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Transcription of Check-out 1 on 1's: STITCH Milwaukee Community Mural Project

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ZARI  BLACKMON   JM:  What  was  your  experience  with  the  STITCH  Milwaukee  Community  Mural   Project?    What  were  the  things  you  liked  or  disliked  about  it?     ZB:  I  was  introduced  to  the  STITCH  Community  Mural  Project  by  my  mentor  Tia   Richardson.    I  had  a  lot  to  learn  about  the  significance  of  Murals  and  how  to  collaborate  to   create  a  community  where  we  feel  comfortable  to  work  together.    I  like  the  space  I  had  to   share  by  passions,  concerns,  personal  stories,  and  ideas.    I  also  enjoyed  getting  to  know   people  I  otherwise  might  have  never  met,  and  coming  together  to  create  a  mural  with  a   purpose.    It  was  a  challenge  at  some  times  because  I  had  a  lot  to  learn  and  had  to  challenge   myself  to  commit  to  weekly  meeting  times.    I  am  proud  of  the  overall  experience.     JM:  Have  you  ever  been  in  a  project  like  this,  or  similar  to  this  one?     ZB:  I  worked  at  Artist  Working  In  Education  were  I  was  able  to  work  with  other  aspiring   and  professional  artists  to  go  out  in  the  community  and  work  with  youth  to  learn  and  enjoy   different  forms  of  art,  but  I  have  never  worked  with  others  on  a  mural  which  gave  voice  to   the  community  about  the  topics  that  affected  us  the  most.    This project goes beyond just an art project because it carries so many personal stories and experiences in its message.     JM:  Did  you  have  any  expectations  for  this  project  before  coming  into  it?    If  so,  what   were  they?   ZB:  I  came  in  the  project  curious  about  exactly  how  the  project  was  going  to  unfold.    I   expected  to  start  sketching  and  painting  sooner,  but then I realized the importance of forming a community with everyone first, getting to know each other on a deeper level to be comfortable enough to share our ideas before starting on the mural. The  mural  took  a  lot  of  work  beyond  the  sketching,  painting,  and  finding  the   location.    It  embodies  the  Mural  Crew’s  emotions,  stories,  and  strength.     JM:  Would  you  say  that  this  project  impacted  you?    If  so,  in  what  ways?     ZB:  Art  was  never  introduced  to  me  as  a  way  to  voice  my  opinion  about  issues  in  the   community  that  I  face.    Instead,  it  was  looked  at  by  people  around  me  as  a  way  to  past  time,   making  things  look  pretty,  and  a  way  to  express  myself.    I  knew  that  somehow,  art  was   important  to  me  even  though  it  wasn’t  highly  valued  by  people  around  me.    This  project   inspired  me  by  proving  that  art  is  more  than  an  activity.    This  mural  addresses  important   issues  that  our  community  faces  every  day.         It  has  impacted  me  to  the  point  where  I  incorporate  art  in  any  program  I  find  space  to  do   so.    Currently,  I’m  working  with  Public  Allies  YWCA  Racial  Justice  Program,  and  

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Pathfinder’s  Garden,  and  I  plan  on  incorporating  art  as  a  form  of  activism.    The  STITCH   Mural  Project  introduced  me  to  new  ways  to  do  that.     JM:    What  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  were  in?    Do  you   think  they  changed  for  you  as  the  project  continued?     ZB:    The  North  and  South  side  of  Milwaukee  seemed  like  two  different  cities  instead  of  two   different  sides  of  the  city  to  me.    As  this  project  continued,  and  as  people  form  the  North   and  South  gathered  and  built  relationships  with  each  other  through  potlucks,  meetings,   STITCH  Open  Mics,  and  other  events,  I  saw  the  North  and  South  side  as  a  community   working  together  to  vibe  together  and  reconnect.     JM:  What  perceptions  did  you  have  before  this  project  that  may  have  changed   throughout  the  process?   ZB:    At  the  beginning,  I  was  new  to  everything,  and  was  trying  to  figure  out  the  purpose  of   the  talking  circle.    Throughout  the  first  or  second  time,     I  appreciated  the  talking  circle   because  it  allowed  people  to  be  vulnerable  and  open  about  their  experiences  living  in   Milwaukee. I also was able to draw connections and similarities with people in the circle through the stories they shared that I otherwise might have never knew.  I   was  nervous  about  how  the  painting  was  going  to  turn  out  because  I’ve  never  painted  on   such  a  large  scale  before  in  such  a  short  amount  of  time.    I  was  also  nervous  that  my   painting  skills  would  not  be  good  enough  for  the  mural  until I realized that for all of us, this was a learning experience.     JM:  What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?     ZB:  This  project  broke  down  all  of  these  divisions.    Even  though  some  of  us  came  from   different  backgrounds  and  beliefs,  we  all  built  a  community  together,  and  made  this  project   successful.  It  also  allowed  the  space  for  other  people  in  the  community  to  break  those   barriers,  and  enjoy  each  other.     JM:  Is  there  anything  else  you  would  like  to  share  about  what  you  experienced,  that   you  think  you  did  not  share?         ZB:  This  ties  into  how  this  project  has  impacted  me.    I  was  struggling  with  identifying   myself  as  an  artist  because  of  the  looks  or  judgments  I  would  receive  from  strangers,   friends,  and  family  who  had  preconceived  notions  about  artists.    This  experience  allowed   me  to  be  around  successful  artists  and  people  who  accepted  artists  without  judgment.  This   is  a  quote  that  I  heard  after  the  experience,  but  as  soon  as  I  heard  it,  I  thought  about  the   STITCH  Mural  Crew:  “Artists  Are  the  Gatekeepers  of  Truth”-­‐Harry  Belafonte      

 

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CHLOE  HERNANDEZ   JM:  What  was  your  experience  with  the  STITCH  Milwaukee  Community  Mural   Project?    What  were  the  things  you  liked  or  disliked  about  it?     CH:  I  loved  building  a  better  community  of  artists  and  activists  that  were  passionate  about   the  same  cause:  Art,  Ways  to  combat  segregation,  our  community,  and  building   relationships    

JM:  Have  you  ever  been  in  a  project  like  this,  or  similar  to  this  one?   CM:  No.   JM:  Did  you  have  any  expectations  for  this  project  before  coming  into  it?    If  so,  what   were  they?   CM:  I  didn’t  have  any  expectations  I  just  went  with  the  flow  of  things.  I  went  to  the  first   open  Mic  and  everything  formed  from  our  interest  from  there.      

JM:  Would  you  say  that  this  project  impacted  you?    If  so,  in  what  ways?   CM:  Yes,  I  was  able  to  be  part  of  a  loving  family,  and  I  learned  so  much  about  the  artists  in   our  community  and  the  people  who  are  part  of  my  community.       JM:    What  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  were  in?    Do  you   think  they  changed  for  you  as  the  project  continued?     CM:  Southside:  Hispanics,  Segregated,  Home.    Northside:  African  Americans,  Segregated,   Lived  most  of  my  school  life  on  this  side  of  town.    Yes,  my  outlook  changed  completely   because  we  were  traveling  from  side  to  side.  Although  I  visit  each  side  of  town  regularly,  it   was  a  whole  different  experience  seeming  the  “Southsiders”  come  to  the  North  side  and   still  have  an  amazing  experience  at  the  open  mics.  We  were  building  greater  relationships   each  week  by  seeing  the  same  people  in  different  environments.      

JM:  What  perceptions  did  you  have  before  this  project  that  may  have  changed   throughout  the  process?   CM:  The  talking  circle  was  my  favorite  part  because  we,  as  individuals,  could  all  share  our   own  experiences  and  stories.  I  think  they  were  powerful  because  I  was  able  to  see  different   sides  of  stories  and  how  segregation  and  issues  in  our  city  affected  others.      

  JM:  What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?  

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CM:  I  think  Stitch  did  a  great  job  at  making  everyone  in  its  family  vulnerable  and  that   makes  others  break  down  to  trust  and  respect  others.  I  think  if  our  world  went  thru  the   stitch  process,  we  would  live  in  a  greater,  happier,  &  safer  society.      

JM:  Is  there  anything  else  you  would  like  to  share  about  what  you  experienced,  that   you  think  you  did  not  share?         CM:  I  just  want  to  thank  STITCH  for  changing  lives  and  making  this  past  summer  one  that  I   will  never  forget  and  I  appreciate  every  day  and  moment  shared  with  this  family.    

    DAISY  ROMERO   JM:  What  was  your  experience  with  the  STITCH  Milwaukee  Community  Mural   Project?    What  were  the  things  you  liked  or  disliked  about  it?     DR:  My  overall  experience  with  the  Stitch  Milwaukee  Community  mural  project  was  an  eye   opening  and  therapeutic  experience,  an  experience  that  I’m  still  trying  to  understand.  To   me  the  community  mural  project  was  a  healing  and  strengthening  experience.  One  of  the   things  I  liked  was  the  talking  circles.  I  liked  the  talking  circles  because  I  was  able  to  relate   to  the  other  members.  This  made  me  feel  connected  and  comfortable  enough  to  share  my   own  experiences.  I  more  than  liked  the  art  process  in  the  creation  of  the  mural.  I  enjoyed   getting  to  know  the  others  mural  members  and  learning  how  to  get  my  hands  dirty  again.   The  silence  we  experienced  every  now  and  then  during  the  painting  process  was  stress   relieving  and  helped  calmed  me  down  if  I  was  having  a  stressful  day.    I  found  both  of  these   things  extremely  therapeutic  and  healing.  One  of  the  things  I  disliked  was  that  at  times   there  may  have  been  a  lack  of  communication  and  this  may  have  led  to  some  people   misinterpreting  situations.  Over  all  I  felt  like  the  mural  project  helped  me  grow  in  my   community  and  helped  guide  me  to  my  overall  life  goal.  I  took  the  mural  as  a  powerful   personal  message  directed  to  me  as  well  as  our  whole  Milwaukee  community.     JM:  Have  you  ever  been  in  a  project  like  this,  or  similar  to  this  one?   DR:  I  have  never  been  involved  in  a  mural  project  like  this  before.  I  haven’t  been  involved   in  a  project  similar  to  this  either.  I  have  helped  out  in  the  community  by  spreading   awareness  as  a  community  organizer  but  this  mural  project  was  completely  different   because  I  did  some  work  within  myself  and  art  became  my  new  form  of  expression  and   spreading  awareness.    

JM:  Did  you  have  any  expectations  for  this  project  before  coming  into  it?    If  so,  what   were  they?  

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DR:  I  honestly  did  not  have  any  expectations  for  this  project  before  coming  into  it.  It  was   actually  a  coincidence  I  got  involved  with  the  mural.  I  was  never  a  part  of  Stitch  and  I  had   never  attended  any  of  the  Open  Mic’s.  However,  when  I  heard  about  the  mural  project  I   became  more  interested.    I  just  knew  I  wanted  to  help  create  something  and  be  part  of  the   mural  project  process.  I  looked  as  the  mural  project  as  an  escape  from  everything  else  that   was  going  on  in  my  life.  I  looked  at  the  mural  project  as  a  stress  reliever  once  we  started   the  process.  At  first  I  was  however  a  bit  intimidated,  skeptical  and  scared  with  meeting  new   faces  and  interacting  with  unfamiliar  people.  Of  course  that  all  changed  by  the  end  of  the   mural  project!    

JM:  Would  you  say  that  this  project  impacted  you?    If  so,  in  what  ways?   DR:  I  would  definitely  say  this  project  impacted  me  in  more  than  a  couple  ways.  It  impacted   me  emotionally  and  mentally  and  I  think  it  is  still  currently  impacting  me.    I  met  new   people,  started  drawing  and  writing  again.  I  came  out  from  a  deep  depression  and  started   living  again.  I  made  new  friendships  and  connections  that  opened  doors  for  me.  I  became   fearless  of  who  I  was,  learned  to  accept  myself.  These  are  the  ways  it  has  impacted  me.     JM:    What  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  were  in?    Do  you   think  they  changed  for  you  as  the  project  continued?     DR:  I  honestly  didn’t  have  a  bad  or  good  perception  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city.    I  suppose   you  can  say  knowing  Milwaukee  was  America’s  #1  most  segregated  city  was  a  perception   that  I  had  in  mind  and  had  experienced.  I  grew  up  in  New  York  City  where  on  my  side  of  the   city  it  wasn’t  rare  to  live  in  a  city  or  street  with  different  types  of  cultures,  smells  or   different  languages.  My  high  school  setting  didn’t  help  erase  the  perception  either.  I   suppose  I  didn’t  know  each  side  of  Milwaukee  that  well  either  since  the  school  I  attended   was  in  the  inner  city  area  of  Milwaukee.  Even  with  attending  an  inner  city  school  I  thought   the  teenagers  would  at  least  be  more  integrated  but  I  noticed  how  the  Hispanic  girls   separated  themselves  from  the  African  American  girls.  Therefore  for  the  mural  project  I   just  took  each  side  of  the  city  as  it  was.    Even  though  I  lived  on  the  South  Side  of  Milwaukee   I  still  wasn’t  very  familiar  with  my  own  side  of  town  or  streets,  However  throughout  the   mural  project  I  became  a  little  more  familiar  with  each  surrounding  area  in  which  the  open   Mics  and  Mural  project  meet  ups  took  place.    I also became more curious as to why Milwaukee was such a segregated city. I figured Milwaukee must have some history and in that history answers could be found.    I  moved  here  from  a  more   populated  city.  I  never  experienced  segregation  like  the  segregation  I  experienced  in   Milwaukee  before.  I  can  say  the  mural  project  helped  me  feel  hopeful  that  Milwaukee  will   one  day  be  a  more  harmonious  and  integrated  city  just  like  my  home  block  in  NY,  where   interracial  couples  or  families  wouldn’t  be  frowned  upon  in  any  side  of  town  and  where  it   wouldn’t  be  a  shock  seeing  an  Hispanic  on  the  North  Side  of  town  or  vice  versa.  I  suppose   6


you  can  say  that  the  mural  project  erased  my  perception  of  Milwaukee  continuing  to  be  the   number  one  most  segregated  city  in  the  United  States  and  instead  helped  me  shape  my   vision  of  Milwaukee  one  day  being  the  most  multicultural  place  in  the  world.    

JM:  What  perceptions  did  you  have  before  this  project  that  may  have  changed   throughout  the  process?   DR:  I  had  several  perceptions  before  this  project  that  did  change  throughout  the  process.  I   felt  a  bit  intimidated  about  painting  and  speaking  in  talking  circle.  However,  throughout  the   painting  process  I  became  interested  in  art,  I  became  more  in  tune  with  my  inner  child  and   one  of  my  passions  as  a  child  which  was  painting,  drawing  and  creating  art.  I  started  to   want  to  paint  again  and  get  more  involved.  The  mural  crew  was  extremely  helpful  with   this;  they  made  me  feel  comfortable  enough  to  get  messy  and  make  mistakes  during  the   painting  process.  It  reminded  me  of  my  first  art  class  when  the  art  teacher  told  us  there   was  no  mistakes  in  art  and  that  erasers  weren’t  needed.    I  suppose  you  can  say  before  the   project  I  felt  inadequate  to  paint  on  the  mural,  I  felt  I  was  too  shy  to  say  anything  and  be   part  of  the  whole  process  but  my  curiosity  pushed  me  to  want  to  be  a  part  of  the  painting  of   the  mural  as  well  as  the  talking  circles.  The  talking  circles  were  intimidating  as  well.  It  was   a  bit  weird  and  slightly  uncomfortable  trying  to  share  my  experiences  or  thoughts  with   people  I  didn’t  know  so  well,  and  when  some  people  used  big  words  I  felt  a  little  out  of  pave   and  almost  embarrassed  to  say  anything.  However  when  others  shared  stories  and   experiences  I  could  relate  to  I  became  more  comfortable  and  opened  up.  The  whole  mural   team  made  it  easier  for  me  to  open  up  and  share.  I  honestly  think  if  it  were  other  people  I   don’t  think  it  would  have  been  as  easy  to  open  up.  The  whole  atmosphere  that  they  all   created  was  comforting.       JM:  What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?     DR:  I  can  definitely  agree  in  that  this  project  broke  down  all  these  divisions.  No  one  person   was  exact  to  another,  some  of  us  shared  similar  interests  and  likes  but  we  were  all  of   different  race,  gender  and  age.  We  all  came  from  different  parts  of  town  and  from  different   backgrounds.  Some  were  artists  who  did  art  for  a  living  while  others  weren’t  artists  at  all   and  never  been  involved  with  murals  just  like  myself.  Some  of  us  also  required  more  space   and  had  to  learn  how  to  respectfully  share  our  space  with  others  during  the  project.  It  was   hard  for  me  to  express  myself  in  talking  circles  at  times  and  even  now  it  is  but  I  found  I  had   to  learn  how  to  do  so  when  working  with  others.  I  as  well  had  to  learn  how  to  accept  others   space  and  understand  where  they  came  from.    I  personally  would  say  that  it  broke  an  ego,   pride  and  age  barrier.  I  had  to  learn  how  to  respect  other  people’s  opinions  even  if  I  didn’t   completely  agree  with  them.  I  learned  to  practice  patience  and  understanding  of  myself  and   the  one’s  around  me.  I  had  to  accept  and  am  still  trying  to  accept  that  it’s  not  all  about  me,   it’s  about  every  one;  this  is  where  my  pride  and  ego  barrier  started  to  break  down.  I   learned  to  be  more  selfless  when  I  started  to  hear  other’s  people’s  stories  and  perspectives   because  I  saw  the  other  side  of  my  perspective  or  better  yet  the  other  side  of  what  I  looked  

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as  unacceptable,  For  example  I  had  a  problem  with  people  who  were  prejudice  and  looked   down  upon  them,  even  felt  resentment.  I  can  honestly  say  this  project  helped  me  try  to   better  understand  those  around  me  and  let  go  of  some  of  that  resentment.     JM:  Is  there  anything  else  you  would  like  to  share  about  what  you  experienced,  that   you  think  you  did  not  share?         DR:  I  learned  I  can  communicate  through  art  and  I  learned  it  can  be  a  powerful  tool  to   express  a  message  or  even  a  story.  I  learned  an  image  can  be  way  more  powerful  than   words  sometimes.  I  found  a  part  of  my  voice  during  the  process  of  the  mural  project.  I  feel   like  I’m  still  evolving  as  an  individual  but  this  mural  was  the  beginning  of  a  powerful   movement  not  just  for  Milwaukee  but  for  anyone  who  is  already  part  of  this  art,  where  our   history’s  truth  and  stories  can  be  told  through  art,  making  us  realize  we  are  more   connected  than  we  may  think  we  are.        

LINDA  SERNA   JM:  Share  with  us  about  your  experience  within  this  project…how  has  this  project/process   been  for  you?  What  things  did  you  like,  dislike,  and  feel  strongly  about?    

