A Giant Mural Shows Indiana Is Already Ready for Caitlin Clark

Credit - Courtesy Kwazar Martin

When Indianapolis-based street artist Kwazar Martin heard, on Feb. 29, that Iowa State guard Caitlin Clark would forgo her last year of eligibility at Iowa to enter the WNBA draft, he knew he had to act. Or someone else would.

This season, Clark passed “Pistol” Pete Maravich to become the all-time leading scorer in NCAA basketball history. Her ability to sink 30-feet-and-beyond three-pointers, á la Steph Curry, with unquestionable swagger has captivated the country. She’s appeared in Gatorade and State Farm commercials. She’s the biggest star in college hoops—regardless of gender—and since the Indiana Fever holds the top pick in the April 15 WNBA draft, Clark will almost certainly be arriving in the basketball-obsessed Hoosier State. So Martin got out his paint cans and went to work.

The result: a 20-ft.-wide, 15-ft.-high mural of Clark that Martin created on the west side of Indianapolis, on the wall of a warehouse his family owns. The painting features an image of Clark—with her game face—and the logos of the Fever and Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes. Clark’s final NCAA tournament campaign begins on Saturday, at Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye arena, against the winner of the Holy Cross-University of Tennessee-Martin First Four game.

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Murals of iconic athletes have become more commonplace in our culture. They popped up all over the world, for example, after Kobe Bryant died suddenly in 2020. Last year, multiple murals greeted Lionel Messi in Miami. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a local artist paying tribute to an athlete before his or her official arrival in their city.

Clark is just that big a deal. “I’m willing to roll the dice,” Martin says in a video interview. And Martin figured that whether or not the Fever actually selects Clark, a Clark painting would be good for business. “Either it happens, and the mural talk gets to start all over again,” says Martin. “Or it doesn’t happen, and the mural talk gets to start all over again. It’s really a win-win situation.”

For good measure, Martin scrolled through the accounts Clark follows on Instagram. He found just one WNBA team: the Fever.

Fans certainly believe Clark’s Indy-bound. Season-ticket prices for the Fever more than doubled, and the cost of one ticket for the Fever’s home opener, on May 16 against the New York Liberty, ranges $294 to more than $4,000 on Vivid Seats. Clark just signed an NIL deal with Gainbridge, title sponsor of the Fever’s home arena, Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Despite all signs pointing to Clark in a Fever uniform, Martin has received some blowback for his mural. “Aren’t we jumping the gun a bit here?” wondered one Facebook user. “She aint won a single game yet. This is ridiculous,” said another. Some wondered why Martin, who unveiled a mural of Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton in time for this year’s NBA All-Star game in Indianapolis, painted Clark before Fever legend Tamika Catchings, a Hall of Famer who played with the franchise from 2002 to 2016.

“I think they miss the point of what I was doing,” says Martin, who’s 42. “I wanted to put people on the wall who are actually active right now, with the hype surrounding them. I want it to be geared towards the younger crowd, who are actually watching these games. That's how the pieces live on.” Martin plans on adding a Colts player to the collection. He won’t name names but mentions that the Colts have a player who’s actually from Indianapolis. “I kind of want to put him up there,” says Martin. (Colts cornerback Julius “Juju” Brents went to Warren Central High School in Indy.)

Like much of the country, Martin first became familiar with Clark during last year’s NCAA championship game, when Clark, who’s known for her on-court trash talk, received a ribbing from LSU’s Angel Reese near the end of the Tigers’ victory. So this season, Martin says, “I kind of locked in on her, and yeah, she’s the real deal.” His Clark mural has already attracted more attention and tourists than his Haliburton one, and he anticipates a “crazy summer” in Indianapolis during Clark’s rookie year with the Fever. “She’s got a kind of bravado about herself, and a confidence,” Martin says. “That’s what everybody wants to see. She checks all the boxes.”

Martin’s been artistic for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he would do pencil drawings of the cars he saw in Lowrider magazine. In his early 30s, Martin spent 17 months in prison for dealing narcotics, but while away, he earned his GED and recommitted to his creative work. "I would call home quite often and talk to my mother, and she would always just be like, 'Remember what you're supposed to be doing. Just do your art, do your art,'" Martin says. "I told her, 'That's what I'm going to do.' Once I came home, I just completely focused on art 100%." In recent years, his work has been featured in Indianapolis and throughout the country: Las Vegas; Buffalo, N.Y.; Nashville; Louisville, Ky. He may sell prints of his Clark art.

And even though Indiana is playing in the women’s March Madness, Martin will be cheering for the Hawkeyes. In his eyes, Clark’s already a Hoosier. “Everything she does from this point,” says Martin, “comes with her.”

Write to Sean Gregory at