as I was reviewing my work, I felt like it wasn't good enough and wasn't going to have the desired impact. So I spent a lot of time researching and looking at other artists' work that I admired, taking note of which elements worked best and incorporating some of those things into my own pieces, which caused the work to evolve into what it is today.
HERRON: Your creative career has progressed from two-dimensional works on paper to large-scale public artworks throughout the city, thanks to several projects and commissions from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. What aspect of your career has had the most personal impact so far?
BECKWITH: I absolutely love public artwork and the fact that it's accessible to everyone because it is not contained within four walls. I also love that black people get to see themselves represented in these large-scale works.