(Sept. 21, 1891-Oct. 18, 1968). Born in Indianapolis, African American artist John Wesley Hardrick attended Harriet Beecher Stowe Public School, Manual High School, and john herron art institute. His artistic ability became evident in elementary school and was further developed under the tutelage of Otto Stark at Manual.

Hardrick completed “Little Brown Girl” in 1927. Credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields View Source

Through encouragement from Herman Lieber, owner of H. Lieber Company art supply store, Hardrick enrolled in the Herron children’s classes while in elementary school. The public became aware of his talent as early as 1904 when he won awards for his works exhibited at the Indiana State Fair.

He entered Herron Institute in 1910, taking day drawing and painting classes, and in September of that same year entered 53 works at the Indiana State Fair and won eight awards. While he received a scholarship for one term at Herron, he worked at a foundry to earn additional money for his schooling. He graduated from Herron in 1918.

This winter landscape, Hardrick’s specialty, was completed in 1945. Credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields View Source

Hardrick’s first major exhibit was in January 1914 at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church and consisted of 56 paintings and drawings. After establishing himself in the community as a capable artist, he did not paint for two years but worked as a laborer to support his family.

In 1927, he shared a studio at 541 Indiana Avenue with fellow Herron alumnus Hale WoodruffThe Little Brown Girl was one of five paintings that won second place in the Harmon Foundation awards for Black artists that same year. A group of Black citizens bought the painting in 1929 and donated it to Herron. After a decades-long disappearance, the painting was rediscovered and returned to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1994. 

Hardrick’s work is represented by landscape paintings in the collections of both the INDIANA STATE MUSEUM and the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Revised February 2021

Help improve this entry

Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images.

You can also recommend new entries related to this topic.