Nestled in the heart of St. Clair Place, Rabble Coffee House was the venue hosting The Underground Presents: Mississippi Goddam. The coffee shop was draped in local artwork with an eclectic vibe you would never find at Starbucks. The focus of this event was to pay tribute to the iconic Nina Simone, and songs against tyranny. Being a longtime fan of Nina, I was excited to view the different renditions of her songs being revisited.
This was my first time attending an “Underground Presents…” event, and I throughly enjoyed the experience. This was arguably the most diverse group of people I have been around. There were attendees of all shades and ages –from as young as toddlers, to senior citizens — all whom were enjoying the atmosphere.
The event started around 7pm with some spoken word about police brutality. One of the poetry pieces focused on the story of Micheal Taylor, a 16 year old Indianapolis black male who was killed from being shot in the head while hand cuffed in the back seat of a police car. While the police stated Taylor shot himself with a gun, hidden in his high top sneakers…we know truth all too well. This seems like a current event we should be protesting at this very moment, but this story was from 1987. Reading the original news article bout Taylor’s death felt like a look into the future rather a story from our past.
The next artist to present was Monique Burts, a student at Herron School of Art & Design. There was a white platform and a woman standing there with 4 levels of hoops and strings and beads. I was clueless as to what I was about to see. Then “Four Women” by Nina Simone began playing and the dancer began to perform with the sculpture on. The power behind the words of the music, and behind the dancing & the piece of artwork was moving. Afterwards the artist explained how every material in the sculpture garment was used to inflict pain or torture on African Americans throughout history. One of the most moving pieces of art & activism I have encountered.
There was a musical artist who sang “Books the Soul Scholar” and played piano, and the entire event in general had artwork that spoke out against some systemic faction. I spoke with creator of the The Underground Presents Stardust Adita she stated her goal was to have people “get together and express themselves creatively against injustices, whether it be towards the education system or police brutality. Some people protest and others have different means to express their rage or frustrations and I wanted to give people a way to do that.”
I also spoke to the owner of Rabble Coffee Josie Hunckler who said she created Rabble Coffee with the “idea of inclusion in mind” and wanted her coffee shop to “feel welcoming to everyone.” Josie allows artist to display and sell their art throughout her establishment free of charge. They also feature a new artists every month, and is renting the space next to the coffee shop to hosting a pop up art gallery. Currently on exhibit is Clayton Hamilton an Indianapolis Native. Rabble Coffee shop has hosted a variety of events throughout their two years in business. Serving locally sourced coffee and dope vibes it is a great place to relax and meet new people.
These are the type of events Indianapolis is in desperate need of. The sub culture of the city is continually building, and it is imperative that we share and support. Needless to say — I’ll be returning back to Rabble and attending more “Underground Presents…” events.
Below are some pictures from the artwork displayed please find artist information here.