LS:  My  experience  in  this  project  is,  I  think  I  am  one  of  the  more  fortunate  ones  in  the  mural   crew,  because  I  was  also  part  of  the  organizing  of  the  project  itself,  so  I  was  a  part  of  the   process  of  just  the  conversation  when  it  was  just  an  idea  of  why  this  small  group  of  people   that  really  felt  strongly  pursuing  this  project,  having  conversations  about  what’s  missing  in   our  city,  and  what  can  be  really  powerful,  and  transforming  in  our  city.  So  I  was  a  part  of   that  phase.  I  was  a  part  of  that  phase  of  having  that  idea  of  having  a  mural  in  Milwaukee,   and  I  think  that  that's  I  feel  really  strongly  connected  about  it  because,  I  was  part  of  the   group  that  gave  birth  just  to  the  idea.  That’s  why  I  say  that  I  feel  very  fortunate  in  the  mural   crew  because  I  got  to  be  a  part  of  that  too.  And  kind  of  see  the  project  being  born,  and  grow   up.    I  feel  really  good  about  how  the  process  was  approached  you  know?  It  was  very,  I  felt   like  the  facilitators  were  always  very  humble.  And  I  always  felt  like  everyone  was  on  level   in  terms  of  our  roles  in  the  actual  project.  And  that’s  really  a  big  part  of  something  that  I  am   going  to  feel  connected  to.  I  don't  really  want  to  be  involved  in  something  where  someone   has  more  power  over  someone  else,  and  I  think  the  facilitators  always  really  intentionally   made  that  happen.  Where  everyone  was  always  side-­‐by-­‐side.      

JM:  Why  is  that  something  that  is  important  to  you?      

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LS:  Because  that’s  how  you  community  build.  You  don't  do  something  because  someone  is   telling  you;  you  do  it  because  you  believe  it.  And  if  I'm  working  side  by  side  with  someone,   we're  doing  something  together  we're  not  doing  something  because  we're  being  told  to  do   it,  or  how  to  do  it.  And  I  never  felt  that  in  this  project.  No  one  was  ever  told  to  do  things.  It   was  a  long  process  because  that’s  how  long  it  took  the  group  to  decide  how  we  were  going   to  do  it  together.  It  wasn't  like…nothing  was  ever  prescribed.  Nothing  was  every  already   decided  before  the  group  met.  It  was  always  when  the  group  was  together  that  everything   was  talked  about.  And  I  could  see  that  being  very  challenging  as  a  facilitator.  Like  how  to  do   that,  but  the  facilitators  really…  so  that  was  what  was  really  beautiful  about  the  process   too.  The  way  it  was  facilitated  so  that  everyone  had  a  voice.  And  the  talking  circle  process   played  a  big  role  in  that  too.  That  everyone  had  the  same  opportunities  to  talk.  You  were   allowed  to  talk,  as  much  or  as  little  as  you  wanted  to  talk  when  it  was  your  time  to  talk.  And   even  though  sometimes  I  struggled  with  it  because  I  wanted  to  have  a  more  natural  flowing   conversation  you  know?  Like  if  I  said  something  and  someone  felt  it,  or  maybe  had   questions…the  talking  circle  didn't  really  foster  that  flow…but  it  did  serve  another  purpose   which  was  allowing  everyone  to  have  a  voice.  And  so,  the process was very beautiful.   Towards  the  end  I  wasn't  as  actively  involved  in  the  painting,  but  that  doesn't  make  me  feel   like  when  I  see  the  mural,  that  I  can't  say  I  wasn't  a  part  of  it,  because  I  was.  Everything  that   had  to  brew  before  the  painting  happened.  That  was  75%  or  80%  of  everything,  was  the   process  and  not  the  product  that  really  is  the  mural.    

JM:  Have  you  ever  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this?      

LS:  A  similar  process  would  be  just  the  way  that  the  STITCH  organizing  crew  works  is  very   similar  to  the  process  of  the  mural  project.  Like  when  we  meet  to  organize  for  the  mural  or   the  open  mic  it  always  feels  the  same.  It  always  feels  like  everyone  has  a  space  to  talk,  no   one  is  more  than  anyone  else.  So,  in  that  sense  I  feel  like,  yes  I  have  been  involved  in   another  project  similar  to  this  process.      

JM:  What  were  your  expectations  for  this  project?      

LS:  I  just  expected  it  to  be  transforming.  How  could  it  not?  When  you're  opening  up  the   project  community  wide.  To  the  extent  where  there  was  a  video  that  didn't  just  serve  the   purpose  of  raising  funds,  but  to  let  people  know  that  this  is  the  project,  and  like  we  want   everyone  who  believes  in  it  to  be  involved.  That  it  wasn't  held  behind  closed  doors.  So  just   to  think  about  that  this  mural  project  was  taking  such  a  different  approach  to  painting  a   mural.  Like  I  knew  it  was  going  to  be  transforming.  Not  just  reaching  out  to  a  bunch  of   people,  but  that  there  was  not  going  to  be  any  lead  artists.  That  the  people  whether  they   had  experience  or  not,  whether  they  identified  as  artists  or  not,  were  going  to  be  creating   this  mural  project  together.  And  not  just  talking  about  "oh  what’s  the  mural  going  to  look   9


like"  but  relationship  building  amongst  each  other  and  then  talking  about  really  deep  heavy   stuff.  And  sometimes  painful  stories.  Those  were  my  expectations  transformation.        

JM:  would  you  say  that  this  project  has  impacted  you?  &  if  so  in  what  ways?      

LS:  Yes.  A  lot.  One  of  the  biggest  ways  that  it  has  impacted  me  is,  knowing  that  you  can   really  make  something  happen.  It  may  seem  like;  maybe  in  another  city  "okay,  a  mural"  but   in  our  city,  that’s  like,  "what?"  they  don't  pop  up  every  day,  they  don't  pop  up  every  year.   And  for  it  to  come  up  by  a  bunch  of  people  that  have  never  painted  a  mural.  That  one,  have   no  institution  backing  them  up,  like  I  assume  most  murals  do,  funded  by  a  grant  or  some   neighborhood  association…it  was  completely  grassroots  from  the  ground  up.  To  see  that   happen  its  like  DAMN  if  that  happened,  what  else  can  we  do?  That’s  really  impacting  to   experience  that.  That’s  really  transforming  the  skies  the  limit.  When  you  see  something  like   that,  that  seems  so  difficult  to  do  in  Milwaukee,  and  especially  when  you  hear  from  people   that  have  been  doing  murals,  there  is  a  history  why  our  cities  walls  aren't  painted.  It  is   because  there  are  all  of  these  policies  against  it,  all  of  these  politicians  that  make  it  really   difficult.  And  we're  still  going  to  do  it.  That’s  dope.      

JM:  What  do  you  think  that  says  about  the  people?    

LS:    That  they're  pretty  dope.    That  there  not  bound  by  these  limitations  that  everyone  tries   to  feed  into.  That  we're  still  going  to  do  it.  That’s  not  going  to  stop  us.  And  also  there’s  a   reason  why  our  mural  is  painted  on  panels.  Because,  we  know,  that  some  murals  get   painted  over.  So  we're  trying  to  think,  how  are  we  going  to  get  around  this  person?  We’re   going  to  figure  out  a  way  by  any  means  necessary      

JM:  What  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  worked  in,  &  do   you  think  that  they  changed?      

LS:  I  feel  like  I've  been  instilled  this  fear  about  the  north  side,  ever  since  I  was  really  young.   The  media  has  a  lot  to  do  with  it.  My  family  has  a  lot  to  do  with  it.  But  i  think  the  media  is   what  has  instilled  fear  in  my  family.  So  I  think  that  the  media  is  the  big  monster  that  makes   you  fear  the  north  side,  me  as  someone  from  the  south  side.  Because  I  never  go  over  there,   so  I  can't  find  out  for  myself  if  that’s  true  or  not.  But  even  though  I  know  what’s  on  the   media  is  BS,  todavia  siento  like  I  don't  really  know  this  place.  One  I  don't  know  it   geographically,  I  don't  know  my  streets  over  there.  I  get  lost  a  lot.  But  also  too,  like  when  I   go  over  there  I  kinda  stick  out  too  you  know?  And  so  people,  and  mostly  I  get  this  from  the   men  over  there.  So  its  double  layered.  One  because  I'm  brown,  because  I'm  not  black  I   stand  out.  And  now  I'm  a  brown  women,  so  then  the  males  on  the  north  side,  you  feel   like…shit…they  make  you  feel  really  uncomfortable  on  the  north  side…there  just  looking  at  

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me,  cat  calling.    I  had  never  been  to  Sweet  Black  Coffee  until  I  had  to,  and  that  very  first  time   I  was  really  thirsty  and  I  didn't  want  to  walk  out  by  myself  to  go  see  if  there  was  a  corner   store.  'Cause  I  didn't  know  the  place  you  know?  Tambien  I  have  to  have  street  smarts,  and   not  just  be  like,  I’m  thirsty,  and  I  don't  care.  I'm  brave.    If  I  really  do  deep  down  feel   something,  then  I  shouldn't  go  out  by  myself.  So  yeah  there’s  a  little  bit  of  uncertainty,  and   maybe  fear  sometimes  of  the  north  side       JM:  Do  you  feel  like  they  changed  then?       LS:  I  mean,  at  least  around  Sweet  Black  Coffee,  I  felt  more  comfortable  you  know?  And  it   was  because  we  would  go  every  other  week.  And  I  think  people  would  see  a  group  of  us  out   there.    So  it  was  like,  that  made  me  feel  more  comfortable.    Like  it  was  a  space  where  I  felt   comfortable,  that  I  trusted.    The  more  that  I  was  there;  it  did  change  those  feelings  of   uncertainty,  at  least  for  that  particular  area.       JM:    Did  the  actual  physical  locations  where  the  sessions  were  hosted  impact  you?     LS:  Especially  a  tattoo  shop  because  it's  not  a  place  where  you  come  to  hang  out.    The  guys   when  you  first  meet  them,  they  have  a  rough  shell  on  the  outside.    I’ve  gotten  to  know  a   really  welcoming  side  of  them,  and  that’s  because  they've  created  that.         JM:  What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?       LS:  I  think  one  thing  that  I  experienced  that  I  feel  like  I  haven't  really  experienced  it,  to  the   extent  that  I  did  here,  was  having  real  honest  conversations  between  black  and  brown   experiences  of  racism.  And  I  think  particularly  more  coming  from  the  brown  people  being   really  honest  about  how  their  parents,  our  community  either  prejudges,  or  oppresses  the   black  community.  I  think  that  was  the  first  time,  at  least  with  a  group  of  people  that  are  not   close  friends.  And  it  was  multiple  people  that  felt  comfortable  to  be  honest,  and  a  lot  of   people  were  sharing  it  more  on  their  family,  this  is  how  it  is,  this  is  how  it  was  growing  up.     This  is  how  it  was  having  black  friends  and  my  parents  reactions  to  it,  or  growing  up  on  the   south  side,  and  having  new  neighbors  that  were  black  and  them  integrating  into  our   community.  Either  my  family  or  my  communities’  reaction  to  that.    I  don't  what  that  did,   but  at  least  people  were  able  to  say  those  things  honestly.  And  maybe  to  add  to  the   conversation  how  complex  racial  dynamics  are  in  our  city,  and  how  much  segregation  has   impacted  those  dynamics.    You  know  Milwaukee  is  not  the  only  city  where  there  is  conflict   between  black  and  brown  communities,  but  like  here  it’s  because  of  segregation  its  even   more.  I  remember  talking  about  this  in  one  of  the  sessions;  okay  what’s  the  solution  to   segregation?  Intergration  right?  There's  more  to  solving  segregation  than  mixing  people   11


together.    There  has  to  be  all  this  building  that  has  to  start.    And  then  you  realize  how  much   work  has  to  be  done  in  Milwaukee.  That's  why  stuff  like  this  is  so  important.  That  there  are   these  projects  that  are  hitting  at  that.  That  we  are  trying  to  chip  at  it  (the  problem)  in  some   sort  of  way,  because  the  obvious  solution  is  integration  is  not.    There  has  to  be  all  of  this   community-­‐building  happening.     JM:  Do  you  remember  how  that  conversation/dialogue  went  in  the  circle?       LS:  Well  it  wasn't  really  a  dialogue,  because  in  the  talking  circle  people  were  just  sharing   their  experiences.  It  was  with  the  question,  how  has  Milwaukee  betrayed  you?  And  Daisy   shared  about  growing  up  in  New  York  and  because  of  where  she  grew  up,  that  affects  what   background  your  friends  are.    She  spoke  on  her  dad’s  reaction  to  that,  and  then  I  spoke  on   just  segregation,  because  that  is  how  Milwaukee  has  betrayed  me.  And  how  there's  a  lot  of   people  in  my  community,  and  in  my  family  that  we  grow  up  with  [the  idea]  that  the  darker   you  are,  the  worse  person  you  are…this  comes  from  colonization  because  it  didn't  have  to   take  my  family  coming  to  Milwaukee  to  start  saying  that…but  here  its  like  we  already  come   with  that,  and  then  we  are  not  used  to  living  with  people  that  are  darker  than  us…and  then   we  see  all  the  [things]  in  the  news  about  them,  then  it  just  confirms  what  I  have  always   believed.         JM:  Could  you  speak  about  gender,  and  what  that  brought  up  for  you     LS:  We  were  mostly  made  up  of  women,  and  one  of  the  most  intense  moments  in  the   process  was  when  there  was  resistance  from  the  males  to  have  so  many,  what  they   perceived  as  feminine  representations.  And  it  was  so  intense…The  most  intense  moment  in   the  process  was  when  the  minority  gender,  which  was  the  males,  were  resisting  what  they   perceived  as  too  much  feminine  representation  on  the  sketches  that  were  going  to  become   the  mural,  and  it  was  so  intense  to  the  point  that  it  was  emotionally  draining  how  intense  it   was.  How  intense  their  resistance  was  to  what  the  group  had  come  up  with.  And  there  was   another  side  to  it,  some  of  them  had  not  been  present  every  single  time.       JM:  What  do  you  feel  came  from  that?     LS:  One  guy  dropped  out.    Even  though  we  didn't  have  a  discussion  with  the  males  in  there,   maybe  he  just  felt  like  that  wasn't  the  space  for  him.    One  of  the  facilitators  had  the   opportunity  to  talk  to  one  of  the  other  males  and  have  an  honest  conversation  about  how   he  had  made  people  feel  and  I  want  to  say  that  it  was  transforming  for  him,  because  he   came  back.  And  he  did  say  something  (yesterday,  which  was  our  closing  session)  that  he   was  planning  on  not  coming  back,  especially  after  that  conversation  with  Tia.  But  he  didn't,   so  I  feel  like  he  found  value  in  something  that  was  happening  that  made  him  still  want  to  be   12


a  part  of  it.  And  then  for  the  women  I  feel  like  it  happened  organically.  Some  of  us  that  were   feeling  it  more,  we  stayed  after  for  that  particular  session  that  was  really  intense.  And  we   tried  to  break  down  what  had  happened.  Tried  to  understand  what  was  going  through  both   of  those  men’s  heads.    What  were  they  so  in  conflict  with?  And  we  just  needed  to   desahogarnos,  and  we  needed  to  heal  from  that.  And  I  think  talking  about  it  and  processing   together  is  what  we  needed.  It  was  so  intense  how  some  of  us  were  feeling.       JM:  Do  you  remember  your  exact  emotions?       LS:  I  remember  feeling  really  frustrated.  I  was  frustrated  at  their  body  language.       JM:  What  did  their  body  language  tell  you?       LS:  No  connection,  and  it  was  so  judgmental.  These  looks,  and  constant  whispering  back  &   forth  to  each  other.  Laughing.  I  felt  really  disrespected.    And  so  that  brought  some  anger   too.  This  dynamic  had  never  been  present  in  this  circle,  and  you  feel  so  comfortable  to  be   disrespectful.    That's  just  crazy.  But  also  I  was  thinking,  you  also  haven't  been  here  every   time,  so  maybe  that’s  why  you  don't  understand  the  dynamic  we  have  created  together,  so   that  made  me  more  mad,  like  how  dare  you,  come  in  and  mess  with  what  we  have  built.     JM:  What  would  you  say  you  feel  now?  Do  you  think  there  was  transformation   throughout  the  rest  of  the  process?       LS:  Yeah.  And  I  think  that  it  was  because  the  women  were  able  to  talk  about  it  and  then  I   remember  it  was  easier  to  call  it  out  when  it  happened  again.  And  not  feel  so  frustrated.   Taking  it  a  little  more  lightly,  but  calling  it  out,  like  when  it  happened.  It  did  open  up  that   space  for  calling  out  disrespectfulness  or  being  misinterpreted,  and  I  think  that  also  the  one   male  that  did  stay,  I  think  that  he  also  took  a  step  back  and  became  more  aware  about  what   he  was  doing.            

TIA  RICHARDSON   JM:  What  was  your  experience  with  the  STITCH  Milwaukee  Community  Mural   Project?    What  were  the  things  you  liked  or  disliked  about  it?    

TR:    It's  been  really  humbling  for  me,  because  I'm  used  to  working  in  a  certain  way  in   projects  like  individual  artists  the  way  that  I  approach  my  own  work  is  very  specific,  so  I'm   used  to  having  my  own  process,  and  the  way  that  I  do  things,  and  its  been  that  way  for  a   13


long  time.  So  it’s  solely  been  in  the  last  two  years  that  I've  started  to  be  more  collaborative   in  my  process,  and  realizing  that  that’s  important  and  necessary  and  needed.  And  I  felt  like   this  was  an  opportunity  to  dig  into  that  collaborative  effort.    So  using  the  talking  circles  has   been  eye  opening  and  I  knew  it  would  be  meaningful,  but  to  actually  experience  the  way  it   affected  people,  and  the  way  it  really  shaped  things,  and  opened  up  things,  it  was  probably   the  most  impactful  for  me  in  this  whole  process.    I  just  got  a  first  hand  account  on  what   sacred  spaces  can  do  for  people  working  together.       JM:  What  things  did  you  like  or  dislike?     TR:    What  worked,  was  the  ritual  of  doing  the  same  thing  every  day,  the  ritual  of  bringing   the  people  together,  gathering  in  a  circle  having  the  sacred  fire  in  the  middle,  asking   questions,  respecting  the  talking  piece,  laying  down  the  group  rules,  asking  the  group  to   support  themselves,  so  it  wouldn't  be  on  just  me  or  Jeanette  to  hold  that.    That  worked,   people  were  right  on  point  with  that,  and  everyone  was  in  agreement  with  that.    It  was  kind   of  surprised;  there  wasn't  a  whole  kind  of  resistance  to  that,  so  that  really  worked.    What   came  out  of  that  was  just  a  really  fluid  way  of  everyone  being  able  to  share  their  stories   from  heart  and  everyone  being  able  to  hold  the  space  for  those  stories  to  emerge  in   whatever  way  they  needed  to,  and  take  shape  in  whatever  way  they  needed  to,  so  that  this   could  happen.    I  don't  think  nothing  didn't  work,  I  think  there  were  some  challenges  that   we  faced  were  the  actual  spaces  we  were  working  in,  and  making  sure  we  had  space  to   paint.  Finding  a  space  to  paint  the  mural.  All  the  communication  we  had  to  do  with  people   that  own  these  spaces,  making  sure  everybody’s  schedules  lined  up  and  worked  together   on  certain  days.      

