Helmets, Hoosier Hospitality, And The Olympics

The unique mementos that Paris-bound swimmers will take with them are being made with a distinctly Indiana spin.
Photography by Mike Botkin/Indianapolis Monthly. Amiah Mims, curator of the Olympic Swim Trials helmets holds her two designs in the air. In front are helmets designed by local artists Fritz (right) and Lucie Rice.

Living in Indiana, Hoosier Hospitality is just part of the way you are. Ingrained in the state’s culture is this tradition of kindness to others, the spirit of volunteerism, and ethos of treating people the way you would want to be treated.

The swimmers competing in this week’s U.S. Olympic Trials will leave this meet with a spot on the Paris team and the memories of being a part of a historic 2024 event. But to the Indiana Sports Corp, just making the team was not prize enough for the athletes. It was decided to give each new Olympian a unique parting gift. Hoosier hospitality strikes.

And what Indy-centric gift would be more appropriate than a racing helmet like those worn by Indy 500 drivers? These special helmets are adorned with artwork from local artists with their interpretation of the Trials and Indy. “We wanted to create a keepsake that looks different but tells the story of their journey here to Indianapolis,” says noted local artist and curator of the Olympic Swim Trial helmets Amiah Mims who told the artists to make their design “All things Indy.”

Mims, an Indianapolis native, who describes her typical work as colorful, bright, and bold, was selected to head this project by Carol Howard, executive director of Rev Indiana who introduced her to Ashleigh Newbold, vice president of engagement for ISC. Mims’ job was to come up with a concept and a strategy to complete the souvenirs in a short amount of time. So, the former Kent State gymnast and Pike High graduate reached out and commissioned a team of 13 local digital artists to fill a template she created with their art. “Nobody I contacted turned down the job,” she says.

Each of the 13 artists created two helmets that were duplicated to reach a total of 52 helmets. There was a bit of back-and-forth between artists and ISC, who approved all designs prior to print. “The favorite part of this project was when I received the final approved artwork,” says Mims.

The helmets are on display in the Olympic Trials Swim Zone inside the Indiana Convention Center. Following the selection of the team, the ISC will choose the design that best fits the athlete, and their name will be placed above the visor on the front of the helmet.

“A nice undertone of this was getting to know and work with fellow artists,” says Mims. “This was a fun project to work on.”

Here is a list of all the helmet artists with samples of their other works: Aaron Scamihorn, Amiah Mims, Byron Elliott, Fitz, Israel Solomon, Jingo M. de la Rosa, Koda Witsken, Lucie Rice, Maria Iqbal, Omar Rashan, Shamira Wilson, Shaunt’e Lewis, and Tasha Beckwith.