Jeramey Jannene

Florists For Social Justice at Sherman Phoenix

New sculpture honors fight for racial equality.

By - Jul 3rd, 2020 06:26 pm
Sherman Phoenix floral sculpture. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Sherman Phoenix floral sculpture. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

MKE Seen, a floral artist collective, installed a new sculptural piece outside the Sherman Phoenix marketplace at 3535 W. Fond du Lac Ave. on Friday morning.

Sally Vander Wyst, founder of Milwaukee Flower Co., was one of nine “co-conspirators” that worked to design and erect the sculpture. It’s intended to provide a message of positivity.

“We wanted to add a little softness to the conversation about racial justice,” said Vander Wyst. “Our message today is we see you, we hear you, we can help you.” The group also provided free flower bouquets for anyone visiting the market.

Vander Wyst said the sculpture, which surrounds a painted fist, is made from a “really unique mix of flowers,” including Calendulas, Ninebark, Colocasia and Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susans). “What we really like about that is that flower symbolizes encouragement,” said the florist about the Rudbeckia.

The installation honors Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT MKE) and the over two dozen minority-owned businesses in the Sherman Phoenix. The marketplace opened in 2018 in a former bank that was damaged in the 2016 Sherman Park unrest.

“The entire point of this is to draw attention to LIT Milwaukee or whoever we’re highlighting,” said Rachel Stenman, a goldsmith in the collective.

The group formed in 2017 to do three installations and reunited this year to do a Juneteenth day installation outside America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

The flowers used in the piece would have otherwise been composted because of the cancellations of weddings and other large events as a result of the pandemic. Vander Wyst estimated the installation would have cost $6,000 at market price.

The Sherman Phoenix piece is planned to last through Monday morning. Photos are encouraged.

What’s next? The group plans a large one-day installation in August at multiple locations that are either Black-owned businesses or cultural institutions.


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More about the 2020 Racial Justice Protests

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