JM:  Have  you  ever  been  in  a  project  like  this,  or  similar  to  this  one?   TR:    Yes  I  have,  similarities  was  that  everyone  was  the  same,  except  the  age  group  for  the   other  project  I  worked  on  was  teenagers,  and  I  didn't  have  a  co-­‐facilitator.  I  had  two   assistants  who  kind  of  functioned  like  that,  but  they  weren't  holding  the  same  kind  of   leadership  role  as  you  &  I  were.  How  it  was  different  was  that  program  was  a  lot  more   structured.  It  was  80hrs  total,  over  8  weeks,  and  we  ended  up  putting…for  that  program  it   felt  like  it  was  a  lot  more  focused,  intensive,  because  the  students  were  coming  knowing   that  they  were  going  to  be  getting  job  skill  (07:51),  there  were  expectations  and  it  was   treated  like  a  job  so  I  had  hired  them,  interviewed  them  and  then  they  were  getting  paid  to   be  there.  So  there  was  accountability  there  in  different  context  that  wasn't  here.  It  was   different  structurally  that  way,  and  that  was  about  it.  All  of  the  building,  creating  that  felt   the  same.     JM:  Did  you  have  any  expectations  for  this  project  before  coming  into  it?    If  so,  what  

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were  they?   TR:  My  expectations  were  that  we  were  going  to  get  down  and  dirty  and  have  this  really   intensive  session  of  talking  and  sharing,  and  creating  holy  sacred  space  with  each  other,   and  sharing  stories,  and  getting  messy  but  knowing  how  to  handle  that  mess.    And  being   real,  and  raw,  and  organic  and  that  somehow  something  beautiful  would  happen,  and  we   would  all  love  it,  and  everyone  would  feel  ownership  of  it…and  that’s  what  happened...    

JM:  Would  you  say  that  this  project  impacted  you?    If  so,  in  what  ways?   TR:  It  has  given  me  more  confidence  because  now  I  have  a  tool,  now  I  know  this  works.   This  has  been  done  twice  for  me  in  my  life,  and  each  time  look  at  what  happened.    Now  I   have  a  tangible  tool  and  I  can  use  in  my  work  in  the  future,  which  I  know  is  effective.  It  has   also  been  humbling  because  I'm  taking  myself  out  of  this  process  as  an  artist,  you  know   using  my  own  eye,  and  hands  on  everything.  I'm  letting  the  group  handle  a  lot  of  those   decisions,  and  I'm  only  a  guide,  I'm  kind  of  on  the  outside  stepping  back.  I'm  not  working   with  it  in  the  same  way  as  i  have  with  my  personal  pieces,  so  that’s  been  an  adaptation  that   I  don't  mind.    It  takes  the  pressure  off  of  that.  Its  making  me  stronger,  and  its  making  me   feel  like  I  have  more  to  give  to  my  community  as  an  artist  that  I  did  before.     JM:    What  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  were  in?    Do  you   think  they  changed  for  you  as  the  project  continued?     TR:  The  thing  that  has  changed  is  how  I'm  not  just  seeing  the  south  side  as  not  just  this   image  anymore.    I  have  a  real  tangible  experience.  There  is  this  community  that  has  been   built  in  the  back  of  the  tattoo  shop.  And  they  come  in  and  they  want  to  help  they  have   questions,  they're  very  interested.    I'm  getting  to  know  the  own  people  of  the  south  side,   even  my  own  neighbors…  it's  become  more  humanized…as  Milwaukee  in  general  this   project  has  reshaped  my  experience  of  who  Milwaukee  is,  because  the  people  that  have   come  together  from  this  project  have  ended  up  opening  themselves  up  to  each  other,   including  me,  its  showed  me  what  is  happening  on  the  inside.    These  people  are  actually   making  themselves  vulnerable  to  create  something  that  requires  being  vulnerable  is  hard.   And  it  can  be  scary,  so  when  I  think  of  the  way  I  used  to  think  of  Milwaukee  growing  up,  it   was  very  hard.  a  hard  exterior.  Certain  people  in  certain  neighborhoods  had  a  hard   exterior,  I  would  look  at  those  types  of  people  and  not  want  to  interact  with  the.  Or  feel  like   there  was  nothing  there  for  me  to  deal  with…why  should  go  there?  This  project  has  made   me  see  that  what  is  human,  what  makes  us  human,  what  makes  us  humanly  possible,  what   is  necessary…    

JM:  What  perceptions  did  you  have  before  this  project  that  may  have  changed   throughout  the  process?    

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TR:  I  had  a  fear  that  people  wouldn't  be  as  receptive.  Something  in  me  thought  that  maybe   there  would  be  some  adults  that  would  be  resistant  to  the  process,  the  method  we  used   with  the  talking  circle.  Like  I  had  a  feeling  that  maybe  might  think  that’s  dumb,  or  bogus.  I   had  a  preconceived  notion  that  people  might  not  be  okay  with  that.  And  that  didn't  end  up   being  the  case  so  I  was  pleasantly  surprised.    It  has  changed  my  perspective  on  people’s   awareness,  or  being  respectful  to  things  that  are  sacred,  spaces  that  they're  not  familiar   with.    Why  do  we  have  a  candle  in  the  middle?  I  was  surprised  at  how  nobody  questioned,  it   just  seemed  like  it  made  sense  to  people.  Like  the  way  we  were  doing  it  made  sense.  People   found  value  in  it.  And  that  surprised  me.       JM:  Do  you  think  everyone  did?     TR:    I  think  some  people  had  questions  it  didn't  get  in  the  way,  there  was  one  person  that   didn't  stay  with  us,  who  had  some  resistance,  but  he  didn't  stay  with  us  and  part  of  the   nature  of  it  is  that  if  its  held  right,  then  all  that  stuff  will  come  up,  and  it  provides  a  space   for  the  group  to  be  the  way  that  it  needs  to  be,  so  if  there’s  safety  in  it  for  everyone  if  its   held  properly.  If  somebody  doesn't  feel  right  being  there,  then  they'll  just  disappear.  Expect   that  to  be  expected.  That’s  what  the  circle  cultivates.  It  cultivates  anything  that  is  in  the   group,  its  going  to  show  up,  if  anybody  that  stayed,  and  stuck  around,  and  they  had  issues   with  it,  it  would  have  come  up,  and  in  a  way  where  to  the  point  where  it  needed  to  be   disruptive.  That  would  have  come  up.  It  just  would  have.    That’s  why  I  say  that  I  feel  like  it   worked  enough  for  everybody  so  that  didn't  come  up.  I  think  it  came  up  in  the  way  that  it   did  for  someone,  but  they  left,  and  that  needed  to  happen.    There  were  opportunities.  That   is  what  check-­‐ins  were  for.  It  felt  like  everyone  was  honest….  to  answer.     JM:  What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?       TR:  Yeah,  my  own  perceptions  of  people.    There’s  young  people  and  look  at,  and  based  on   what  they  say  or  how  they  act  I  might  feel  like  they  aren't  conscious,  or  aware  of  certain   things,  they  sound  immature,  and  even  some  adults,  I  look  at  and  I  feel  that  way.  This  whole   project  constantly  reminded  me,  and  showed  me  how  I  can't  judge  people  based  on  one   moment  in  time.  Because  this  took  us  through  a  process  of  opening  up  to  each  other,  so  that   it  makes  me  see  more  of  the  person,  than  a  small  part  of  the  person.  It  just  makes  me  more   compassionate  and  that’s  going  to  affect  the  work  that  I  do  in  the  world,  and  in  the   community.     JM:  Could  you  speak  specifically  to  any  of  these  divisions  of  race,  ethnicity?     16


TR:    There  was  one  specific  person  whose  white,  and  who  kept  triggering  me,  because  I  felt   like  she  took  up  a  lot  of  space  during  the  process.  Which  tends  to  happen.  And  I  felt  like   there  was  a  fine  line  where  she  should  have  monitored  herself  on  that.    It’s  just  given  space   to  confront  things  about  race  a  lot  more  in  this  process.  Certain  people  taking  up  space.   How  are  we  going  to  address  that  without  holding  the  conversation  solely  about  race  now?   We’re  not  here  to  just  speak  on  that,  but  we  know  that  we  need  to  address  that.  We  don't   want  al  of  our  attention  and  energy  on  that  work.  Because  that’s  a  whole  another  piece  of   work,  in  and  of  itself  that  people  did  not  sign  up  to  do.  I  feel  like  it  gave  space  for  people  to   just  notice.  What  we  invited  people  we  asked  them  notice  those  feelings  and  to  journal   about  them….     JM:  Anything  come  up  in  terms  of  age  and  gender?     TR:    I  just  saw  the  power  of  peoples  voices  in  general  because  the  space  was  so  open,  and   so  vibrant,  people  made  themselves  so  available  and  so  present,  I  couldn't  help  but  see   beyond  someone’s  age,  or  race.  Because  look  at  what  they're  expressing.  Look  at  what   they're  saying;  look  at  what  they're  sharing  with  the  group.  It  became  much  more  about   their  story  or  their  voice  than  there  race.  It  totally  broken  down  how  I  see  a  person  based   on  how  they  look  or  act,  or  smell,  or  speak.  And  it  became  about  pure  sharing.    Anything   that  came  up  other  than  race,  I  feel  like  we  handled  it.  Whether  it  was  giving  that  the  space   that  it  needed,  putting  parameters  around  it  so  that  it  didn't  take  over  everything,  or   putting  boundaries  down.  The  group  created  its  own  boundaries  and  its  own  ground  rules   and  guidelines  for  a  safe  space.  So  I  feel  like  we  handled  each  of  those  in  the  way  that  we   needed  to.  And  everybody  had  the  opportunity  to  speak  to  it  if  they  needed  to,  and  I  feel   like  the  way  that  we  moved  through  the  process,  we  did  so  in  the  way  that  we  needed  to   honor  everyone.  if  anyone  felt  like  they  were  disrespected  and  we  needed  to  make  space   for  that…there  wasn't  feedback  from  anyone  as  far  as  feeling  like  there  was  a  breakdown  at   the  end  of  that,  it  remained  feeling  whole.       JM:  Is  there  anything  else  you  would  like  to  share  about  what  you  experienced,  that   you  think  you  did  not  share?         TR:    I’ve  been  thinking  about  art  on  a  wall,  and  the  process  of  making  art.  The  end  result,   and  then  the  process.  in  the  way  that  modern  society  has  been  thinking  about  art.    I  can't   separate  myself  from  my  artistic  practice.  Some  people,  and  even  when  I'm  looking  at  art,   there’s  a  tendency  to  separate  the  humanity  from  the  piece  of  art.  i  refuse  to  do  that  in  my   work.  What  that  means  is  that  when  I'm  thinking  about  my  work,  I'm  thinking  about  it  as  a   whole,  and  I'm  thinking  about  the  whole  system.  How  this  art  interacts  in  the  world.  Who  I   am  as  a  human  being  when  i  made  this  art,  and  the  impact  that  its  going  to  have  when  I   walk  away  from  it.  I  think  about  audience,  but  I'm  not  making  audience….  audience  has  a   ring  of  objectification  what  I'm  doing,  and  what  I  feel  like  this  process  has  integrated  is  art  

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being  an  integral  part  of  the  human  experience,  and  what  that  human  experience  actually   means.  The  process  of  having  made  this  was  very  meaningful  for  a  number  of  people,  and   that  can't  be  quantified.  There  was  a  set  of  tools  that  we  had  access  to,  we  agreed  ahead  of   time  that  we  wanted  this  to  be  beautiful.  This  one  was  more  strategic,  a  lot  more   orchestrated  composition,  what  we  did;  we  used  abstract  things  to  work  for  humanity.  I   think  instead  of  making  humanity  slave  to  the  abstract  we  took  the  abstract  framework  and   made  it  work  for  humanity.  That’s  what  I  see  happen  often  in  academia  is  that  we  are   slaves  to  the  abstract.  And  we're  slaves  to  the  academy,  we're  slaves  to  thought,  we  loose   our  humanity,  because  idea  becomes  more  important.  Idea  becomes  object.  Idea  becomes   the  THING  that  we  talk  about.  We  don't  get  to  talk  about  our  humanity  in  the  classrooms,   there’s  no  space  for  that.  In  the  process  of  making  this  mural,  it  was  all  about  sharing  our   humanity,  and  that’s  what  really  made  it  beautiful.  And  I've  been  personally  thinking  how   this  is  what  I  have  been  missing  in  my  educational  career.  There  is  such  a  huge  disconnect   from  my  own  humanity  in  the  classroom.  But  yet  in  the  4  years,  were  expected  to  go  find   ourselves  as  artists.  So  the  notion  of  artist  becomes  bastardized,  were  not  longer  about  a   human  being,  were  talking  about  yet  another  role.  Empty  role  even,  because  its  another   manufactures  thing.  It  keeps  being  manufactured.  Just  like  the  stock  market.  It’s  painful  to   think  about,  where  academia  is  right  now.  And  where  the  art  world  is  right  now.  It’s  so   removed  from  humanity.  And  how  it  can  be  so  elitist.  I  ask  you  to  look  at  where  are  you  are   challenged  in  your  institution  to  compromise  your  own  humanity,  and  set  that  aside  for   your  'role'  as  a  professors.  Things  are  expected  of  you.  You’ve  got  higher  ups….  just  like   your  students  have  expectations  of  you.  What we've done here is an act of resistance to that same oppression.  I'm  happy  to  get  to  do  this  work  as  a  freelance,  independent   contractor.    The  work  of  working  for  humanity  is  up  to  question.  It’s  on  the  table  in  this  day   in  age  as  an  artist.          

YVETTE  MURRELL     JM:  What  was  your  experience  with  the  STITCH  Milwaukee  Community  Mural   Project?    What  were  the  things  you  liked  or  disliked  about  it?    

YM:    I  can  say  that,  I  came  into  this  project  because  I  was  interested  in  engaging  another   part  of  my  being,  in  something  that  was  creative  and  dynamic,  and  something  I  had  never   done  before,  but  that  felt  relational.    And  to  me,  the  mural  project  felt  very  relational.  And   diffidently  very  creative.    It  was  diffidently  outside  of  my  norm.    I  don't  paint,  and  I  don't   draw,  and  so  it  was  diffidently  a  stretch  for  me.  But  I  was  looking  for  something  that  would   allow  me  to  engage,  and  connect  with  people  that  I  care  about.  Maybe  even  expand  my   community  even  more  so.  My  goddess  daughter,  Tia,  is  fantastic,  and  she  was  telling  me  she   was  partnering  up  with  you  to  do  this  mural  project,  and  when  I  heard  that  it  was   connected  and  it  was  called  STITCH  Milwaukee  Community  Mural  project,  I  was  like  I   WANT  TO  DO  THAT!    I  had  to  sit  on  it  for  a  few  days,  and  thought  this  is  what  I'm  supposed  

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to  do.  So,  I  didn't  really  know  fully  what  I  was  going  to  get  into,  I  knew  I  didn't  know  how  to   paint.    I  knew  what  I  would  bring  into  it,  but  I  was  very  interested  in  how  it  was  going  to   unfold.    And  then  when  she  told  me  that  is  a  going  to  be  grounded  in  the  circle  process,   which  is  what  I  love,  I  was  all  down  for  that.  That  worked  for  me.  So  that's  just  a  little  bit   about  how  I  was  drawn  to  the  project    

JM:  What  were  the  things  you  liked  or  disliked  about  it?     YM:  What  I  liked  about  the  mural  project  process  was  the…well  its  a  background  thing  for   me,  there  was  a  way  that  I  saw  you  and  Tia  worked  together  and  interacted  with  each   other,  and  worked  things  together  that  created  the  space  for  us  to  do  the  work  that  we   needed  to  do  together.    Because  that's  what  needs  to  happen  in  the  circle  process.    I  was   really  grateful  that  there  was  integrity  in  the  process.    There  was  a  lot  of  thought,  and   planning  and  care  given  to  how  this  was  being  structured.  So  that  I  felt  like  it  was  a  pretty   safe  container  to  engage  in  and  to  begin  to  share  stories,  and  to  open  up  and  begin  to  trust.   Because  I  feel  like,  its  the  core  thing  of  the  circle  process,  is  trust.  If  you  don't  have  that,  you   don't  have  anything,  and  you  can't  really  do  anything  with  it.  And  so  I  was  grateful  to  be   able  to  have,  to  know  that  those  background  things  were  set  in  place,  so  that  when  we  came   to  the  circle,  I  felt  like  I  could  bring  all  of  myself.  So  that’s  something  that  I  really  liked   about  it.    I  also  liked  was  that  it  was  women  led.  I  don't  get  to  participate  in  a  lot  of  projects   that  are  women  led.  It  has  a  whole  different  energy  when  its  women  led,  no  matter  whose   participating  and  engaging,  if  the  people  who  are  holding  the  container  are  women,  it  has  a   different  energy  to  it.  And  it  had  much  more  of  a  circular  energy,  one  that  engaged  and  got   as  many  voices  to  contribute  to  the  process  as  possible.  One  that  was  based  one  story,  and   shared  listening  to  each  other.  So  all  of  those  elements  really  worked  for  me,  I  really  value   that.    And  I  think  the  other  thing  that  I  liked  the  most  about  the  project  was  how  dynamic  it   was.  How  we  contributed  to  each  other.  And  every  week  was  another  layer.  I  did  feel  like   we  were  building  something,  I  could  feel  the  building  happening.  Even  though  we  wee   intangible  from  a  mural  perspective,  early  on,  I  really  appreciated  that  we  were  building  it   from  the  intangible  level  together,  and  then  when  it  really  came  to  manifest  it  and  bring  it   3d,  we  had  already  done  enough  work  with  each  other  that  we  worked  really  well  together.   And  I  felt  like  I  had  a  pretty  good  listening  of  the  people  that  were  in  the  process  as  well.  So   that  I  valued.   What  i  didn't  like  about  the  process,  or  what  I  found  challenging  in  the  process,  is  that  some   of  the  stories  that  were  shared,  I  had  some  reactions  to.  Opinions,  they  weren't  just  sharing   a  story  of  their  own  background,  and  their  own  personal  experience,  they  were  opinions   being  shared,  and  perspectives  that  were  grounded  in  privilege.    There  was  a  lot  of   privilege  that  was  kind  of  dancing  around.  People  inserting  themselves  in  a  very   disrespectful  way  in  the  struggles  of  oppressed  people  what  I  appreciated  also  about  the   process  was  that,  I  felt  comfortable  enough  to  just  speak  my  mind  and  say  what  I  needed  to   say  and  I  spoke  to  it.  Both  in  the  circle  process,  and  outside  of  the  circle  process  to  the   19


individuals.  So  there  weren't  many  males  but  the  few  males  that  did  decide  to  participate   were  artists,  there  was  a  way  in  which  because  they  had  skills,  as  artists  that  was  willing  to   hear  their  perspectives  and  allow  space  for  them  to  have  input  in  a  way  that…but  because   we  were  in  the  circle  process  at  that  time,  they  were  trying  to  insert  themselves.  And  the   way  they  were  trying  to  insert  themselves  was  pretty  disrespectful.  One  of  the  males  was   laughing  at  the  idea  of  using  flowers  as  metaphor  for  the  city.         JM:  Do  you  think  it’s  a  reflection  of  the  project?  Or  was  it  about  the  process  that  we   chose  to  use?     YM:    It’s  a  function  of  all  healthy  group  evolvements.  so  you  chose  a  process,  i  wouldn't  say   that  it  didn't  need  to  happen.  I  would  say  that  there’s  value  that  it  did  happen.  Because  a   group  has  to  go  through  these  phases  so  that  was  our  storming  phase,  we  needed  to  storm.   And  it  just  happened  to  be  on  the  premise  of  male  privilege.  That  is  one  of  the  places  that  us   as  a  group,  we  happen  to  storm  and  struggle  a  bit.  And  it  was  a  space  because  we  had  a   container  where  we  could  begin  to  address  it,  both  offline  and  in  a  larger  context  with  each   other.  So  I  wouldn't  say  that  the  project  in  and  of  itself,  I  would  say  that  the  process  lent   itself  to  authenticity.  And  when  you  lend  yourself  to  authenticity,  all  that  stuff,  cuz  it  exists   all  the  time,  can  come  in.  and  it  came  in  effectively  and  I  think  it  was  dealt  with  effectively.  I   think  it  was  hard,  and  messy,  but  you  know,  messes  are  there  to  be  cleaned  up.  That’s  what   they're  for.    

