Road of Democracy Project Highlights Connection of Milwaukee’s Arts and Civic Life
(October 29) – Throughout October, Imagine MKE has been pleased to highlight our city’s artists’ voices as civic leaders through the Road of Democracy commissions and conversations. The work culminates with the release of three new artistic projects leading up to Election Day, and a live streamed conversation at noon on Friday, October 30.
In late September, Imagine MKE invited artists to submit a proposal for a short-term project that responded to the call: “What does democracy mean to you? How is our city contributing to the road of democracy this election season?” The project theme was 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.
Three artists – Nicole Acosta, Anna Lardinois, and Joshua Yang – were selected to receive a fee of $1500 each to design and implement their projects. This work 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. Milwaukee is one of up to ten communities to undertake cultural and creative projects that advance their communities and highlight civic pride, creativity, safety, connections, and community spirit.
Nicole Acosta’s project, “HOOPS,” will feature window installations of Acosta’s photographs of women of color at the African American Chamber of Commerce, Arts@Large, and Foiled Salon. They can be viewed beginning on Tuesday, November 3. Says Acosta on the project, ” 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.'”
Writer and storyteller Anna Lardinois’ project celebrates key women in Milwaukee history who advanced individual rights and helped pave the way to open participation in democracy – Vel Phillips; Golda Meir; Mathilde Franziska Anneke; and Oneida Women Marjorie Stevens, Marge Funmaker, and Darlene Neconish. Says Lardinois, “By looking at those who came before us, we are able to gather strength and courage to move forward.” A video featuring Lardinois’ storytelling about these women will be released on Friday, October 30, and can be viewed on this website.
Choreographer and dancer Joshua Yang is assembling a group of dancers to perform his new work “Unite.” Yang’s project will deal 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.” Yang’s dance will be presented via video, which will be released on Yang and Imagine MKE’s social platforms early next week.
All three artists will be featured panelists on a live conversation this Friday, October 30 at noon on Imagine MKE’s Facebook page. The panel will be moderated by Kennita Hickman, Imagine MKE’s Director of Artist Support and Outreach. More information can be found on the Facebook event.
This panel marks the conclusion of a month-long Road of Democracy conversation series. These creative community dialogues explored the interconnectedness of our city’s artistic and civic life. All three past conversations can be viewed on Facebook or listened to via “Imagine This Podcast” (available for download on all major podcast streaming platforms).
The first conversation, “Our Journey on the Road of Democracy,” featured panelists Representative Jonathan Brostoff, 19th Assembly District; Melody McCurtis, Metcalfe Park Community Bridges; Leana Nakielski, American Family Insurance; and Dr. Robert Smith, Marquette University. The second conversation, “Being and Supporting Citizen Artists,” featured panelists Shalina Ali, True Skool; Nailah Johnson, Leaders Igniting Transformation; Bela Suresh Roongta, artist; and Sam Rikkers, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The third conversation, “Arts as a Driver of Racial Justice and Change,” featured Miela Fetaw, 371 Productions; Anna Rose Menako, artist; Tarik Moody, 88Nine; Rosy Petri, artist; and Jamaal Smith, Office of Violence Prevention.
Imagine MKE is the connecter, convener, and amplifier of the arts and culture community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our work is rooted in the belief that arts and culture have the power to transform Milwaukee and be the catalyst for social, economic, and civic vitality. Driven by this belief, we unite within our sector and across the city around work that sustains artists and arts organizations, positions creatives at key leadership tables, and partners with others to build a thriving and inclusive city.