Our artists are important civic leaders in Milwaukee. We rely on their voices to bring forward momentum and progress, reflection and commentary, resilience and fortitude.
Our Road of Democracy project is a continuation of the conversation started by the work of MKE Downtown, Dasha Kelly Hamilton, and Della Wells. You can read more about the downtown installation here. Leading up to the election, Imagine MKE commissioned the work of three artists, and presented a series of virtual panels that engaged with what it means to be a citizen artist, how art is a driver for racial justice, and more. Post-election, we will continue to find avenues for these important intersections of civic life and art in Milwaukee.
Road of Democracy Commissions
Three artists were selected by our review panel to receive $1500 for their short-term projects that responded to the call of: What does democracy mean to you? How is our city contributing to the road of democracy this election season?
This project was made possible with support from Arts Wisconsin and funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Arts Wisconsin’s “We’re All In” Creative Workforce Program is a workforce engagement and development program to put Wisconsin’s creative workers back to work during the pandemic.
NICOLE ACOSTA, "HOOPS"
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Nicole is a first generation multi-disciplinary Mexican artist. Acosta's work reflects the exploration of her identity, experience, and storytelling. Says Acosta on the project, "The current state of our country is once again failing to amplify the voices, stories and contributions of women of color in our communities. As an artist, my work focuses on the reclamation and documentation and celebration of women identifying folks. My current HOOPS Portrait Project naturally asserts our bodies, cultures, and stories while simultaneously dismantling perception. Ultimately, the subjects in my photographs are saying 'my voice matters, I matter.'"
Nicole's four installations can now be viewed in person at three locations: Arts@Large, the African American Chamber of Commerce, and Foiled Salon.
- Watch a video of one of the women featured in the portraits, LaShawndra Vernon, talking about the importance of hoops here.
- Watch a video of the artist sharing more about the whole project here.
JOSHUA YANG, "UNITE"
Joshua is a choreographer, teacher, and dancer. Yang is a versatile artist, utilizing foundations from hip-hop and blending other principles. Yang's project is a dance performance titled "Unite," which deals with themes of the angst and abrasiveness of egocentrism, and how we are to unite as humans for the betterment of mankind - finding ways to make progress, together.
"Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security." Joshua's piece uses audio from Charlie Chaplin's iconic movie "The Great Dictator" (starting at 2:00) - which includes the words above. Says Joshua, "Because of today’s time, I wanted the rest of the world to hear this speech. Hoping that it’ll make an impact somehow. The wild thing is that the message is still very prevalent from the 40s till now."
ANNA LARDINOIS, "FORWARD: MILWAUKEE WOMEN ON THE ROAD OF DEMOCRACY"
Anna is a writer and speaker who celebrates the best Milwaukee has to offer. She is the author of several Milwaukee-focused books, and is a former Pfister Narrator. Anna's project highlights the lives of Vel Phillips; Golda Meir; Mathilde Franziska Anneke; and the Oneida women Marjorie Stevens, Marge Funmaker, and Darlene Neconish. Explore their stories through this video, and reading and discussion over on Anna's website.