JM:  Have  you  ever  been  in  a  project  like  this,  or  similar  to  this  one?   YM:    No,  never  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this.  i  have  been  a  part  of  circle  processes,  on   many  levels,  but  never  like  this.       JM:  Did  you  have  any  expectations  for  this  project  before  coming  into  it?    If  so,  what   were  they?   I  expected  it  to  be  a  circle;  I  did  expect  that  we  would  have  this  creative  sharing.  I  expect   that  we  would  have  agreements  that  we  would  come  as  a  group  that  we  would  hold  each   other.  And  I  know  that  that  happened  right  away,  it  happened  on  the  2nd-­‐3rd  session.   There  seemed  to  be  a  skip  over  of  agreements  as  to  how  we  would  be  in  the  circle  process   as  we  built  trust  and  work  together.  So  I  mean  that  was  the  only  expectation  that  I  had  that   I  noticed  wasn't  in  place.  So  to  me,  it  was  a  great  space  for  learning,  and  that’s  what  I  came   for,  right  on  point.     JM:    What  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  were  in?    Do  you   think  they  changed  for  you  as  the  project  continued?    

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I  worked  at  Pulaski  high  school  so  I  traveled  to  the  south  side  of  town.  So  I  mostly  only  go   to  where  I  need  to  go.  I  haven't  really  done  too  much  exploring.  I  didn't  really  know  how  to   expect.  I  felt  early  welcomed  from  the  moment  I  walked  into  the  space.  I  felt  like  there  was   a  deep  community,  and  I  was  honored  to  be  allowed  even,  and  welcomed  into  the  space.   And  every  time  I  come  I  feel  that  way  I  feel  like  it’s  a  family  gathering.  During  the  mural   project,  it  has  helped  me  feel  more  connected  to  this  side  of  town  and  what’s  happening  so   that’s  been  beautiful  for  me.    On  the  north  side  of  town,  one  of  the  things  I  realized  is  that  I   would  only  go  to  these  places  to  do  my  thing,  and  go  back  out.  I discovered that I really could be in community with people in that space and that was really profound.  So   I  feel  like  Milwaukee  has  expanded  for  me.  It  has  expanded  because  I  am  connecting  with   people  that  historically  I  would  not  have  connected  with  because  I  didn't  have  a  premise  in   which  to  do  that.  But  now  that  we  did  a  mural  together,  all  kinds  of  things  could  happen.      

JM:  What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?       YM:    I  feel  like  what  I  had  mostly  was  a  wondering.    I  felt  especially  in  the  Latin@   community,  that  I'm  more  on  the  outside  I  feel  like  I'm  on  the  edge  of  the  peripheral,  mostly   because  I  don't  really  know  what  the  assumptions  are.    There’s  this  tension  that  I'm  told   exists  between  brown  and  black  people,  but  I  don't  really  understand  the  nature  of  it,   where  it  comes  from.  I  don't  have  that,  but  I  recognize  that  that  exists  for  people  on  some   level  I  don't  necessarily  but  I  just  feel  it  energetically  in  the  space.  What  I've  been  most   open  to,  is  listening  for  as  many  bridges  as  possible.  And  what  those  blocks  are.  What  the   nature  of  those  blocks  might  be,  and  fundamentally  what  I  came  to  in  my  journey  in  this   process  is  that  I  decided  that  whatever  I  did  in  connecting  myself  to  people  from  other   ethnicities,  particularly  Latin@,  I  wanted  to  make  sure  that  I  wasn't  engaging  in  a  way  that   the  perpetrators  do  for  us.  I  didn't  want  to  do  that  same  thing.  So  I  wanted  to  come  in  ways   that  were  honoring  and  always  leave  room  and  space  for  know,  and  make  requests  of  each   other,  and  contribute  to  each  other  in  ways  that  were  honoring.  So  fundamentally  what  i   needed  to  do  more  of  was  listen.  And  i  really  needed  to  hear  how…  (end  of  video)       JM:  Anything  come  up  in  terms  of  age  and  gender?     YM:  What  I  feel  like  I'm  doing  is  really  listening.  So  its  a  different  experience  for  me  to  be   held  as  an  elder  in  the  space,  most  what  I'm  doing  is  really  listening  and  honoring  and   contributing  where  I  think  can  contribute.  I'm  just  noticing  that  some  of  the  ways  that  I   respond  naturally  to  situations,  or  dynamics  that  might  be  challenging,  are  being  attributed   to  me,  because  I  am  an  elder.  I  am  older,  I'm  48.  But  people  hold  me  like  that.  I'm  still   growing  and  learning,  but  in  this  environment  I'm  on  the  mature  end  of  folks,  so  that’s  been   21


valuable.  So  I've  been  able  to  speak  to  people  who  are  my  peers,  and  people  who  may  be  a   little  older  than  me,  and  younger  than  me.  And  I  felt  like  I've  experienced  a  lot  of   separating.  Mostly  I  felt  a  lot  of  respect.  Respect  for  young  people  and  their  voice,  and  also   respect  given  back  to  me  from  others.    And  from  a  gender  perspective,  I  think  there’s  a  little   bit  more  than  I  have  been  able  to  speak  to  directly.    For  me,  gender  has  not  been  a  stop.  It’s   diffidently  been  speak  to  though.  The  way  it  did  show  up  was  the  way  it  needed  to  be.  My   growth  space  was  really  on  the  issue  of  race  and  building  collaborations  and  connections   that  i  felt  were  honoring.     JM:  Is  there  anything  else  you  would  like  to  share  about  what  you  experienced,  that   you  think  you  did  not  share?         YM:    I  want  to  say  that  the  STITCH  mural  project  was  one  of  shared  power.  it  wasn't  power   over,  it  wasn't  even  power  with.  It  was  shared  power.  Where  there  was  a  fluidity  in  how   power  moved  through  our  space,  so  that  whatever  needed  to  manifest,  could  manifest.  And   sometimes  that  something  very  intangible,  and  sometimes  it  was  something  very  tangible,   but  it  was  diffidently  a  shared  power  space.  Maximum  voices  were  shared.  Maximum   perspectives  were  shared.  Insights  were  shared.  Many  questions  were  asked,  and  listening   was  happening  at  many  different  levels.  Not  just  to  the  words,  but  to  the  music  behind  the   words.  To  me  shared  power,  is  where  I  live,  its  where  I  thrive,  and  where  I  believe  the  most   voices  can  actually  thrive  in  our  society.  And  if  were  going  to  create  spaces  like  that,  we   have  to  be  extremely  intentional  it  doesn't  just  happen  automatically.  It  takes  effort,  it  takes   work.  And  it  takes  commitment  to  hold  those  boundaries  and  create  that  space  so  the   sharing  of  power  can  actually  happen.            

FRANCISCO  CONTRERAS     JM: What was your experience with the STITCH Milwaukee Community Mural Project? What were the things you liked or disliked about it?   FC:  I  liked  how  ritualistic  they  were.    It  had  a  retreat  kind  of  feel,  it  was  really  cool  to  have  a   talking  piece,  because  then  people  wouldn't  be  talking  over  each  other,  and  everyone  was   heard  it  was  all  planned  anything  before  it  started.  Me  being  an  artist,  I  can  see  the  value  in   that.    And  I  appreciated  that.  That  we  took  the  time  doing  that.   JM: Have you ever been in a project like this, or similar to this one?

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FC: I  kind  of  tried  doing  myself  a  piece,  but  the  way  that  I  did  it,  is  that  I  did  the  outline,   and  I  was  going  to  get  people  to  paint  it  and  finish  it  out.  It  was  a  lot  more  planned  this  way.   And  because  of  that  it  came  out  a  lot  better  than  my  piece.         JM: Did you have any expectations for this project before coming into it? If so, what were they? FC: More  debate  kind-­‐of,  instead  of  organized  talking.    I  thought  we  were  going  to  be   painting  a  lot  sooner,  but  when  it  developed  I  really  liked  how  much  time  we  took,  it  really   worked  out.       JM:  Could  you  expand  on  you  saying  that  you  enjoyed  everything  that  happened   before  the  painting?     FC:      It  was  not  sure  meeting  random  people, but it was forming a basis of the experiences of everyone, so knowing her story, his story, where are they coming from? And then seeing how that fits into a mural itself, and then being able to share some of yourself as well. So all the relationships that were built helped a lot. JM: Would you say that this project impacted you? If so, in what ways? FC: It  has  broadened  my  horizon  with  all  the  art  stuff  that  is  going  on  in  Milwaukee;  I  had   no  idea  how  big  it  was.  I  had  no  idea  about  STITCH  before  then.  It  just  showed  me  a  whole   different  side  of  Milwaukee.  That  there  is  a  big  arena  to  play  in,  and  that  there  is  a  lot  more   people  out  there  like  myself,  so  I  will  diffidently  be  a  part  of  this  for  a  long  time.   JM: What were your perceptions of the two sides of the city that we were in? Do you think they changed for you as the project continued? FC: Living  up  on  the  south  side  I  kind  of  knew  how  it  was  around  here,  but  on  the  north   side  I  didn't  really  know  what  to  expect.    For  the  coffee  shop  I  thought  it  was  going  to  be   like  an  actual  one,  but  it  turned  out  to  be  super  chill.  Just  kind  of  like  this  spot,  it  was  a  lot   better  than  my  expectations.         JM:  So  you  had  no  prior  idea  about  what  the  area  would  be  like?     FC:      I  had  been  there  a  few  times  because  I  know  people  that  live  over  there.  But  I  never   knew  the  actual  spot  itself;  I  didn't  know  how  it  was  going  to  be  at  all.  It  turned  out  really   good.    

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JM:  What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?       FC:    I  think  besides  the  mediums,  I  think  it  has  actually  broken  the  barriers  between  artists   &  non-­‐artists.  Or  people  who  have  other  talents  I  guess.    I  know  there  are  a  couple  of  people   who  had  artistic  inclinations  before,  and  the  input  that  they  put  in  was  as  valuable  as  mine   or  anyone  else.  I  think  it  really  brought  people  together.           JM:  Could  you  speak  specifically  to  any  of  these  divisions  of  race,  ethnicity?       FC:    I  would  say  that  we  just  got  a  lot  more  exposure  to  what  other  people  were  doing.  Like   we  might  know  a  certain  local  artist  from  here,  and  we'll  be  the  equivalent  on  the  other   side.  And  just  seeing  that  we  have  so  much  in  common,  and  that  we  can  just  connect  that   way.         JM:    How  about  in  terms  of  age?     FC:      As  far  as  age  goes,  I  think  it  was  really  cool  how  even  like  people  who  were  more   experienced  with  stuff  like  this  already,  who  already  kind  of  developed  a  leadership  role   kind  of  gave  me  more  role  models  to  look  at.    So  I  think  that  really  helped  out.  As  far  as   gender,  I  mean….  I  feel  like  it  was  more  of  a  collaborative  thing,  because  I  remember  there   was  one  instance  where  like  we  would  ALL  pitch  in,  and  we  all  ended  up  pitching  in  and   both  the  masculine  and  the  feminine  energies  were  in  the  environment.       JM:    I’m  interested  in  hearing  from  you  knowing  that  our  city  is  really  segregated,   and  then  this  project  tried  to  make  sure  that  we  were  in  two  areas  of  town,   wondering  if  that  was  something  that  you  thought  about  as  the  process  was  going  on   &  people  were  sharing  within  the  talking  circle?     FC:    I  guess  with  the  locations  it  just  kind  of,  set  a  different  mood  I  guess  because  I  never   even  heard  of  any  project  doing  that.    So  it  was  really  impacting,  I  thought  of  the  idea  &  I   was  like,  holy  shit.  That’s  dope!    I  never  would've  thought  of  the  STITChing  idea.  And  then,   that  it  was  just  a  mural  [and]  its  first  year.  But  it  had  already  been  going  on  before  (open   mic)  but  I  mean  otherwise,  the  alternating  locations  kind  of  forced  some  people  making   them  see  a  different  perspective.  Instead  of  just  having  the  idea  and  not  really  knowing.  I   guess  that  was  a  really  vital  part  to  it       JM:  could  you  share  what  your  experience  was  like  within  the  talking  circle,  and  all  of   the  stories  that  were  shared?   24


FC:      being  part  of  the  circle  you  feel  like  you  were  able  to  talk,  sometimes  you  wanted   people  to  share  a  little  bit  more,  cuz  they  only  shared  a  little  bit.      It  was  pretty  reassuring   to  have  no  judgment  and  stuff.      And  just  be  able  to  speak  your  mind  openly,  but  it  was  kind   of  frustrating  that  some  people  didn't  share  as  much.    Because  as  like  people  shared  a  lot,   you  just  wanted  to  hear  more  and  more.  Otherwise  with  the  circle  itself,  I  think  some  days   it  didn't  seem  kind  of  endless  because  we  had  conflicting  ideas,  but  that’s  what’s  to  be   expected  I  mean  otherwise  I  think  it  went  smoother  than  what  I  thought  in  the  first  place.  I   really  liked  the  circles.         JM:    Were  there  any  things  where  you  thought  about  or  shared  that  were  conflicting   by  other  people?  Or  maybe  something  you  didn't  share  in  the  circle,  but  you  had  to   think  about  it  twice  because  someone’s  opinion  was  very  different  than  yours?     FC:    Probably,  I  remember  it  was  the  first  couple  of  sessions  we  were  talking  about   politicians,  and  I  forgot  whom  it  was,  but  someone  had  ostracized  politicians  as  a  whole,   but  there  are  a  couple  that  are  good  out  there.  So  it  was  just  kind  of…it  was  just  something   to  think  about  [for  me].      Otherwise  it  was  just  a  couple  of  ideas,  I  remember  when  we  had   the  little  groups  and  we  were  coming  up  with  the  statement,  kind  of  how  it  was  on  the   offensive  or  peaceful  side,  using  aggressive  words  or  pacifist  words,  but  after  hearing   everybody  saying  there  stuff  it  all  worked  out.  it  was  little  stuff  like  that.       JM:    the  group  was  obviously  majority  women,  was  that  even  something  that  crossed   your  mind  or  you  noticed?     FC:    Sometimes  having  the  other  male  there  it  was  a  little  different,  but  being  the  only  boy   in  my  family  of  6  sisters,  I  was  kind  of  used  to  it  when  they  were  there.    It  was  a   subconscious  thing  I  guess.  It  didn't  really  matter.               KIM  LOPER       experience  within  this  project  &  process,  things  you  liked  or  disliked   (01:32)  the  process  has  been  very  awesome,  i  feel  like  some  of  the  most  important  pieces   for  me  have  been  meeting  other  people,  engaging  very  deeply  and  intimately  with  other   people,  exchanging  stories  and  histories,  and  then  kind  of,  for  myself  watching  where  those   stories  intersect  with  each  other,  and  how  they  react  in  a  space.  so,  that  has  been  very  fun   25


and  interesting  (02:03)  also,  being  able  to  see  the  different  sides  of  town  and  the  assets,   and  hear  people  talk  about  their  side  of  town  and  seeing  pride  that  people  have  in  different   sides  of  town.    in  terms  of  the  process  of  creating  the  mural,  i  feel  like  a  lot  of  it  was  kind  of   slow  moving,  but  now  that  we're  painting….at  a  certain  point  in  the  process  (02:39)   probably  4-­‐5  weeks  in  i  was  like…I  JUST  WANT  TO  PAINT,  we've  been  sitting  in  these   circles  forever  but  now  that  we're  painting,  and  the  piece  is  almost  done  i  feel  like  i   appreciate  all  the  time  that  we've  spent  building  relationships  because  now  like  the  most   important  part  of  the  process  i  see  as  the  relationship  building,  and  the  community   building  (03:06)  and  the  end  result  is  this  product  not  so  much  the  end  goal.     (where  there  things  that  you  particularly  liked  or  disliked?)  not  that  i  disliked  any  part   of  the  talking  circles,  but  sometimes  they  were  uncomfortable  and  theres  that  saying  like,   here  is  your  comfort  zone,  and  here  is  where  the  magic  happens,  so  ultimately  all  of  those   uncomfortable  moments  where  people  are  being  vulnerable,  or  you're  forced  to  be   vulnerable  and  that  moment  is  uncomfortable,  at  the  end  its  really  beautiful  and  really   important  (04:10)  so  that  was  something  that  i  recognized  that  was  awesome  and   challenging  too.  at  another  point  that  was  really  beautiful  and  awesome  was  when  we  had   the  cookout,  and  we  had  been  in  this  incubator,  i  feel  like  just  us  in  this  circle  for  weeks  and   weeks  and  weeks,  and  we  brought  it  out  to  the  community,  and  everyone  was  so  amazed,   and  we  were  able  to  bring  people  into  that  sacred  space  (04:56)  and  it  was  just  so   beautiful.  people  were  responding  very  well  to  it,  and  were  energized  and  it  was  the  right   feel,  at  the  right  time  for  our  group.     have  you  ever  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this?     not  specifically  like  this.  I've  done  community  building  things  in  the  style  of  talking  circles   with  public  Allies,  but  nothing  where  participants  who  are  involved,  it  was  totally   voluntary,  so  people  who  had  been  coming  in,  they're  doing  it  because  they  love  it.  not   because  they  have  community  serve  hours  to  fill  or  its  a  job  or  they've  made  some   commitment.  were  really  a  family  and  passionate  and  interested  in  continuing  this  work,   without  getting  paid  and  thats  magical.  (06:03)  (you  said  you  had  been  a  part  of  talking   circles,  could  you  expand  even  within  that  if  you  seem  similarities  and  diff)  (06:25)  so  i  was   a  social  justice  minor  in  college,  and  so  we  did  a  lot  of  talking  circles  in  classes,  and  in   public  allies.  and  those  spaces  are  kind  of  challenging  because  there  are  people  from   different  backgrounds  who  are  forced  to  sort  of  come  together,  and  so  they  get  really   tentious  very  fast,  and  they're  really  emotional  and  i  don't  feel  like  that  happened  in  [this   space]  they  were  really  organic,  everybody  wanted  to  be  there,  and  so  i  feel  like  the  result   looked  a  little  bit  different  i  think,  just  different  energy  when  people  want  to  be  in  a  space.       what  were  your  expectations  for  this  project?     i  didn't  really  have  expectations,  i  knew  that  i  wanted  to  meet  people,  and  develop   relationships,  and  thats  happened,  but  i  feel  like  what  i  thought  would  happen  is   26


