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MARNsalon II: Anne Bray

MARNsalon II: Anne Bray

Anne Bray has been working at the intersection of public space and media art as a hybrid artist and director of the nonprofit media arts organization, Freewaves.  The creativity of one and the social outreach of the other have continuously fed each other. Engagement with edgy, demanding, enlightening art by a broad public is Bray’s mission.  She connects challenging art with venues that offer the visibility, equipment and timing for prominent display with an involved viewership.

She is a visual instigator and translator.  Her specialty is finding platforms for subjects that artists find most pressing and compelling. She exhibits that work in formats that publics, often unaware of contemporary art, can comprehend without the work losing its integrity.  In her art, like in her career, she contrasts different points of view side by side.  Viewers are asked to examine themselves.  Questions are often the format.

Her artistic process expanded in 1989 when with representatives of other art groups, she co-founded Freewaves, a grassroots yet global arts organization dedicated to collecting and connecting innovative and culturally relevant independent new media from around the world (see www.freewaves.org).  Eleven biennial festivals presenting more than 3000 artists with the partnership of 125 curators and 100+ organizations have been held at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, Getty Center, Hammer Museum, on Hollywood and Chinatown streets, and have been supported by National Endowment for the Arts, MacArthur, Rockefeller, and Warhol Foundations.  Freewaves’ 21st anniversary was celebrated at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in June, 2010 with an exhibition and a launch of a book, DVD and new web archive.  A phone app of 15 shorts and curatorial quips called OUT THE WINDOW UNCENSORED launched in 2012.

Video projection is her chosen medium. Her work spectacularizes still unresolved conflicts about women and nature. She exhibits installation/performances of video, audio, flat and 3-d screens at traditional and nontraditional venues including museums, galleries, gas stations, malls, movie theaters, and department stores, as well as on TV and billboards.  She has produced public art projects with GLOW art festival in Santa Monica, Public Art Fund, NY Avant Garde Festival, LACE, CRA, Cinematexas among others, and multi-media installations at Santa Monica Museum of Art, Track 16, Pomona Museum of Art, MIT, Images du Futur in Montreal as well as Armory Center for the Arts, Foundation for Art Resources, Side Street Projects, Highways, NewTown, Civitella Ranieri, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, First Night Celebration, SkyArt Festival, University Art Museum at CSU Long Beach, Otis Art Gallery,  6th International Triennial of Art & Ecology at Umetostna Gallery, L.A. Municipal Art Gallery, Cité des Arts et Nouvelles Technologies de Montreal, Banff Center, Pacific Film Archive, Artist Space, Hayden Gallery at M.I.T. and other experimental spaces.

Purview Statement

“Looking at art, we learn about ourselves. Comparing views on art, we learn about one another. Disputing it, we shape culture. Where there is no argument there can be no consequentially meaningful art. Today, what passes for debate has occluded the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual stakes of aesthetic experience, which assumes the odor of a minor private vice. How we cope with the implications will affect what, as parties to history, we become.“  
(Art All Over        BY PETER SCHJELDAHL     THE NEW YORKER    AUGUST 7, 2014)  

No matter what format, the art that I most appreciate (1) shows that we live in a media culture that can express the personal realm if programmed to do so; (2) contradicts our commercial worldviews by being exhibited without demanding a price tag; (3) reflects technology's potential use for individual and collective benefit; (4) offers audiences a challenge in a milieu that usually associates change and difference with fear; (5) relies on trust in people's potential and treats them as creative equals in a society stratified in every other way; (6) emphasizes art as an experience rather than a commodity or luxury; (7) offers a surprise; and (8) inclines audiences to reward the artists with ample feedback.  As contradistinctive to prevailing practices as these ideals are, they can still be realized in mundane events and settings.       (1985 artist statement later printed in New Art Examiner) 

Personally I think TV could have ended racism and a few other isms. Instead TV nuzzled the gentle wave of acceptability.  Now it is our turn using the Internet. Sexism, racism and classism. how do we proceed today? Milwaukee has chosen to discuss its segregation through a series of artist and designer inspired billboards throughout the city.  I am thrilled to brainstorm options despite hating commercial media.  The interview below lays out my many arguments against Los Angeles billboards, which I am happy to ignore if billboards can be flipped into social message boards, addressing unfathomable collective problems, creating debate, dialogue and multiplicity.   I believe questions are the answers.  Art opens attitudes without dictating the change.  Art questions without telling. Art launches the change.  Lets change! 

