Street Art: Capturing the child in all of us


Kirsten Jansen

A work of street art by Indianapolis artist Joy Hernandez.

Kirsten Jansen, Photo Editor

Lately it seems that people are crushing others’ creativity and imagination. Individuality has become something that is frowned upon, putting us into a society much like that of the book 1984 where the government regulates and monitors everything you do and say and creativity is not allowed. Those of you who have read this book know that there is much more to it, but that is the basic theme behind the book.

However, street artists have not let that stop them from expressing themselves and just enjoying the life they have and sharing what they love with others. Artists such as Joy Hernandez, who resides in Indianapolis, Indiana are sharing their love  in an amazingly beautiful way.

Hernandez has art running in her veins, carrying on the tradition of her family full of artists. She currently is a video photographer and editor at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, which is just another way for her to express her creativity.

When it comes to painting, she has street art and murals that she has painted all over Indianapolis. Her murals are simply just her painting what she likes most of the time, things that bring her enjoyment, which include bright colors. Along with these murals she has done some lifelike portraits of famous individuals such as Amelia Earhart, which is in black and white, in the Circle City Industrial Complex. Nearby that is another portrait of Bill Melendez, the animator and voice of the one and only Snoopy.

On the other end of the spectrum is her most known series or character if you will Bean. At first glance you just see an innocent little astronaut, but there is so much said about her when you do some research. I was able to speak with Hernandez and learn a little more about Bean.

She has loved space and everything in it since she saw the movie Apollo 13 when it was in theaters. From that moment she was hooked on space, then other films and TV shows came out like “From the Earth to the Moon” which cemented it for her.

Bean came to light soon after this, a little, innocent astronaut who looked upward in hope. One thing that she really hit on was his gold face plate on his space helmet which prevents you from seeing his face she said,

“[This means] that anyone could be inside that space suit. The astronaut is all of us.”

The local murals of Bean started after she painted the “Somewhere” mural in the alley in Fountain Square, the one where he is holding a red balloon. 

You may ask where the name Bean came from, well she told me the story. Hernandez said,

“[I] rewatched “From the Earth to the Moon” as part of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and was reminded of Alan Bean, the only artists to have walked on the moon. He retired into painting beautiful; work. That combined with a funny anecdote from my childhood, where a 5-year-old friend responded to a scolding from his mom with, ‘we ain’t no BEANS Mommy!’ lead me to name the astronaut Bean. It was short, innocent, and perfect.”

When it comes to Bean and the gender, Bean is really anything you want him to be. Hernandez tends to refer to him as a ‘he’ sometimes, but Bean can also be a ‘she’ or a ‘they’ which is great for today’s society. Pronouns have become a largely important part of some individual’s lives and how they identify themselves.

To her the gender does not matter, it is whatever the viewer decides to say or see. Bean is her own personal Snoopy: a character who can do anything and

“March to the beat of their own drum,” according to Hernandez.

Bean can do anything you want, and it’s this childhood adventure that makes it so enjoyable. Playing pretend, having imagination, while also keeping that hope of sky and space exploration is what makes him so amazing and great to see.

If you are wondering if Bean is alone, the answer is no, there are friends and even a dog companion for this character. These friend’s names are as follows: Santiago, a robot who appears to be nervous, and Mentos, a ‘exuberant dinosaur. They have not gained the attention that Bean has but Hernandez still enjoys painting them.

Her latest project was done for the NCAA tournament and was named “Shoot for the Stars.” She was one of 600 local artists, performers, and musicians that worked together to liven up downtown Indianapolis, being a part of SWISH. This is a group set to create a welcoming environment for the locals and visitors who will be out during the NCAA March Madness and Final Four tournaments downtown.

So as you can see something as simple as an astronaut can have a deeper meaning to it. Want to see more of Hernandez’s work, look around you never know where you will find it or look it up and go on an adventure and find some new artists you enjoy. Appreciate the art of those who take the time to create it, and let me know if you know of any artists that I should feature next.