happening,  and  even  these  expectations  its  gonna  be  so  AWESOME,  and  we're  going  to   CHANGE  THE  COMMUNITY,  i  feel  like  its  sort  of  happening.     would  you  say  that  this  project  has  impacted  you?  &  if  so  in  what  ways?   as  an  art  educator  (08:02)  I've  typically  been  in  positions  where  I'm  teaching  to  younger   people,  and  so  i  feel  like  i  have  to  come  with  a  certain  amount  of  knowledge  and  have  to  be   prepared  in  a  certain  way,  and  so  it  was  kind  of  nice  for  that  responsibility  to  not  be  on  me   in  the  space,  and  to  be  able  to  learn.  and  i  haven't  been  in  a  space  like  that  since  college,  and   i  love  learning.  and  its  free,  its  just  this  awesome  community  educational  space.  (08:33)  so  i   feel  like  i  learned  a  ton.  (could  you  share  some  of  those  things  that  you  learned?)  i  learned   from  the  facilitators,  how  to  encourage  very  diplomatic  sharing  process.  where   everybody  is  encouraged,  and  supported  to  share,  and  so  everything  in  this  mural  is   contributed  very  evenly  by  everybody  whose  involved.  the  facilitators  basically  just  guided   the  process,  but  in  terms  of  concept,  have  i  feel  like  (??09:23)  i  stood  back  a  little  bit,  and   thats  been  important  for  me  to  learn  how  to  do  from  the  position  as  an  educator  because   you  can  do  it,  you  can  do  it….so  we  were  just  talking  about  how  (09:37)  when  you  don't   want  to  take  the  credit  for  something  how  to  not  to  take  credit  for  something  in  community   work.  so  that's  been  cool  to  watch  how  to  do,  i  think  in  the  right  way.     what  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  worked  in,  &  do  you   think  that  they  changed?   i  grew  up  on  the  south  side,  and  i  now  live  on  the  north  side,  so  i  feel  like  i  have  a  general   knowledge  of  both  sides  of  towns,  but  i  got  to  know  both  spaces  really  differently  than  i   knew  before  th  process,  and  its  kind  of  like…milwaukee  is  so  small  but  its  so  separate.  so   even  though  (10:30)  in  my  mind  i  know  whats  happening  on  the  south  side,  and  i  know   whats  happening  on  the  north  side  i  really  don't.  so  getting  to  develop  a  more  intimate   and  authentic  relationship  with  both  sides  of  town  has  been  really  eye  opening   (10:50)  that  we  just  don't  ge  tot  see,  and  people  from  those  communities  that  i  wouldn't   have  met,  have  i  not  traveled  outside  of  my  backyard.     What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?     (11:26)  Yeah.  I  mean,  everybody  who  came  to  the  space  i  feel  like  it  was  a  really  diverse   group  of  people  in  terms  of  everything.  And  i  think  one  of  those  diversities  that  I  have   appreciated  the  most  has  been  AGE.  There  are  fold  who  are  pretty  young  who  are  18,  and   there's  babies,  young  young  people  who  are  involved.  And  older  people  who  have  been   doing  this  work  for  a  long  time.  So  it's  been  really  cool  to  watch  and  to  be  a  part  of  that   exchange.  (12:08)  So  I  feel  like,  yeah.  Racially,  gender,  age  all  of  those  that  were  broken   down  are  unique.  I  don't  feel  like  we've  provided  a  lot  of  space  for  that  to  happen  at  all.     27


And  I  think  there  are  things  happening  where  young  people  are  encouraged  to  come   together,  maybe  from  racial  backgrounds…but  in  those  spaces  its  usually  older  people  are   organizing  the  younger  people,  so  that  didnt  happen  and  that  was  cool.    (are  there  specific   instances  that  you  can  share,  where  you  felt  those  things  were  broken  down?)    (13:00)  I   guess  just  like  people  in  the  group  who  are  older,  who  i  know  that  do  really  good  work  in   the  community  were  in  positions  to  learn,  they  came  wanting  to  learn.  and  they  came  not   wanting  to  TEACH.  And  so,  I  think  that  was  probably  the  most  potent  on  my  mind,  where   everybody  was  there    to  leaner  things,  and  there  wasn't  issues  of  ego,  or  because  of  age  or   experience  and  just  like  a  lot  of  questions  being  asked.  and  i  think  in  terms  of  artist   background  (13:46)    i  feel  like  people  had  very  varying  artist  backgrounds,  and  so  maybe   older  people  who  are  really  strong  in  this  certain  area,  or  there  an  activist  who  maybe   weren't  strong  in  art,  sitting  beside  a  young  artist,  getting  new  information  about  how  to   paint,  how  to  blend  colors.  that  was  really  cool  for  me.  i  think  everybody  was  very  humble   in  the  process  which  helped.  and  then  vice  versa,  people  who  are  skilled  and  older,  and  able   to  share  their  knowledge.     (you've  talked  about  AGE,  I'm  interested  in  hearing  about  what  your  thoughts  were  in   terms  of  race  and  gender)  (14:35)well,  the  circle  was  mostly  women,  and  so  that  was   definitely  a  different,  i  feel  like,  power  dynamic  than  other  spaces  that  I've  ever  been  in,   where  males  were  the  minority,  and  then  in  terms  of  race  feel  like  there  was  probably  less   white  people  than  people  of  color,  and  i  feel  that  when  folks  were  sharing,  i  think  people   were  very  open  and  honest,  so  especially  as  a  white  person  (15:17)  i  just  feel  like  i  learned   a  lot  from  a  position  where  i  was  forced  to  listen  a  lot  and  everybody  was  forced  to  listen  a   lot.  like  the  time  that  you're  speaking  is  a  sliver  of  the  time  that  you're  listening,  and  so   yeah  i  just  feel  like  everybody  probably  learned  a  ton,  and  i  just  learned  a  lot  from  listening.       if  stitch  were  to  carry  out  another  project  like  this,  what  would  you  offer  as  feedback   for  the  planning  crew?   i  think  the  only  thing  that  i  had  talked  about  was  the  length  of  the  sharing,  and  i  know  that   iwas  hard  to  keep  everybody  in  the  same  page  when  there  were  two  groups  meeting.  there   was  a  friday  group,  and  sunday  group.     Are  there  any  other  things  you  would  like  to  share?   I  feel  like  there  were  a  lot  of  introverts  in  the  group,  i  process  information  slowly,  and  i   don't  always  feel  comfortable  sharing  with  my  words.  and  i  know  the  whole  point  of  the   sharing  circle  is  to  have  people  own  there  stories,  but  maybe  at  some  point  in  the  process,   maybe  for  people  to  submit  things  anonymously,  and  to  have  that  way  to  share  as  an   alternative,  i  feel  like  there  were  a  few  young  people.  this  process  doesn't  work  for   everyone.    sometimes  for  me  i  have  to  talk  my  ideas  out,  before  I'm  comfortable  with  my   idea.   28


(anything  else  you  would  like  to  share,  maybe  expanding  on  hearing  peoples  stories  and   that  process  of  people  being  very  vulnerable?)  so  the  small  group,  large  group  way  of   sharing  i  feel  like  there  were  a  lot  of  ideas  that  i  was  bringing  to  the  group  for  the  first  time.   i  was  forced  to  think  about  this  thing,  and  i  was  forced  to  spit  it  out,  and  after  i  sat  on  iti  felt   omore  comfortable,  i  would've  said  it  differently,  so  especially  some  concepts  of  whiteness   and  privilege,  that  i  just  feel  like  its  a  process,  when  you're  dealing  with  these  big  things   (01:10)  and  in  the  small  group  large  group,  i  was  able  to  regurgitate  and  just  kind  of  brian   storm  with  my  words  first.  i  feel  like  that  would  have  just  given  me  more  confidence  in   sharing,  and  maybe  allowed  me  to  share  in  a  different  way,  than  i  did  in  a  large  circle.     (what  have  your  thoughts  been,  you  being  from  mke,  mke  being  said  to  be  the  most   segregated  city  in  the  nation,  and  this  project  happening..what  do  you  think  about  those   two  things,  and  how  this  project  happened?)  (02:33)  …..  (03:14)  I've  been  involved  in  other   projects  that,  well  since  I've  worked  with  different  non-­‐profits  in  the  city  for  awhile,  i  feel   like  I've  seen  "work"  done  in  this  area  thats  led  by  white  people,  so  the  difference  between   that  type  of  work,  and  this  type  of  work,  has  been  very  obvious  that  when  its  led  by  people   of  color,  and  white  people  who  are  typically  in  charge  of  those  things,  and  they  have  to  sit   back  i  feel  like  the  progress  just  looks  different,  its  more  authentic,  people  are  more   interested  in  being  involved.  (03:59)  because  we've  seen  white  folks  try  to  do  all  these   things  with  "diversity"  and  it  doesn't  work  because  its  not  done  right.  and  it  feels  very   political,  and  people  are  trying  to  get  grants,  so  it  just  feels  like  this  fake  "integration,  or  de-­‐ segregation"  and  so  this  project,  being  really  grassroots…money  raised  from  the  ground  up,   people  invested  in  this  project,  because  its  their  lives.  i  just  feels  like  that  success  is  totally   different.  its  what  the  city  actually  needs….  these  movements  don't  have  to  be  led  by   white  people.  and  so,  i  feel  like  that  something  that  was  really  awesome  to  watch  and  to   step  back  on…yeah,  the  way  that  that  movement  is  led.   Josh  DelColle     experience  within  this  project  &  process,  things  you  liked  or  disliked   (01:30)  as  soon    as  i  hear  about  the  project,  i  think  i  saw  the  video…and  i  thought  this  is   awesome,  i  want  to  do  this…this  sounds  like  such  a  good  project…and  i  remember  the  first   meeting  i  came  to  at  sweet  black  coffee  was  like…the  best  thing  i  had  been  to  in  a  really   long  time…i  had  been  in  meetings  for  a  bunch  of  other  things,  like  police  brutality  stuff,  and   that  work  was  really  stressful,  and  my  job  was  really  stressful,  and  i  came  to  this  meeting,   in  this  beautiful  circle  and  there  was  just  so  much  respect  and  just  mindfulness  that  was   required  to  be  in  the  space,  that  it  automatically  made  it  a  really  comfortable  place  for  me,   and  it  ink  everybody  else.  and  i  felt  like  i  could  start  sharing  right  away.  the  second  week   when  there  was  a  lot  less  people,  i  was  kind  of  a  little  bit  discouraged,  but  then  as  we   started  meeting  more  and  more,    and  it  became  more  of  a  solid  group,  i  starting  becoming   29


more  comfortable  again  (02:24)  there  were  a  couple  of  weeks  where  i  was  like..maybe  i   don't  belong…i  don't  fit  it  in  (being  okay  with  feeling  uncomfortable  -­‐-­‐>  vulnerability  -­‐-­‐>   realness  -­‐-­‐>  learning  -­‐-­‐>  growth)  i  was  really  trying  to  check  myself  to  make  sure  i  wasn't   interrupting  the  space  because  i  know  i  was  the  only  white  male  there,  so  that  was  like..  i   wanted  to  make  sure  i  was  there  for  the  right  reasons,  and  that  i  wasn't  making  anybody   else  uncomfortable,  and  that  my  voice  was  relevant,  and  once  i  felt  like  that,  i  felt  like  it….i   think  it  was  after  maybe  3  weeks  or  4  weeks  that  we  had  kind  of  a  solid  group,  and  it   became  what  it  is  now,  and  we  got  the  initial  mural  started.  and  once  that  got  started  going,   it  was  just  really  cool  because  the  process  became  even  more  healing  (03:04)  and  even   more  creative.  i  haven't  had  a  creative  space  in  a  long  time,  so  having  that  opportunity  to   like  kind  of  put  my  ideas  into  actions.  even  the  sketches  i  did,  we  started  doing  sketching.  i   had  ideas.  i  had  preconceived  ideas  of  what  i  would  want  to  contribute  towards  the  mural,   and  what  i  drew  was  totally  different,  and  it  just  came  out  instinctually,  and  that  was  pretty   cool.    and  then  the  painting  process  was  really  cool.  because  i  had  never  been  a  part  of…i   never  was  a  painter,  i  never  was  good  at  making  figures  or  anything  like  that…so  it  was  cool   watching  people  that  are  professionals,  and  the  people  who  aren't   professionals…collaborating,  learning,  drawing  and  have  the  community  help  out  with  it   too.  (03:52)       have  you  ever  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this?     (04:32)  i  haven't  been  a  part  of  an  art  project  like  this,  but  i  have…like  when    was  in  high   school  i  was  a  part  of  an  ACLU  group  called  the  Other  America  Tour,  that  was  for  high   school  students,  from  all  over  the  Milwaukee  Metro  area,  and  it  was  an  anti-­‐oppression   training  that  turned  into  an  anti-­‐oppression  workshop,  that  lead  into  a  youth  development   program,  so  we  did  in  a  very  intense  and  intentional  way,  all  the  youth  were  put  through   many  processes  into  creating  what  they  wanted  the  workshops  to  be,  so  thats  kind  of  like   the  closes  thing  I've  been  to  like  planing  something,  and  having  it  be  a  collaborative  effort,   through  racial,  class  gender,  all  those  lines.  and  then  ever  since  then  i  have  been  looking  for   something  that  was  very  similar  in  terms  of  having  such  a  diverse  group  of  people  and  then   having  such  a  specific  aim,  that  is  battling  segregation  in  milwaukee.         what  were  your  expectations  for  this  project?     (05:37)  i  really  didnt  have  any  expectations  coming  into  it.  i  knew  like  from  jump  it  was   going  to  be  cool  and  i  would  like  it.  i  was  totally  like…the  second  i  saw  the  video…the   minute  that  i  heard  it  was  about  bringing  the  north  and  south  side  together,  i  was  like,  I'm   sold.  like…  i  don't  even  care  if  it  sucks…it'll  be  a  good  learning  experience.  but  i  didn't  really   have  any  doubts  about  it.  i  think  it  was  partially  because  Ani  told  me  about  it,  and  I  just   trust  her.  So  I  was  like,  if  she  backs  it  then  its  cool.    

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(so  no  expectations?)  (06:16)  i  remember  very  distinctly  how  i  felt  when  i  came  to  the  first   meeting,  because  the  entire  week  before  was  the  most  stressful  week  i  had  had  in  a  really   long  time,  because  i  got  jumped  by  the  police,  my  job  was  really  stressful,  my  clients  was   going  through  with  a  big  crises,  there  was  just  stuff  with  my  roommates  and  friends,  and   there  was  a  lot  of  violence  going  on  in  the  city.  one  of  my  other  clients  recently  lost  one  of   his  best  friends  in  a  shooting,  so  i  was  seeing  all  the  really,  bad  aspects  of  milwaukee,  and  i   was  involved  in  all  of  this  police  brutality  stuff  that  was  stressful.  i  went  to  a  march  a  couple   of  days  before  the  first  meeting  where  i  got  arrested,  and  the  cops  hit  a  woman…and  it  was   real…i  was  just  feeling  really  heavy.  and  i  was  really  stressed  out  about  this  stuff…  i  didn't   want  to  be  in  the  city  even.  so  it  was  like…i  think  i  was  so  desperate  for  something  that  was   different  (07:19)  than    anything  else  that  i  was  doing.  and  i  needed  something  so   desperately  that  like…i  really  didn't  have  any  expectations.  it  was  kind  of  like  i  need  to  go  to   this  because  i  think  it  will  be  an  outlet  that  will  be  positive  for  me.  and  it  was.     would  you  say  that  this  project  has  impacted  you?  &  if  so  in  what  ways?   (07:46)    i  think  its  helped  me  be…just  overall  this  summer  be  more  mindful  and  a  lot  more,   I'm  always  a  pretty  self-­‐aware  and  self-­‐critical  person,  but  it  added  a  level  of  mindfulness  to   like  the  way  my  summer  went  and  i  had  to  make  a  lot  of  decisions  over  the  past  couple  of   weeks  and  months.  like  my  job,  and  my  future,  going  to  school  and  things  like  that.  so  its   helped  with  that  and  its  helped  me  get  a  new  perspective  in  the  city.  i  think  the  best  thing   about  it  (08:14)  for  me  was  a  lot  of  the  spaces  i  had  been  in  for  the  past  several  years  with   most  of  the  activism  i  had  been  doing,  had  been  very  masculine  spaces.  and  it  was  really   cool  for  me  to  be  in  a  more  feminine  space  that  was  more  nurturing,  and  more  reflective,   whereas  i  have  been  around  a  lot  of  really  reactionary  things  that  haven't  been  productive.   so  it  was  refreshing,  very  refreshing.     what  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  worked  in,  &  do  you   think  that  they  changed?   With  Sweet  Black  Coffee  I  had  actually  been  working,  i  was  part  of  an  organization  called   Occupy  the  Hood,  about  two  years  ago,  and  our  main  area  of  interest  was  that  exact  street.   20th  street,  right  off  of  North.  so  i  spent  a  lot  of  time  in  that  neighborhood,  not  that  specific   part  of  the  neighborhood,  but  I  had  been  in  that  neighborhood  a  lot.  and  I  had  also  grown   up  in  milwaukee,  i  grew  up  on  for  most  of  my  life  on  52nd  and  Lloyd  so  I  would  always  go   up  and  down  North.  so  i  feel  like  this  is  like  my  hood,  although  its  not  my  hood  this  is  where   I'm  from.  i  feel  very  comfortable  there.  and  coming  to  aztec  ink  was  a  little  bit  different.  i   had  been  up  &  down  Cesar  Chavez  and  16th  street,  i  had  friends  from  the  south  side,  but  I   had  never  really  spent  a  sustained  amount  of  time  on  the  south  side  (09:43)  my   conceptions  of  the  south  side  have  always  been  a  more  vibrant  and  interesting  place  than   some  of  the  north  side.  like,  just  even  the  street,  theres  no  street  that  is  as  vibrant  as  cesar   chavez  on  the  north  side.  its  just  really  cool  to  be  here,  and  to  kind  of  experience  that.   31


