The Great State of Indiana

Indiana is home to over six million people. Most of them (87.5 percent) are European American. More than two-thirds (4.3 million) live in urban areas. Our research spotlights the creativity that runs like a vein of limestone through the lives of these people.

Indiana is a culturally varied, rich, and vibrant collection of traditional artists practicing traditional arts. While the state’s ethnic diversity has historically been concentrated in its largest urban areas (the Calumet Region, South Bend, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and the outskirts of Louisville, Evansville, Terre Haute, and Lafayette), an increasing Latino migration is further diversifying Indiana’s cultural landscape. Latinos are bringing their traditions with them and passing them on to their own families – as well as many “Hoosiers” statewide.

What matters to Hoosiers? “Indiana — where basketball is a religion, and pie is one of the four food groups!” quips Dorothy Ilgen, former director of the Indiana Arts Commission. While that’s certainly true, there’s much more. Within the political boundaries that arbitrarily define Indiana, we have heard the sonorous sounds of Lady Sax from the heart of Gary and marveled at the meticulous weaving of a chair caner from Tell City along the bluffs of the Ohio River. We have had our bodies adorned with the mendhi artistry of Shital Parmar and tried our own hand at Japanese origami. We’ve watched a Serbian iconographer at work and tasted the ribs of countless backyard barbeque masters. We’ve tapped our feet at bluegrass gatherings and sampled pan de los muertos at a Day of the Dead Celebration in Indianapolis.

Inhabitants of northern, southern, and central Indiana have cultivated distinct artistic traditions, heavily influenced by geography, occupation, and settlement patterns. We make it our job to keep in touch with them all. As a partner of the Indiana Arts Commission, TAI has surveyed Indiana’s artistic diversity according to the twelve administrative regions used to organize and promote local artistic activities. Click on the links below for the northern, central or southern region of the map for more information. Or, visit our Folk Traditions portal.