INDIANAPOLIS — All month long, 13News has been recognizing Black culture leaders in Indianapolis for Black History Month.
Courtland Blade is an Indianapolis artist who has traveled across the country to learn his trade and have his artwork seen.
"I would like (my art) to be enjoyed and have a life of its own once it's created," the contemporary artist said, whose work focuses on oil painting. "It's just got a natural quality to it, pulling from real life. But at the same time, it has an abstract goal to it."
Blade's work has been shown both nationally and internationally, and is in various public and private collections, including the permanent collections at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana State University, DePauw University, Sishang Art Museum and Eskenazi Health.
Blade said he's glad to call Indianapolis home, in a city that's focused on growing the arts.
"You see the growth over the years," Blade said. "It is pretty inspiring seeing the growth and changes."
And Blade is part of the change. His work lines the hallway outside of his office in the Harrison Center.
"It is emotional to do the paintings of your life," Blade said. "It's tied to memories and emotions as you get further away."
As for some of Blade's favorite paintings, he highlights two with family connections: one with his young daughter and his wife, who was pregnant with their son at the time, and another inside of a church where his grandfather used to preach and later became a pastor.
Blade's work also focuses on Indianapolis landscapes and areas he says Black people and people of color feel safe and not like they have to fit in.
"Every piece here, I've been to the space or they're part of some experience that I have, so all of them have some kind of story tied to it," Blade said. "If it's seeing an aesthetic quality, certain lighting or contrast, or it was an event that happened, I enjoyed the space and the memories tied to it."