(10:10)  (milwaukee  being  known  by  others  as  one  of  the  most  segregated  cities,  do  you   think  that  it  showed,  self  reflections  on  creating  a  space,  where  people  from  different   neighborhoods  are  able  to  share)    (10:43)  i  think  it  accomplished  what  it  set  out  to  aim.   with  the  goal  was  to  create  a  space  for  likeminded  people  from  all  different  areas  of  the  City   to  create  a  mural  about  segregation  and  then  to  have  the  whole  process  be  people  kind  of   define  their  own  Milwaukee.  it  diffidently  accomplished  that.  (re-­‐phrased  question,  do  you   really  feel  like  the  project  combated  segregation?)  (11:38)  Yeah  i  really  feel  like  we  did,  i   mean  having  it  be  on  both  sides  of  town,  obviously  makes  you  change  location  and  for  me,    i   made  a  point  almost  every  single  time  to  ride  my  bike  from  where  i  live  in  river  west  down   here,  afterwards  i  would  ride  around  the  south  side  and  just  chill  in  areas  i  had  never  been   to,  go  check  out  taco  trucks…just  to  get  to  know  this  area  a  little  bit  better.  and  then  in   terms  of  the  people  in  the  group,  i  think  it  diffidently  you  had  people  from  all  over.       What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?     (12:33)  i  think  the  one  thing,  i  wasn't  sure  what  the  actual  make  up  of  the  group  would  be.  i   think  i  initially  thought  that  it  would  be  a  little  bit  younger  of  a  group,  and  so  even  when  i   came  into  it  i  was  rely  enthusiastic  and  wanted  to  be  a  part  of  it,  i  was  thinking  i  might  end   up  being  one  of  the  older  people  in  the  group,  and  then  knowing  that  if  i  was  i  would  be   more  hands  off  with  it.  and  kind  of  lending  whatever  i  could  do  to  it,  so  it  was  interesting   having  the  age  kind  of  shift,  to  a  more  older  crowd,  and  even  though  there  wasn't  that  many   younger  folks,  it  was  still  really  cool  to  have  a  diversity  of  age,  kind  of  a  20yr  age  gap   between  everybody.  it  was  interesting  just  having  it  be  mostly  female  space,  and  then   having  it  be,  and  being  one  of  the  only  white  people  in  the  space,  and  then  being  pretty   much  the  only  white  man  in  the  space,  it  was  good  for  me  to  be  a  part  of  that  because  even   though  at  my  job,  and  in  a  lot  of  my  activist  spaces  I'm  almost  one  of  the  only  white  people,   it  was  a  totally  different  experience  here  because  not  only  because  of  the  actual  people  in   the  room,  but  because  of  the  goal  of  the  project  and  the  way  it  was  set  up,  made  it   more…mindfulness,  more  creative  and  reflective.  it  really  was    and,  i  think  the  way  you  and  tia  set  up,  made  it  really  flourish  in  that  sense.    (I'm  interested   in  hearing  more  about  you  as  a  male,  and  how  that  experience  was  with  having  mostly   women  around)  (15:27)  it  was  good,  because  it  let  me  let  go.  in  almost  any  space  I'm  in  I'm   one  of  the  only  male  identified  people,  or  I'm  one  of  the  only  white  people  there,  i  know   that  i  need  to  back  off,  and  its  good  for  me  to  just  let  go,  and  let  go  of  control  so  there  was   times,  instinctually  i  wanted  to  be  this  way,  and  i  was  like,  it  doesn't  matter  how  i  want  it  to   be,  as  long  as  its  a  collaborative  effort,  it  got  to  a  point  where  i  was  like,  i  was  very  happy   with  the  drawing  i  had  made,  i  don't  know  where  this  came  from,  and  its  just  so  cool,  i  like   what  i  made,  and  i  was  like  i  really  want  the  fist  to  be  part  of  the  painting  really  badly,  but   there  was  a  point  where  it  was  like,  it  doesn't  matter  at  all,  like  i  don't  care.  and  that  letting   32


go  point  for  me  was  like  really  good,  was  kind  of  freeing  i  guess  (16:24)  like  i  said  before,   I'm  always  a  very  self-­‐aware  and  critical  person  and  to  like,  be  not  so  much  policing  myself   and  my  thoughts  and  actions,  but  to  be  aware  of  like  how  my  presence  might  be  imposing,  i   think  thats  really  good.  its  always  really  good  for  people  to  be  aware  of  how  their  particular   presence,  regardless  of  like  any  identity  issue,  even  in  terms  of  personality,  its  always  good   to  be  self-­‐aware,  i  think  this  helped  me  be  more  self  aware  (17:02)  more  conscious  of  how  i   present  myself  and  how  i  act  in  group  settings.  (why  did  so  many  men  end  up  leaving  the   space?)  (18:08)  i  think,  the  cyclical  aspect  like  you  were  saying  i  think  it  being  a  more  open   ended  process  might  have  been  frustrating  for  some  of  the  men  in  the  group.  and  for  me,  i   was  constantly,  personally  challenging  myself  to  make  sure  i  was  present  because  it  was  a   good  healing  process,  but  it  was  a  good  process  for  me  to  go  through  and  i  was  conscious  of   that  of  being,  i  need  to  do  this.  not  only  is  it  good  for  my  identity,  and  making  me  feel  good   about  the  work  I'm  doing  and  i  think  its  really  important  for  it  to  be  done,  but  I'm  also   going  to  change  an  aspect  about  myself,  and  be  more  open  conscious  person.  so,  if  other   men  didn't  have  that  intention,  maybe  that  might  have  been  a  factor.  i  advent  really  talked   to  any  of  the  guys  so  i  don't  know.  but  for  me,  I'  try  to  be  a  very  detached  person.  i  don't   really  get  in  my  chest  or  egotistical  about  how  i  think  a  project  should  be.  not  to  say  that   male  identified  people  do  that.  (can  you  speak  more  about  the  talking  circle)  (20:13)  i  think   the  talking  circle  was  my  favorite,  just  because  it  was  good  for  me  to  (MVI_0004)  listening   was  really  good  because  at  my  job  i  do  a  lot  of  listening,  and  i  hear  a  lot  of  very  distressful   and  intense  things  all  the  time  with  the  youth  i  work  with,  and  to  have  it  be  in  a  different   context.  i  was  hearing  things  that  were  uncomfortable  and  stressful,  were  intense  it  was   just  a  totally  different  context  than  what  i  was  used  to  hearing  those  things  in  recently.  and   seeing  these  things  or  hearing  these  things  in  the  context  of  a  healing  space,  but  also  having   it  be  knowing  that  it  would  come  to  create  an  end  product  like  the  mural  behind  me  was   really  cool  because  it  was  like…i  don't  want  to  say….talking  is  always  productive  (00:47)  in   some  ways,  when  it  was  almost  more  like  how  can  i  use  my  personal  experiences,  or   how  can  the  personal  experiences  of  us  individuals  that  come  from  all  different  parts   of  the  city  and  backgrounds…how  can  we  show  that  individuals  matter,  and  that  they   can  come  together  to  create  a  group  process  and  a  group  outcome.  (01:10)     if  stitch  were  to  carry  out  another  project  like  this,  what  would  you  offer  as  feedback   for  the  planning  crew?   not  really,  I've  ran  project  before  where  it  was  the  first  time  and  you  don't  know  how  its   going  to  go,  whatever  happens  happens  for  a  reason.  group  accountability  is  important   (02:31)  (03:14)  for  me  just  the  process  of  getting  here  was  really  cool.  i  ride  my  bike   everywhere  and  I'm  so  used  to  riding  up  and  down  north  all  the  time,  and  its  no  big  deal  to   go  to  sweet  black  coffee,  but  like  just  coming  here,  and  going  across  the  16th  street  bridge   or  like  riding  around  after  sessions,  checking  out  the  south  side  has  been  really  really  cool   part  of  it  for  me  personally.  i  feel  more  conscious  of  the  city  than  i  had  in  a  really  long  time,   33


in  a  way  that  doesn't  stress  me  out  either.  I've  been  here  for  almost  20yrs,  defidently  gave   me  a  new  relaxed  appreciation  to  the  city  in  a  way  that  i  haven't  for  a  while.  (do  you  think   that  this  project  was  really  community  driven)  (05:18)  yes,  i  think  the  space  was  defidently   fluid  enough  and  open  enough  that  it  really  could  be  amore  community  driven  space,   because  it  was  interesting  every  time  i  do  a  new  project,  or  i  do  something  around  activism   in  the  city  i  always  wonder  what  the  community  is  going  to  look  like,  and  for  the  last  few   projects  and  initiatives  or  protests  has  always  tended  to  have  the  same  people  over  &  over   again  and    its  the  same  personalities  clashing  and  things  like  that.  it  was  really  refreshing   for  me  to  be  a  part  of  the  space  where  i  think,  even  though  i  knew  people  here  that  were  in   the  space  before  hand,  and  had    a  pre-­‐conceived  notion  of  who  they  were,  but  it  was  cool   because  it  really  created  its  own  community.  the  process  created  a  community  space  for   specific  community,    (06:36)  the  fluidity  of  the  structure  lent  itself  to  real  community   building,  because  we  were  to  kind  of  like,  especially  with  the  talking  circles,  they   went  on  a  lot  longer  than  was  initially  expected,  it  was  still  important  to  the  process.   and  even  with  like  the  sketching,  i  think  there  was  like  a  day  we  thought,  OKAY  we're  going   to  get  this  all  done  in  a  week  because  we  got  so  much  momentum,  and  then  we  kind  of   stepped  back  and  realized  like  okay,  maybe  not  everyone  in  the  group  was  feeling  that,  we   kind  of  got  too  ahead  of  ourselves,  and  now  we  don't  really  know  what  we  want,  we   thought  we  knew  what  we  want,  but  we  walked  out  and  realized…oh  is  that  even  what  we   want  or  do  we  really  have  it  together….i  think  the  structure  helped  us  figure  that  out,  and   having  it  be  open  ,  its  been  cool.  its  been  awesome.     MVI_1532     Auddie  Connor     experience  within  this  project  &  process,  things  you  liked  or  disliked   its  been  extremely  energizing  and  new,  and  really  exciting  to  step  back  and  see  I  was  a  part   of  that.  it  has  been  a  long  time  since  I've  been  working,  doing  visual  art.  probably  since  high   school.  it  seems  like  once  you  enter  the  real  world,  outside  of  school  when  they  give  you   opportunities  like  that,  you  really  have  to  seek  out  opportunities.  and  if  you  don't  see   yourself  as  a  visual  artist,  then  you  don't  really  get  the  opportunity  to.  so  when  i  heard   about  this  project,  i  was  a  little  weary.    But  I  saw,  no  experience  needed,  so  I  said,  why  not.     It's  amazing  just  looking  at  that.    I  can't  even  say  that  I  disliked  anything,  everything  about   this  experience  has  been  positive  and  wonderful.  it  was  really  incredible  to  me,  to  see  how   we  were  able  to  all  contribute.  Like  I  didn't  think  we  would  all  be  able  to  contribute  so   much,  and  in  the  same  way.    Even  like  having  Kayla's  kids  and  AliAlei,  it  was  truly  a   community  mural.    And  I  was  thinking  mores  the  process  of  designing  it  would  be   community,  and  then  we  would  have  the  "artists"  come  in  and  do  it.  But  I  think  what  really   stood  out  to  me  was  that  we  can  do  this.  people.  anyone.  coming  off  the  street.  come  do  this  

34


if  this  is  what  you  are  about.  So  that  stands  out  to  me  about  this  project.  it  was  really   empowering.     have  you  ever  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this?     no.  not  really.  collectively  I've  done  some  things,  because  this  project  has  really  been  about   a  political  statement.  a  political  movement.  something  that  we've  done  as  activists.  so  I've   done  stuff  like  that,  but  never  something  that  has  manifested  in  visual  art.  and  that  has   been  really  refreshing.  and  new  to  me.     so  you  shared  right  now  that  you  have  been  part  of  something  like  it,  or  something   similar  thats  political.  what  would  you  say  then  are  similarities  or  differences   between  what  we  experienced  here  and  your  experiences  in  those  other  places?   differences  would  be  the  intimacy  of  this  group.  it  was  a  really  small  group,  and  we  spent  a   lot  of  time  sharing  personal  stories,  and  really  being  listened  to.  not  like  "hey  I'm  gonna  tell   somebody  this  thing  that  they  already  know"  but  like…it  was  almost  like  in  the  beginning   we  had  therapy  sessions.    this  is  how  I'm  feeling.  so  that  was  different  from  things  like   rallies  and  marches,  and  different  collectives  of  people  trying  to  come  together..and  say   something.  the  similarities  then  would  be  the  feelings  of  safety,  and  comfort  and   understanding.  like  okay  everybody  in  this  space  is  here  for  different  reasons  too,  but  we   all  have  a  common  ground  here,  and  that  is  a  very  positive.  there  would  be  days  where  i   would  come  to  these  sessions  exhausted  and  be  like  "meh"  and  i  would  leave  just  mentally   in  a  good  place.  and  i  think  thats  the  same  things  like…labor  day  marches…it  restores  your   faith  in  humanity  a  little  bit,  which  is  good  (05:34)       what  were  your  expectations  for  this  project?     i  seriously  knew  nothing  about  it  before…i  knew  nobody  coming  into  it,  I'm  trying  to   remember  how  i  found  it.  i  think  i  got  an  email  from  anti  racist/anti  bias  teaching   conference  in  franking,  and  i  think  one  of  the  organizers…i  read  about  it…i  saw  it  was   open…i  didn't  expect  it  to  be  so  much  a  process,  but  just  touching  go,  come  do  this  and  that.   so  it  defidently  exceeded  my  expectations.  like  i  didn't  expect  to  feel  so  connected  and  so   proud  of  it.  i  tell  people  about  it  all  the  time.  i  guess  i  didn't  really  have  too  many.  except  for   that  i  didn't  expect  all  the  talking  and  the  artistic  process  (06:58)     would  you  say  that  this  project  has  impacted  you?  &  if  so  in  what  ways?   totally.  i  really  want  to  continue  doing  murals.  i  was  laughing  the  other  night,  i  think  that   I'm  just  ognna  like  get  on  a  bus  and  travel  the  country  and  be  a  part  of  murals…i  defidently     want  to  keep  doing  it.  its  inspired  me,  and  energized  me  like  oh  i  can  do  this.  i  can  look  back   at  the  process  and  defidently  try  to  do  it  again,  anywhere.       what  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  worked  in,  &  do  you   think  that  they  changed?   35


the  last  time  i  had  really  spent  any  time  at  the  north  side  location,  was  in  the  fall  of  2009   because  i  was  just  starting  my  teaching  education  program  and  i  was  doing  a  hands  on   classroom  experience,  a  TA  at  Browns  street,  which  is  just  down  the  street  from  where   Sweet  Black  Coffee  is,  and  i  would  walk  passed,  what  is  Alice's  garden  every  day  when  I   would  get  off  the  bus  on  North  avenue,  and  I'm  not  sure  whether  Alice's  Garden  was  as  run   down  as  it  looked  back  then  because  it  was  off  season…but  i  don't  think  so.  so  when  we  had   our  party  there,  and  just  seeing  the  area,  i  was  so  amazed  by  how  much  its  flourished  in  the   last  few  years.    the  garden  looks  amazing  and  its  obviously  had  a  lot  of  work  put  in  to  it,  it   just  looks  really  well  taken  care  of.  it  got  me  over  there  and  it  made  me  realize  there  really   is  a  lot  of  positive  things  going  on,  and  a  lot  of  growth  going  on  over  there,  and  i  think   like..before…being  over  there  years  ago…i  just  kinda  of  thought,  "oh  this  is  just  run   down…there's  a  lot  of  abandoned  buildings"  there  was  one  time  when  we  were  painting  the   mural  outside  of  Sweet  Black  Coffee,  and  we  were  coming  up  with  our  mission  statement,   and  there  was  this  moment…(10:00)  and  i  think  other  people  felt  it  too…there  were  people   working  on  the  workshops  for  the  open  mic,  it  was  just  so  many  of  us,  so  many  different   people  and  ages,  genders,  backgrounds  and  languages…and  we  were  all  just  there  (use   outside  photo)  and  there's  this  beautiful  garden,  and  we've  got  all  this  good  stuff   happening  and  it  was  such  a  pretty  thing.  and  i  felt  powerful  and  i  wondered  if  people   driving  by  were  attracted  to  it  because  just  the  presence  itself  was  so  important  and   positive.    so  yeah  that  was  the  north  side  and  how  I've  come  to  see  it  as  there  are  socially   conscious,  artistically  driven,  socially  justice  oriented  people  in  this  neighborhood  working   to  transform  it  for  the  better.  and  its  not  decaying  (interesting  and  problematic…)     the  south  side  location  (11:25)  i  didn't  spent  a  lot  of  time  in  the  neighborhood  around  here,   but  i  think  just  the  fact  that  it  was  here  at  aztec  ink  was  cool  because  i  think  i  would've   expected  a  tattoo  shop  to  be  so  sharing,  this  kind  of  thing  or  would  have  been  so   supportive.  but  i  thought  that  was  pretty  cool.  to  see  the  support  from  the  guys  at  the  shop   have  given  us  really  kind  of  changed  my  outlook.  could  you  speak  more  to  perceptions   with  the  neighborhood  itself.  you  sharing  that  you  have  lived  in  the  north  side…  yeah   I've  lived  in  the  same  place  the  whole  time….(12:39)  i  guess  like  i  mean,  obviously  the   segregation.  the  south  side  is  latino,  latina  and  the  north  side  is  african  american,  and  thats   just  how  it  is,  and  thats  what…i  mean  i  kind  of  knew  that  that  was  what  STITCH  was  about,  i   had  read  about  it.  and  so  i  knew  that  that  was  what  the  STITCH  collective  is  trying  to   dismantle,  but  i  defidently  feel  that  way…not  still  like  its  exclusive,  but  the  city  sees  it  that   way.  and  we  have  a  lot  of  work  to  do  in  regard.  to  make  people  feel  like  oh  I'm  not  going  to   be  shunned….     What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?       36


