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artist | educator | creator of things

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photo by Caleb J. Smith

My creative liberation is an act of rebellion. A way of vocalizing the graffiti of words and images in my head. Drawing inspiration from urban street art, much of my work is crafted with the grunge of city culture, the sounds of shaking spray cans, and the smell of aerosol in mind. Mixing mediums, my personal expression manifests in the form of typographic prose, abstract paintings, photographic narration, handcrafted objects, character illustrations and digital imagery.

Much of what I create is in homage to the people, places, sights, and sounds that continuously mold my style and creative outlook. My work has journeyed from pen and ink, to graphic prints, and currently to mixed media and acrylic paint on a variety of surfaces. The themes have varied, but often touch on subjects of hip hop culture, race, and social justice.


As an arts educator, I’ve made it my mission to make the arts and art creation accessible to people of all ages, but especially for youth and young adults from our city’s underserved communities. Much of my programming and my teaching in the school setting is facilitated within our inner city, in order to give the youth of these areas inspiration and to be a representation of what is possible.

Ess, as in the letter "S" for Sylvia, and McKee - my middle name.
Hello, I am Ess McKee.


Since the age of eight, my love for creativity, music and the arts has inspired me to make my dream of becoming an innovative, artistic entrepreneur, a reality. 


I discovered my passion through my appreciation of graffiti art and hip hop culture. By creating sketches for my classmates in middle school and designing t-shirts for different organizations, I began to grow in my craft and came to realize where my talents would best be served. I decided to continue to develop these talents in college while attending Ball State University, (where I majored in Industry & Technology, and minored in Studio Art). In addition to pursing my education, I was given the opportunity to create several t-shirt designs for the members of the Ball State Track & Field Team. On Ball State campus is where my entrepreneurship and life of an artist began. 


Currently, I am an art teacher for grades K-8, a mixed media visual artist/muralist/photographer, adjunct faculty at IUPUI - Herron School of Art & Design and a member of the XVIII Art Collective.

*Solo shows marked by asterisk

  • TINY XI                                                                           Gallery 924, Indianapolis
                                                             December 2, 2022 - January 12, 2023

  • XVIII: PERSPECTIVE                                                   The Harrison Center, Indianapolis
                                     November 4-28, 2022

  • WE. THE CULTURE:                                                                                                Works by The Eighteen Art Collective          The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields                                              September 22, 2022 - September 24, 2023

  • BUTTER ART FAIR                                                         The Stutz Building, Indianapolis
     September 1-4, 2022

  • FUTURE FORWARD                                      Saks Fifth Avenue Art Gallery, Indianapolis
    August 9 - September 6, 2022

  • THAT FEELING WHEN*                                            The Harrison Center, Indianapolis
                    June 3, 2022 - June 30, 2022


  • MEET THE ARTIST XXXIV                                               The Indianapolis Central Library
     January 26, 2022 - April 2, 2022

  • THE EIGHTEEN: 365+                                                      The Indianapolis Art Center
    August 27, 2021 - October 15, 2021

  • "PARK HERE" MURAL - LILLY DAY OF SERVICE                         Garfield Park, Indianapolis   September 2021

  • BUTTER ART FAIR                                                        The Stutz Building, Indianapolis 
    September 3-5, 2021


  • "HAPPY DAZE" MURAL - THE ART WALK AT CLAY TERRACE             Clay Terrace, Carmel                                                              August 2021 - October 2022

  • Stories from Our Community: The Art of Protest         The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
    August 7, 2021 - present


  • “KIDS STUFF”, “ODE TO VINYL”, “UNTITLED” - MURALS                                                
        Ujamaa Community Bookstore, Indianapolis 
     July 2021

  • Pareidolia                                                KIND Gallery - The Indianapolis International Airport June - October 2021t

  • MURALS FOR RACIAL JUSTICE: ONE YEAR LATER - PANELIST                                       
    The Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Public Library
     June 12, 2021

  • Grind Culture                                                           The Harrison Center, Indianapolis
    April 2021

  • Distress Signal*                                                     Purdue Black Cultural Center - West LafayetteApril 2021

  • THE GROWTH ADVENTURE PODCAST - GUEST.              Gregory & Appel, Indianapolis
     March 18, 2021

  • “WELCOME TO INDY” - BANNER ILLUSTRATOR/DESIGNER                                       
    Gregory & Appel, Indianapolis

     March 2021

  • “POWER TO THE PATIENTS”- MURAL                   Bluebeard Restaurant, Fountain Square 
    March 2021

  • Distress Signal*                                       The Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis                        November 2020

  • THE ELEPHANT GARDENS - MURAL                                 The Elephant Gardens, Indpls
     November 2020

  • “ALICE CARTER PARK MURAL”                                         Alice Carter Park, Indianapolis
    August 2020

  • “S” - BLACK LIVES MATTER MURAL                                    Indiana Avenue, Indianapolis
     August 2020

  • “THE FUTURE IS NOW” MURALS FOR RACIAL JUSTICE                                               
    The Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indianapolis
      June 12, 2020

    New York & Rural, Indianapolis
           May, 2020

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