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Voting Rights are Human Rights Mural

Art has long been recognized as a channel for social change by igniting passion and activism. Visual images touch people on deeply emotional and intuitive levels — inspiring action in ways not experienced through other media channels. 

Last fall, world-renowned, artist, activist, and entrepreneur Shepard Fairey brought his incredible talents to Milwaukee to create “Voting Rights are Human Rights” — a three-story mural in Downtown Milwaukee. The impactful work was done in collaboration with artists who have Wisconsin roots, harnessed the power of their collective creativity. PPWI Friend & Champion Patti Keating Kahn was instrumental in bringing this amazing project to Milwaukee. 

 

THE ARTISTS

Tianna Buie

An artist and educator who takes inspiration from the scant family photographs remaining from her youth and translates them into large-scale, print-based portraits and installations. The artist’s practice is intimately tied to her memories of growing up in Chicago and Milwaukee, Buie collages various elements into her prints, such as bits of clothing, jewelry, hair accessories, and other youthful adornments — adding layers and density that function as an artistic memoir on her family history. Now an accomplished interdisciplinary artist with printmaking at the forefront, Buie reclaims her past through her artwork, creating large-scale works on paper and installations that allow her to relocate a sense of home and belonging. Learn more about this artist and view her portfolio at TyannaBuie.com

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey: A world-renowned artist, known for his bold iconic style. He is perhaps best known for his Hope campaign which featured a stylized image of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Shepard Fairey supports numerous social and humanitarian causes and openly engages in controversial social and political topics through his artwork to promote awareness.  Shephard says, “Art is not always meant to be decorative or soothing, in fact, it can create uncomfortable conversations and stimulate uncomfortable emotions.” Using street art to fight for social change and politically challenge viewers reveals the defiant nature of Fairey's art. Learn more about the artist, his work, an philosophy at OBEY GIANT – The art of Shepard Faire 

Niki Johnson

An artist and activist living in Milwaukee. As a woman, Johnson is invested in creating artwork that addresses power structures, equality and identity. In the studio, she draws from a wide array of processes and materials, regularly scaffolding upon techniques when incorporating new materials into projects. Known for her political artworks and exhibitions addressing human rights, Johnson also writes and speaks on feminism’s role in her studio practice. Johnson is the artist behind Hills and Valleys (represented on the mural with the words, “We Rise” with the imagery of a female body). Johnson initially unveiled the original Hills and Valleys artwork at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s (PPWI) annual donor event in 2016. She was also recognized by PPWI’s special Voices award because of the power of the work -- created from the signs of five PPWI health centers forced to close after PPWI was defunded during the Walker administration.  Learn more about Niki Johnson at nikijohnson.com

Tom Jones

Jones’ artwork is a commentary on American Indian identity, experience and perception. He is examining how American Indian culture is represented through popular culture and raises questions about these depictions of identity by non-natives and Natives alike. He continues to work on an ongoing photographic essay on the contemporary life of his tribe, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. Jones is a co-author of the book “People of the Big Voice, Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879-1943.” He is also the co-curator for the exhibition “For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw” at the National Museum of the American Indian. His artwork is in numerous private and publicCollections. You can learn more about Jones and his work at this website

Claudio Martinez

Claudio Martinez: A graphic designer and photographer based in Milwaukee, and a member of Voces de las Artistas group, which works in collaboration with Voces de la Frontera – the leading immigrant-rights organization in Wisconsin. He is also a member of the Art Build Workers (ABW), a collaborative group of artists, educators, and photographers. ABW has worked with local teachers’ unions across the country to hold multi-day art builds, bringing together parents, students, teachers, and community members– to support and show solidarity with teacher’s demands for more resources in their schools and classrooms. When he’s not designing, Claudio is often on the streets of Milwaukee photographing everything beautiful the city has to offer– from its scenic lakefront landscapes, to the many outdoor music festivals, and to local protests challenging the current political power structures. You can visit Martinez’s photography site at claudiomke.com

Dyani White Hawk

A visual artist based in Minneapolis, who is of Sičangu Lakota and European American ancestry. Raised in both Native and urban American communities, she works to create inclusive works that draw from her life Native and non-Native life experiences. Reflecting these cross-cultural experiences in her painting and sculpture, she is also influenced by both modern abstract painting and abstract Lakota art – working sometimes only with paint on canvas, while at other times adding materials such as beads, porcupine quillwork, and buckskin. Her creative work in performance, video, and photography focuses on issues of Indigenous language, women’s rights, and the necessity of nurturing cross-cultural relationships. White Hawk seeks to encourage conversations that challenge the lack of representation of Native arts, people and voices in our national consciousness while highlighting the truth and necessity of equality and intersectionality. Learn more about her at dyaniwhitehawk.com