It  was  nice  for  me  personally  to  be  in  the  minority  (white)  and  to  take  a  listening  role  as  a   white  person.  because,  i  mean,  you  rarely  get  a  lot  of  open  dialogue  about  experiences  in   race  that  aren't  just  run  by  white  people  anyway  (14:30)  that  is  very  much  the  case  at   UWM,  and  especially  in  the  English  Education  program  theres  a  lot  of  white  women.  so  it   was  kind  of  a  new  thing  to  me,  to  be  with  other  adults  and  to  take  a  listening  role  in  that   regard.  because  like  with  teaching  it  was  kind  of  similar…because  i  spent    a  lot  of  time   listening  to  my  students  because  they  have  so  many  experiences…so  that  was  in  the  circles,   present.  and  that  was  a  really  good  thing.  i  was  a  little  bummed  out  that  we  didn't  have  a   stronger  male  presence  and  a  male  voice  because  i  felt  like  i  don't  know  what  it  was  that   made  so  many  males  kind  of  flee  the  scene  from  the  first  meeting…and  my  hunch…my   suspicion    is  that  it  had  to  do  with,  "we  don't  want  t  talk  about  our  feelings  and   experiences"  because…not  to  stereotype…but  that  is  what  happens…from  observing  from   the  process.  so  i  was  a  little  sad  that  we  didn't  have  that  voice,  and  i  thought  about  that  a   lot.  and  then  i  thought  that  its  okay  that  we  had  a  lot  of  women…because  we  are  a  group  of   women  from  different  spaces,  backgrounds  and  experiences  and  we  are  all  coming  together   for  the  same  mission.  i  want  to  know  more  about  the  male  perspective…especially  in  a  city   where  the  public  education  system  where  males  are  really  underserved…so  the  project   kind  of  failed  in  that  regard…but  what  could  we  do  about  it  (16:40)  we  couldn't  force   someone  to  come  in  and  share  from  their  heart.  i  think  what  we  had  ddefidently,  just  by   listening…even  if  i  didn't  share  my  experiences  i  still  had  a  really  rich  growth  experience,   and  still  really  felt  connected.  could  you  talk  about  age?  its  interesting…it  almost…in  my   mind…when  we  were  designing  and  conceptualizing  i  don't  feel  like  age  was  really…like  we   didn't  really  value  OR  devalue  people  based  on  their  age  so  much,  at  least  in  my  eyes,   because  at  least  for  me,  that  was  really  nice.  we  had  a  few  people  who  were  older  adults   that  didn't  have  this  attitude  of  "let  me  tell  you"  and  we  also  had  Ammars  daughter..who  to   me  just  seemed  very  wise  beyond  her  years…we  had  kaylas  daughters…like  actually   helping,  not  just  pretending..but  like  holding  doors,  asking  what  can  i  do…so  i  think  that  in   itself…the  fact  that  everybody  participated  and  shared…spoke  to  the  fact  that  people  didn't   feel  ignored  because  of  their  age…i  think  that  was  really  good…and  i  really  appreciated  all   the  artistic  skill  that  people  brought  to  the  project…because  they  really  put  some  weight.       if  stitch  were  to  carry  out  another  project  like  this,  what  would  you  offer  as  feedback   for  the  planning  crew?   I  would  say  that…speaking  back  to  the  idea  of  retaining.  the  amount  of  people  that  came  to   the  first  meeting…versus  the  people  that  stayed…we  couldn't  have  done  it  this  time,   because  there  wasn't  something  done  beforehand…but  i  think  there  has  to  be   something…maybe  more  transparency  about  the  process…and  about  what  it   produces…like  the  end  product…not  just  the  psychical  product…but  how  it  makes  people   feel  and  so  in  the  future  maybe  having,  obviously  look  at  what  we  did…and  have  people   that  were  a  part  of  it,  come  back  and  say  STAY.  i  know  you  don't  want  to  talk  but  its  so   37


important  to  the  process.  it  connects  you  in  a  way…you  can't  just  come  up  in  here  with  a   spray  can  and  have  it  mean  something….you  have  to  have  a  connection  to  it….otherwise   you're  not  going  to  take  pride  in  it.   its  a  community  art  project,  and  it  is  both  a  strange,  and  unfamiliar  concept  i  think…so   there  were  a  lot  of  people  that  wanted  to  come  and  mess  around,  do  some  art  by   themselves…which  is  cool  too…but  if  their  not  willing  to  connect  and  get  to  know   people…and  incorporate  their  ideas  and  talents…then…i  guess  they  left  because  they  didn't   want  to.  MVI_1533  and  thats  okay,  because  at  the  end  we  had  a  group  of  people  looking  to   be…changed..and  be  changed.  and  that  was  really  important…and  its  evident  in  our  mission   statement.    (photo  of  mural  statement)  it  was  cool  when  we  all  wrote  it  out…it  was  all  the   same  thing…but  we  were  all  in  different  places…and  that  was  really  powerful  thing.   another  powerful  thing…(01:12)  do  you  remember  how  excited  we  got  that  it  was  an   infinity…it  was  like…YES.  end  of  session….it  was  little  things  like  that  where…theres  no  real   reason  to  an  outsider…but  there  was  just  something  that  we  were  all  feeling…that  just   happened…and  it  fit…and  it  came  out  of  ("it  is  the  story  that  cuts  across  the  map")  (01:43)   could  you  expand  on  the  the  talking  circle  process?  (02:01)  so  it  was  really  an  honest   and  a  space  that  is  rare  because  it  was  such  a  small  group  a  lot  of  the  times  because  we  split   it  up.  so  a  couple  of  times  the  talking  circles  were  4-­‐5  of  us…and  its  so  hard…and  really   important  also  to  come  and  be  that  vulnerable  with  people  you  don't  even  know…and  i   think  that  we  defdently  experienced  the  challenges  that  you  would  expect  with   that…feeling  uncomfortable…i  know  that  for  myself  personally…there  were  things  that   were  shared  where  i  just  felt  helpless…like  thats  such  a  problem…and  i  feel   empathy…and…so  that  was  hard  dealing  with  some  of  that  stuff,  like  oh  I  probably  know   some  people,  or  have  seen  some  things  go  down  like  that,  that  sucks…and  theres  nothing  i   can  do  about  it…some  of  those  moments  where  i  personally  felt  we  lost  sight  of  the  positive   where  we're  going.  (03:33)  and  how  we  can  work  to  change  it,  and  sometimes  i  just  got   bogged  down  by  the  sadness,  and  the  stories  of  betrayal,  and  the  stories  of  pain,  the   struggles  we  shared…so  sometimes  there  were  a  couple  of  talking  circles  where  i  came   feeling  like  i  know  these  are  problems,  and  i  knew  they  were  problems,  and  it  wasn't   something  i  had  never  thought  of  before,  but  it  was  a  little  bit  disheartening,  because  it  just   felt  like  i  wanted  to  do  something,  but  i  couldn't  but  those  sessions  were  good  (04:28)   (roberto  bodeyo,  being  okay  with  feeling  uncomfortable)  i  knew  that  those  were   important  for  people  to  feel  like  they  were  actually  connecting  to  the  project,  and  other   people  knew  why  other  people  felt  connected  to  the  project  too…so…and  i  think  once  we   worked  through  them  (almost  like  family!)  it  was  nice  that  we  could  come  back  the  next   time  and  it  would  feel  like  a  fresh/new  page.  those  feelings  of  down-­‐ness,  never  stuck   around  for  too  long…and  they  were  defidently  important  to  the  process.    (05:12)  i  should   give  some  of  the  men  that  were  there  credit…  thats  where  we  lost  a  lot  of  people  that   wanted  to  be  artistic…but  not  vulnerable.  the  talking  pieces  were  good.  really  set  a  level  of   respect…and  really  keeping  up  with  the  "I"  statements  (06:10)  they  were  intense,  but  good.   38


are  there  any  other  things  you  would  like  to  share?  i  wish  we  had  more  young  people   working  on  this  project  too.  if  we  could  get  middle  high  school…i  did  expect  there  to  be   more  high  school  students  to  be  part  of  the  project,  because  there  were  so  many  open   mice…and  that  was  part  of  STITCH's  goal...     Daisy  Romero       experience  within  this  project  &  process,  things  you  liked  or  disliked   what  i  liked  about  it  the  most,  was  that  i  just  got  to  meet  more  like-­‐minded  people.  because   i  don't  think  i  had  found  those  people,  or  a  community  where  everyone  shared  similar   interests  or  wanted  to  do  something  in  a  community  together,  as  a  collective.    that  was  to   me,  enlightening.  its  hard  to  find  the  right  group  of  people  sometimes.  (trying  to  find   sense  of  belonging,  Roberto  Bedoya)  especially  when  you  are  moving  around  so  much  all   the  time.  so  when  you  get  to  it..its  like  a  relief.  to  me  that's  what  it  was.  and  as  far  as  the   process  of  the  mural,  I'm  not  an  artist…the  closest  that  i  got  to  art  was  in  high  school   (04:37)  i  took  some  classes…but  me  my  friends,  chloe  and  kayla  we  were  talking  about  it   that  same  day,  or  the  night  before  that  about  how  we  wanted  to  do  something  for  our   community.  and  how  we  were  looking  at  the  walls  and  the  businesses    in  milwaukee  on   national,  and  we  felt  something  was  missing  there…or  that…i  don't  know…there  should  be   more  that  people  could  see  or  view.  so,  i  think  the  next  day  we  ended  up  coming  to  STITCH.   it  was  the  first  open  mic,  and  we  also  found  out  about  the  mural  project…   i  can  say  when  we  did  the  circles,  and  we  had  to  share  and  use  the  talking  piece  it  was   like…i  want  to  say  therapy  also  (05:58)  (healing)  because  you  don't  really  find  that  many   people  that  you  could  just  share  your  personal  stories  with,  especially  people  that  you   don't  really  know  that  well,  so  that  to  me  was  kind  of  personal  i  think.  because  you  don't   just  sit  down  somewhere  and  just  meet  people,  and  you  decide  to  share  your  life  story  in  a   way,  so  it  was  special  to  me.  that  was  special  to  me.  and  like  i  said,  just  meeting  people  that   had  common  interests.  its  really  hard  to  find  some  people  that  just  have  those  same   interests  (06:40)       have  you  ever  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this?     as  far  as  a  mural  project,  i  have  never  been    a  part  of  it.  i  have  heard  of  true  skool  when  i   was  working  with  summer  of  peace.  i  saw  them  paint  the  mural  on  16th  and   washington…that  was  as  close  as  i  got  to  being  part  of  mural.    but  this  was  my  first  time   doing  a  mural  project.  and  I'm  glad  i  did.       what  were  your  expectations  for  this  project?     i  don't  think  i  had  any  expectations,  i  think  i  just  went  with  the  flow.  i  think  maybe   sometimes  there  was  a  lack  of  communication…   39


would  you  say  that  this  project  has  impacted  you?  &  if  so  in  what  ways?   yes  it  has  impacted  me.  because  i  got  to  meet  people,  and  i  got  to  learn  more…i  found   knowledge  here.  i  met  people  that  recommended  certain  things  or  told  me  about  certain   things  (09:10)  so  i  knew  i  wasn't  the  only  person  thinking  about  that,  i  knew  that  there  was   other  people  wanting  to  solve  a  certain  issue.  just  sharing  our  stories  when  we  did  the   circles,  you  found  somebody  else  that  was  going  through  the  same  thing,  or  the  same   situation.     what  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  worked  in,  &  do  you   think  that  they  changed?   (10:14)  the  open  mic  started  here,  and  it  was  i  think  you  could  slowly  feel  the  energy  of  the   people  that  were  in  here.  i  felt  like  on  the  south  side  when  we  came  to  aztec  ink,  versus   when  we  were  at  sweet  black  coffee,  i  felt  like  there  was  [more  energy  here],  as  the  time   went  by  both  places…you  felt  the  same  type  of  atmosphere.   -­‐rephrased  question-­‐   (11:52)  well  on  the  south  side  it  was  a  tattoo  shop,  i  liked  coming  here.  i  kind  of  tend  to   adapt  to  wherever  i  go.  and  i  have  friends  on  the  north  side  also,  so  its  not  a  whole  other   world  to  me,  because  I've  had  those  experiences…but  i  can  say  that  if  i  didn't  know,  it   would  be  different.  also,  i  didn't  even  know  (12:38)  alice's  garden  was  right  behind  that,   so…it  just  told  me  that  were  just  not  aware.  and  i  bet  a  lot  of  people  don't  know  either…as   far  as  with  what  we're  doing…a  lot  of  people  don't  realize  that  milwaukee  is   segregated…mainly  because  there  just  stuck  in  whatever  community  they  are  a  part  of   already,  and  they  don't  know  whats  out  there.  and  they  don't  want  to  go  somewhere  else,   you  can  say,  build  a  stronger  community           What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?       (13:46)  i  want  to  say  yes.  like  i  said  before  most  of  my  closest  friends  in  high  school  were   mainly  african  american,  and  thats  because  of  where  i  grew  up  from,  i  grew  up  in  an   environment  where  there  was  not  really  any  segregation…i  grew  up  in  new  york,  in  queens.   and  the  area  that  i  lived  in  was  mainly  people  from  the  carribean,  DR,  African  American,   Gayanese,  Trinidadian,  just  different  types  of  people.  (14:37)    i  was  used  to  that,  so  when  i   went  to  high  school,  the  girls  that  were  mexican  ,  and  those  that  were  black,  i  felt  like  a  lot   of  them  stuck  to  each  others  groups.  so  i  wondered,  where  do  i  fall  in?  (15:11)  my  parents   are  both  mexican,  born  in  mexico.  but  i  was  raised  in  a  different  environment.  so  to  me  its   like…for  example     40


(17:26)  most  of  the  people  in  the  project  were  women,  so  i  would  say  that  maybe  there  was   a  more  feminine  energy,  so  (17:44)  i  think  men  aren't  taught  to  express  themselves,  so  i   think  it  is  harder  for  them  to  sit  in  a  circle  and  open  up  their  personal  stories.  so  i  think  in   that  way  it  made  people  open  up  more,  or  share  their  story.    i  did  meet  older  people,  and  i   got  to  learn  from  there.  they  have  more  experience  so  they  know  more.  Ammar  he  shared   information  about  the  lack  of  funding  dealing  with  murals,  and  theres  stuff  i  didn't  know   that  there  is  a  history  to  all  of  this.  i  guess  it  was  all  a  learning  process  to  me.       if  stitch  were  to  carry  out  another  project  like  this,  what  would  you  offer  as  feedback   for  the  planning  crew?   lack  of  communication  sometimes.  not  getting  a  message  to  somebody.      this  was  also  the   first  time  for  the  mural.     when  i  started  i  was  kind  of  shy,  because  i  didn't  know  these  people,  i  didn't  know  how  to   express  myself.  or  what  to  say.  for  me  it  takes  time  to  be  able  to  do  that.  even  at  the  open   mic.    i  found  myself  writing  more  (02:18)  i  went  back  to  it.  as  well  as  art…it  made  me  see  a   different  world  (03:00)  like  there  is  people  that  are  art  oriented,  and  are  doing  something   related  with  it.  to  me  it  had  a  big  impact  in  my  life.    i  really  had  to  (04:06)  think  deep  about   what  the  question  was,  and  sometimes  the  questions  were  really  deep!  so  there  was  no  way   to  just  give  you  a  direct  answer  when  you  got  the  talking  piece.  and  then  you  have  the   option  to  pass,  i  liked  that  abut  it,  because  it  gave  me  time  to  think.  as  well  as  listen,  and  i   listened  to  somebody,  then    it  would  give  me  an  idea  of  something  i  wanted  to  share.  i  liked   the  circles,  when  we  had  to  open  up  and  listen.  i  lied  to  listen  sometimes,  more  than  talk.       what  your  thoughts  are  about  this  project  having  to  do  with  a  group  of  people  coming   together  to  do  a  mural,  but  also  it  having  a  process  of  sharing,  storytelling,  of   designing  it,  painting  it.  it  was  really  based  on  a  group  of  people,  instead  of  an  artist   telling  people  what  to  do.  was  that  something  that  you  noticed?  or  reflected  on?   (06:41)  nobody  came  and  defined  it  for  us,  said  oh  this  is  what  you  have  to  do…we  all  did  it   together,  and  we  all  shared  our  personal  stories.  like  coming  up  with  the  mission   statement,  we  all  came  up  with  it  together.  it  just  wasn't  one  person.  it  was  a  large  amount   of  people  that  did  this  mural  (07:53)  even  people  we  didn't  know,  like  at  alice's  garden   little  kids.    (so  how  does  that  make  you  feel?)  that  this  isn't  just  our  story  (08:24)  (use  for   photos  of  alice's  garden  painting)its  the  story  of  a  lot  of  people  in  milwaukee.  they  might   not  realize  it.  or  not  understand  it.  because  even  the  people  that  came  to  the  event,  they   thought  it  was  amazing,  they  had  their  opinion  about  it.  you  don't  just  go  to  a  garden  and   see  panels  of  art  as  the  center  piece.  (does  that  make  you  change  the  way  you  think  of  art  or   murals?)  yeah.  because  i  didn't  even  take  notice  of  the  art  that  we  had  in  our  city  before.  i   started  looking  at  other  murals.  until  i  would  drive  and  notice,  it  would  be  worn  out  but…   (09:50)  when  you  really  start  looking  at  them,  theres  a  story  behind  them.  thats  the  other   41


thing  with  graffiti  artists  and  people  that  work  on  murals,  that  was  another  thing  that  was   brought  to  my  attention.  i  never  really  payed  attention  to  that  and  i  didn't  know  there  were   regulations  or  laws.       Zari  Blackmon     WHAT  WAS  YOUR  EXPERIENCE  WITH  THE  STITCH  MILWAUKEE  COMMUNITY  MURAL   PROJECT?  WHAT  WERE  THE  THINGS  THAT  YOU  LIKED  OR  DISLIKED  ABOUT  IT?       I  was  introduced  to  the  STITCH  Community  Mural  Project  by  my  mentor  Tia  Richardson.    I   had  a  lot  to  learn  about  the  significance  of  Murals  and  how  to  collaborate  to  create  a   community  where  we  feel  comfortable  to  work  together.    I  like  the  space  I  had  to  share  by   passions,  concerns,  personal  stories,  and  ideas.    I  also  enjoyed  getting  to  know  people  I   otherwise  might  have  never  met,  and  coming  together  to  create  a  mural  with  a  purpose.    It   was  a  challenge  at  some  times  because  I  had  a  lot  to  learn  and  had  to  challenge  myself  to   commit  to  weekly  meeting  times.    I  am  proud  of  the  overall  experience.       HAVE  YOU  EVER  BEEN  IN  A  PROJECT  LIKE  THIS,  OR  SIMILAR  TO  THIS  ONE?       I  worked  at  Artist  Working  In  Education  were  I  was  able  to  work  with  other  aspiring  and   professional  artists  to  go  out  in  the  community  and  work  with  youth  to  learn  and  enjoy   different  forms  of  art,  but  I  have  never  worked  with  others  on  a  mural  which  gave  voice  to   the  community  about  the  topics  that  affected  us  the  most.    This  project  goes  beyond  just  an   art  project  because  it  carries  so  many  personal  stories  and  experiences  in  its  message.       DID  YOU  HAVE  ANY  EXPECTATIONS  FOR  THIS  PROJECT  BEFORE  COMING  INTO  IT?  IF   SO,  WHAT  WERE  THEY?       I  came  in  the  project  curious  about  exactly  how  the  project  was  going  to  unfold.    I  expected   to  start  sketching  and  painting  sooner,  but  then  I  realized  the  importance  of  forming  a   community  with  everyone  first,  getting  to  know  each  other  on  a  deeper  level  to  be   comfortable  enough  to  share  our  ideas  before  starting  on  the  mural.    The  mural  took  a  lot  of   work  beyond  the  sketching,  painting,  and  finding  the  location.    It  embodies  the  Mural   Crew’s  emotions,  stories,  and  strength.       WOULD  YOU  SAY  THAT  THIS  PROJECT  IMPACTED  YOU?  IF  SO,  IN  WHAT  WAYS?       Art  was  never  introduced  to  me  as  a  way  to  voice  my  opinion  about  issues  in  the   community  that  I  face.    Instead,  it  was  looked  at  by  people  around  me  as  a  way  to  past  time,   making  things  look  pretty,  and  a  way  to  express  myself.    I  knew  that  somehow,  art  was   42


