The words “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” adorn the top of the Murphy Arts Center. The message gazes over downtown Fountain Square, watching as cars and people come and go. It has become a symbol of Fountain Square. However, the sign was scheduled to be permanently removed because of the degradation of it’s appearance.
Yet, the words were refurbished. Lights were added to illuminate the sign at night in December of last year, and the message was redesigned to be made of lightweight aluminum.
Nectar Gonzalez, a biology student at IUPUI has been coming faithfully to this area every weekend for four years.
“It’s always refreshing to see the sign. You don’t know that you need to reminded of something like that until you look up, and it’s right there in huge letters,” Gonzalez explains.
The sign was inspired by the You Are Beautiful movement. The creator, Matthew Hoffman, started the movement to “better the world in little ways” as he explains on his website.
It started out as very small, Hoffman handed out a hundred stickers. The words “You Are Beautiful” were written minimalistically and surrounded by a thin black border.
Hoffman never expected this simple message to reach not only across the country, but across oceans as well.
In an interview with the Oprah Winfrey Network, Hoffman said, “People would put the stickers up and send in photos. All of a sudden I began receiving photos from all over the world. Places like Amsterdam, Mongolia, Brussels, Vietnam, Russia, Cambodia and even the Great Wall of China.”
Art installations of the words went up all over the country in areas like Fountain Square, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, etc. spreading the message of positivity and self-love. It’s a way to connect all walks of life with one universal reminder.
Movements like these and other forms of public art help improve the public’s outlook and encourages people to feel more confident in themselves. Public reaction to this art has been as positive as the message itself.
“For me, I think the most meaningful part has been the response from the people that the message has touched…I had no idea where it would lead to,” Hoffman said.
As Indiana begins to thaw out in the upcoming spring weather, foot traffic in the cultural hubs of Indianapolis will increase, and the words “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” are displayed proudly for all to see.
A newcomer to the Fountain Square area, Jacquelyn Fry, shared her constant struggle with positivity, “I don’t let myself hear that I’m beautiful very often. Even if someone tells me, I just laugh and tell them thanks even if I don’t mean it. It’s hard to miss those words driving up. I think they were the first thing I saw.”
Fry enjoyed the area’s emphasis on creative expression and is looking forward to discovering more pieces of public art. The message is as simple as it can get, and yet those three words have touched countless lives.
“I think the fact that it’s such a simple concept is what makes it so powerful. People can understand and accept, I don’t know, quantum physics, before they can accept that they are beautiful,” Fry said.