important  to  me  even  though  it  wasn’t  highly  valued  by  people  around  me.    This  project   inspired  me  by  proving  that  art  is  more  than  an  activity.    This  mural  addresses  important   issues  that  our  community  faces  every  day.         It  has  impacted  me  to  the  point  where  I  incorporate  art  in  any  program  I  find  space  to  do   so.    Currently,  I’m  working  with  Public  Allies  YWCA  Racial  Justice  Program,  and   Pathfinder’s  Garden,  and  I  plan  on  incorporating  art  as  a  form  of  activism.    The  STITCH   Mural  Project  introduced  me  to  new  ways  to  do  that.                   WHAT  WERE  YOUR  PERCEPTIONS  OF  THE  TWO  SIDES  OF  THE  CITY  THAT  WE   WORKED  IN?  (SOUTH/NORTH)  DO  YOU  THINK  THEY  CHANGED  FOR  YOU  AS  THE   PROJECT  CONTINUED?       The  North  and  South  side  of  Milwaukee  seemed  like  two  different  cities  instead  of  two   different  sides  of  the  city  to  me.    As  this  project  continued,  and  as  people  form  the  North   and  South  gathered  and  built  relationships  with  each  other  through  potlucks,  meetings,   STITCH  Open  Mics,  and  other  events,  I  saw  the  North  and  South  side  as  a  community   working  together  to  vibe  together  and  reconnect.       WHAT  PERCEPTIONS  DID  YOU  HAVE  BEFORE  THIS  PROJECT  THAT  MAY  HAVE   CHANGED  THROUGHOUT  THE  PROCESS?  (EXAMPLES:  PAINTING,  TALKING  IN  A   CIRCLE)       At  the  beginning,  I  was  new  to  everything,  and  was  trying  to  figure  out  the  purpose  of  the   talking  circle.    Throughout  the  first  or  second  time,  I  appreciated  the  talking  circle  because   it  allowed  people  to  be  vulnerable  and  open  about  their  experiences  living  in  Milwaukee.    I   also  was  able  to  draw  connections  and  similarities  with  people  in  the  circle  through  the   stories  they  shared  that  I  otherwise  might  have  never  knew.       I  was  nervous  about  how  the  painting  was  going  to  turn  out  because  I’ve  never  painted  on   suck  a  large  scale  before  in  such  a  short  amount  of  time.    I  was  also  nervous  that  my   painting  skills  would  not  be  good  enough  for  the  mural  until  I  realized  that  for  all  of  us,  this   was  a  learning  experience.          

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WHAT  STITCH  SEEKS  TO  DO  IS  TO  BREAK  DOWN  DIVISIONS  OF  RACE,  SPACE,   ETHNICITY,  GENDER  &  ARTISTIC  MEDIUM.    WOULD  YOU  SAY  THAT  THIS  PROJECT   BROKE  DOWN  ANY  OF  THESE,  OR  ANY  OTHER  DIVISIONS  FOR  YOU?       This  project  broke  down  all  of  these  divisions.    Even  though  some  of  us  came  from  different   backgrounds  and  beliefs,  we  all  built  a  community  together,  and  made  this  project   successful.  It  also  allowed  the  space  for  other  people  in  the  community  to  break  those   barriers,  and  enjoy  each  other.       IS  THERE  ANYTHING  ELSE  YOU  WOULD  LIKE  TO  SHARE  ABOUT  WHAT  YOU   EXPERIENCED,  THAT  YOU  THINK  YOU  DID  NOT  SHARE  ABOVE?  PLEASE  FEEL  FREE   TO  WRITE  WHATEVER  YOU’D  LIKE.       This  ties  into  how  this  project  has  impacted  me.    I  was  struggling  with  identifying  myself  as   an  artist  because  of  the  looks  or  judgments  I  would  receive  from  strangers,  friends,  and   family  who  had  preconceived  notions  about  artists.    This  experience  allowed  me  to  be   around  successful  artists  and  people  who  accepted  artists  without  judgment.       This  is  a  quote  that  I  heard  after  the  experience,  but  as  soon  as  I  heard  it,  I  thought  about   the  STITCH  Mural  Crew:       “Artists  Are  the  Gatekeepers  of  Truth”-­‐Harry  Belafonte         Barbara  Whaley       experience  within  this  project  &  process,  things  you  liked  or  disliked   The  process  was  challenging,  difficult  and  sometimes  almost  painful  for  me.    I  guess,  to   start  with  the  talking  circles  (01:44),  i  felt  like  they  were  too  long,  or  too  many  of  them,  and   i  really  didn't  care  for  the  whole  monologue  thing.    I  would've  liked  more  interaction,   conversation,  and  back  and  forth.  I  also  would've  liked  more,  painting  from  the  beginning,   not  that  i  would  have  to  be  on  the  mural,  final  project,  but  just  to  get  out  ones  ideas,  instead   of  with  words.  And  then  the  actual  patenting  process  with  the  projecting  of  the  image,  and   the  tracing  the  image,  and  then  coloring  book  style,  filling  in….staying  within  the  lines…for   me  was  very,  and  is  very  restrictive,  and  i  feel  like  theres  no  room  for  freedom  of   expression,  and  I  felt  very  controlling,  and  i  felt  lie  there  was  one  person  in  control  of  the   entire  mural,  from  the  cool  of  the  paint  that  was  chosen.  it  was  bought  even  before  we   discussed  color,  to  the  mixing  of  the  paint,  having  it  mixed  for  me…and  told  where  to  paint   (03:56),  how  to  paint,  and  even  the  style  of  painting,  which  was  pretty  much  determined  by   the  paint  that  was  purchased,  the  colors.  There  was  no  red,  red.  And  i  often  felt  like  in  the   44


group  session,  that  my  ideas  weren't  heard.  It's  very  difficult  to  put  on  to  a  sketch  (04:36)   fully  what  i  see  in  my  head,  and  I  felt  that  a  lot  of  my  ideas  were  rejected   (end  of  MVI_0002)  *crying*  have  you  ever  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this?   (MVI_0003)  I  haven't  been  a  part  of  a  project  like  this,  I  have  worked  on  murals,  I've  done   murals  with  kid,  i  have  collaborated  on  works  with  2-­‐3  other  artists  at  a  time,  not  this   many,  and  not  in  this  way.    the  differences  would  be  in  how  the  mural  was  created,  when   working  with  kids,  you  have  to  have  a  general  idea  of  theme,  and  you  kind  of  organize  them   in  their  painting,  so  its  different  when  you  work  with  kids,  than  working  with  adults.    and   then  when  I've  collaborated  with  other  artists,  the  differences  would  be,  its  more  of  a  free   form,  back  and  forth  on  the  painting,  not  so  much  discussion  of  composition,  where  things   go.  it's  been  more  of  a  free-­‐flow  of  ideas  and  back  and  forth.   what  were  your  expectations  for  this  project?  (MVI_004)     I  guess  I  didn't  really  have  expectations,  but  if  I  did,  I  guess,  I  never  imagined  it,  the   way  it  happened.    that  wasn't  even  in  my  realm.  how  do  you  feel  about  that  then?  (01:14)   I  guess,  disappointment.    but  then  i  really  like  the  mural  and  how  its  turning  it,  i  think  its   beautiful,  and  its  still  not  done  yet.   would  you  say  that  this  project  has  impacted  you?  &  if  so  in  what  ways?   (01:38)  yeah  it  has  a  lot.  working  in  a  group  and  its  taught  me,  a  lot  about  working  with   different  personalities,  strong  personalities,  and  my  reaction  to  them,  it's  taught  me  a  lot.   sometimes  i  feel  like  I'm  not  vocal  enough,  where  maybe  its  not…maybe  I'm  not  doing  a   good  job  of  explaining  my  ideas,  or  voicing  my  opinion  (02:36)  and  it  brought  up  issues  of   like  well,  maybe  some  people  with  some  control  issues,  and  then  what  is  my  part  in  that.   because  i  don't  like  to  be  controlled,  its  a  real…interaction  between  people,  and  it  just  kind   of  opened  my  eyes  to  that.   what  were  your  perceptions  of  the  two  sides  of  the  city  that  we  worked  in,  &  do  you   think  that  they  changed?   (03:27)  i  guess  i  didn't  have  any  perceptions,  i  live  on  the  north  side,  i  drive  down  fond  du   lac,  i  used  to  drive  it  every  day  when  i  would  drive  my  daughter    to  school,  and  I've  been  on   the  south  side,  but  it  was  nice  spending  time  in  both  areas.  and  both  places  had  a  lot  to   offer,  and  a  lot  of  support  of  the  arts  in  all  aspects,  from  visual  art  to  spoken  word,  to  all  of   that,  so  its  conducive  to  what  we  wanted  to  do,  which  was  to  paint  this  mural,  and  i  thought   both  spots  were  great  for  that  to  happen   (mke  being  know  to  be  most  segregated,  and  this  project  happening)  (04:57)  I   understand  that  Milwaukee  is  the  most  segregated  city,  where  I  live  in  Sherman  Park,  its  a   pretty  diverse  neighborhood  between  white  and  black  and  then  we  have  the  orthodox   jewish  community,  so  I  would  like  to  see…and  i  like  having  that  diversity,  and  thats  one  of   the  reasons  why  i  chose  to  move  there,  i  would  like  to  see  more,  Latinos  and  Asians  come   into  the  community,  because  i  think  the  more  differences  we  have,  the  richer  we  are  in   regards  to  our  culture,  music,  all  of  that.    So,  north  side  and  south  side  (05:51)  and  bringing   those  two  communities  together,  i  thought  was  great  because  I  do  think  there  are  kind  of…a   45


lot  of  prejudices,  or  thoughts  in  peoples  head  like  "oh  the  north  side    is  dangerous  don't  go   there.  or  the  north  side  is  dangerous,  don't  go  there"  and  its  not  any  more  or  less,   dangerous,  between  the  two  sides.  There  is  problems  in  our  city,  there  are  people  shooting   people,  but  that  crime…happens  everywhere.  (END  OF  MVI_0004)   What  STITCH  seeks  to  do  is  to  break  down  divisions  of  space,  race  ethnicity,  age,   gender  and  artistic  medium,  would  you  say  that  this  project  broke  down  any  of  these,   or  any  other  divisions  for  you?  (MVI_0005)  Yeah  I  do,  I  think  it  has.    Just  by  having,  the   two  locations,  people  coming  from  both  sides  of  town,  spending  time  in  both  sides  of  town,   and  working  on  the  mural  together.  and  working  on  the  mural  together,  and  that  we  all   have  a  common  interest  in  making  this  mural  happen,  i  think  that  alone  breaks  down   barriers.  (01:07)  (could  you  speak  on  age?)  I'm  probably  one  of  the  oldest  in  the  group,   and  I  like  having  all  the  different  ages,  I  always  like  being  around  young  people,  i  feel  like   they  have  fresh  ideas  and  hope,  they're  still  young  so  things  are  still  exciting  to  them,  and   they  haven't  been  beaten  down,  and  so  i  really  enjoy  being  around  that  energy.  and  its  just   since  to  have  all  the  different  ages  represented.    (in  terms  of  gender?)  yeah,  i  think  it  did,   because  we  were  in  creating  the  mural,  people  were  sensitive  to  that,  thats  why  the  face  at   the  top  is  non-­‐gender,  or  without  a  face,  and  i  think  people  in  the  group  were  sensitive,  i   don't  think  there  was  any  issue.    (03:13)  But  there  were  points  where  there  were  the   subject  did  come  up,  where  we  were  doing  the  composition,  and  am  mar  felt  that  in  that   first  composition,  where  is  the  male  point  of  view?  where  is  the  male  represented,  and  then   for  me,  it  seemed  like  when  that  was  set,  then  it  was  devoid  of  the  feminine,  it  seemed  to  be   it  was  all    the  masculine  was  being  represented,  the  female  side  was  kind  of  taken  out  (04:01)  again,   and  thats  kind  of  why  we  have  the  feminine  looking  hand  on  this  side,  and  the  masculine   looking  hand  on  this  side,  to  get  more  of  that  balance.  (04:20)  (how  was  that  experience   for  you?)  it  was  interesting,  i  was  okay  with  it  (05:00)  i  did  want  to  see  more  of  a  balance   between  the  two,  and  i  feel  like  we  are  as  human  beings,  we  have  both  inside  of  us,  and  i   think  we  as  human  beings  ned  to  embrace  that,  both  sides.   if  stitch  were  to  carry  out  another  project  like  this,  what  would  you  offer  as  feedback   for  the  planning  crew?   (05:55)  i  would  like  to  see  more  of  a  dialogue,  more  of  a  back  and  forth  conversation.  and   more  painting  and  drawing  from  the  beginning,  to  put  those  ideas  on  something,  on   canvass  to  see  them,  and  kind  of  work  things  out  that  way,  sainted  of  just  all  verbal.  i  thin   kit  would  also  be  helpful,  like  when  we  came  up  with  that  statement,  things  kind  of  took  off   from  there,  so  having  that  statement,  that  purpose,  get  that  done  immediately  right  away  so   we  can  focus  on    where  were  going,  and  what  were  trying  to  say  in  the  mural,  and  i  think   that  would  kind  of  keep  things  moving  along.  (you  don't  think  that  with  the  talking   circles,  that  the  conversation  wasn't  getting  anywhere,  or  did  you  feel  there  is  a   disconnection  between  everything  we  talked  about  and  the  mural)  (07:20)  the  first   question,  if  milwaukee  was  a  flower,  what  would  it  be?  i  think  if  we  could've  instead  of   46


talking  and  explaining,  if  we  could've  put  that  on  paper  and  canvass  right  away,  and  then   the  second  question,  how  did  milwaukee  betray  you,  that  one….ind  of  threw  be  for  a  loop,   because  milwaukee  has't  betrayed  me.  people  have  betrayed  me.  (how  was  your   experience  listening  to  peoples  stories?  and  peoples  responses  to  them)  it  was,  some   of  it  was  hard  to  hear,  but  necessary,  and  kind  of  sad  to  hear  all  the  kind  of  experiences  of   racism,  it  just  makes  me  sad  because,  i  wish  that  didn't  exist,  because  we  are  all  human   beings.    (09:00)  i  guess  i  was  unclear  on…i  can  see  where  it  was  going,  but  yet,  then,  i  mean   it  really  wasn't  until  we  came  up  with  that  statement,  that  we  kind  of  got  down  to  the   imagery  that  we  wanted  to  use…i  just  felt  like  i  needed  that  sooner.  we  had  started  the   composition,  and  that  part  was  missing,  and  as  soon  as  we  got  that  part,  the  composition   came  together.     Any  last  words?   (11:57)  let  me  just  say  this,  because  I've  heard  it  a  couple  of  times  on  how  this  project  was   organic.  and  i  don't  feel  that  way  at  all.  for  me  personally  it  was  just  the  opposite,  which  i   touched  on  before.  but  it  wasn't  what  i  would  consider  organic.  it  was  just  very  controlled.   and  i  would  like  for  it  to  be  organic,  more  free,  and  having  more  freedom  of  expression.  and   a  lot  fothat  is  just  how  I  am,  and  how  I  paint  too.    I'm  not  that  controlled  painter.  the   positives,  seeing  everybody  work  on  it,  and  getting  people  from  the  community  involved,   even  like…right  now…the  tattoo  artists,  Royal,  working  on  the  skulls,  and  then  when  we   had  the  cookout,  and  we  started  painting  on  it,  and  to  see  the  little  kids  painting  on  it,   everybody  just  painting  on  it,  and  getting  it  started.  that  was  really  nice  to  see  too.  and  just   the  communities  coming  together,  people  from  the  south  side  coming  to  the  north  side  to   paint,  and  vice  versa.  thats  what  i  enjoyed  about  it  (14:18)    (without  mentioning  any   names,  several  people  have  used  the  word  organic,  and  everyone  will  experience   things  differently  than  the  person  sitting  next  to  them.  so  it's  interesting  to  hear   what  you  felt.  for  most  folks  it  has  been  a  liberating  process,  and  i  think  thats   also…all  of  those  people  have  also  not  experienced  a  project  like  this,  its  been  there   first  time  painting,  and  sharing  stories  in  a  circle,  and  so,  thank  you  for  sharing  your   honesty  on  how  this  project  hasn't  been  any  of  these  things  for  you.  i  wish  i  would   have  heard  this  before,  especially  for  me,  someone  that  put  this  together,  and  make   it  a  safe  space  for  everyone)    (16:00)  because  i  did  talk  to  alida  about  it,  and  there  were   things  that  were  going  on.  i  am  very  sensitive  to  other  peoples  emotions,  and  actions,  and   reactions,  and  body  language  and  all  of  that.  and  so  there  was  some  of  that  going  on,  and    at   some  point  it  was  so  kind  of  in  my  face,  i  was  kind  of  like..am  i  just  crazy,  am  i  imagining   that  this  was  just  said,  and  this  was  just  done?  (17:21)  and  i  did  not  feel  comfortable  to   bring  these  things  up  in  the  group,  and  i  don't  know,  maybe  i  should've  brought  up  to  you,  i   felt  like…i  don't  know  whats  going  on,  does  this  have  to  do  with  me.  like  i  said,  is  it  really   happening?  is  it  in  my  head?  is  it  an  issue  with  myself?  (17:58)  (i  think  we  all  carry  our   own  backpack  of  our  own  experiences,  and  sometimes  we  just  ignore,  and  keep  them   in  our  backpack  to  deal  with  them,  or  reflect  on  them,  or  even  bother  to  think  about   47


them,  do  you  think  this  space,  because  people  were  speaking  from  their  heart,   maybe  that  shook  up  things  that  you've  been  carrying?  and  maybe  its  been  the  first   time  ever  things  like  that  have  been  brought  up,  in  the  form  of  a  talking  circle,  with   people  you  don't  know,  do  you  think  it  might  be  a  layer  of  things?)       END  OF  MVI_0005    

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