Anne Bray
Artist and Director of Freewaves.org 
2014

View Anne Bray's interview Visual Relief in a Blank Billboard online.

Ruminations: Jennifer Johung

What are the larger cultural and political stakes of public art’s approach within specific locales via alternative media and visual imagery, and in association with urban planning, architects and designers? We can start by acknowledging the urgency and significance of understanding our social and spatial surroundings in terms of constructed, interconnected, and representable urban landscapes while remaining committed to a critique of the public sphere as open and accessible. Once we consider that the public sphere is constituted through of a number of gendered, raced, and economic exclusions, we must recognize a multiplicity of publics that address all kinds of issues that may or may not qualify as universally common or public. We can then argue for a more active role for these multiple publics and public spheres, and their transformations over time.

In turn, public art can propose new forms of public collectivity, belonging, and urban transformation, via temporary, repeated and revised gatherings, across multiple dimensions of direct and remote interactions. These practices are capable of forming potential communities and multiple yet momentary publics that are elastic and constantly capable of being realigned. This kind of social coherence attempts to unveil a temporary communion of disparate, individual experiences. The networked sites and systems through which these gatherings cohere and disintegrate offer precarious, vulnerable, and not always viably extendable moments of belonging, collectivity, potential resistance, inclusion, and acceptance.

Yet as we acknowledge the uneven distribution of accessibility alongside the possibility of communal coherence within specific spatial environments, we must also come to see how bodies depend upon one another and how the potential for belonging is opened up through these moments of dependency that are constantly being realigned and replaced. To identify, generate, support, and replace multiple and interdependent publics, we must make these temporary communions visible and legible. We must understand that it is not only what we see that is necessarily of primarily significance, but rather, that others see and they may or may not see what we see, and that these visual actions and embodied interactions unfold in spaces that may, or may not, be our own. To be a public, in public space, is to be visible, to move towards a commonality of experience, however temporary, conflicted and unresolved.

So, how can we make long-term investments in processes and structures that have the potential to turn the momentary intervention into a decisive development, or that at the very least challenge us to think of new formations of public spaces and bodies? The issue at hand is not in assuredly knowing what those possibilities may entail, but rather how we can make those ongoing investments and what that process would involve. In doing so, we must continually ask ourselves who is being defined under the banner of collectivity and how is that coherence activated and maintained, by whom, and towards what end.

Roundtable Transcript

MARNsalon II: Anne Bray
Transcript 2014-2015 Series
Saturday, September 25, 2014
Hanson Dodge Creative
220 E Buffalo St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Facilitator: Jennifer Johung
Transcription: Reece Ousey

Monica Miller
Thank you for joining us! This is on behalf of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network. And this is one portion of the MARNsalon program. So, it has two parts. We have a roundtable discussion, which is what we're attending now. And then, aside from this, we also have studio visits and critiques with artists. A few of them are here, so feel free to let everyone know when you do introductions. I really appreciate that everyone is here tonight and I'm really excited. So, Sara, do you want to take it from here?

Sara Daleiden
Just one technical thing that I want to note is that we have two big microphones in front of us. We have these intimate discussions partly so that we can actually go longer in conversation with our guest, but part of our commitment is to actually record them and then transcribe them so that the text of our conversation is available online on the MARN website afterwards. There are resources from past ones if you want to look and I think, Monica, you had people signing the waiver forms...

Monica
And if you haven't signed one yet, just try to do that before you leave.

Sara
So, I just want to give a shout out to Ted Brusubardis who is our sound master right there.

[applause]

Sara
Ted is one of my favorite sound artists. So thank you for coming! I'd like to just start by taking a deep breath. I know I kind of have to get myself here so I just want to... [breathes in unison]... so welcome. This is Hanson Dodge Studios. Before I go into a more thorough introduction with our guest, I think it would be good for us to just go around to get to know each other. This discussion is really meant to be informal, but at the same time, one of our goals is to make space to actually look at contemporary critical art issues, the relevance to the city of Milwaukee and the region but also things that we think translate to national and international dialogues as well. Well, to start, I'm just going to ask that each of you say your name and if you could just say one thing about what made you say yes to our invitation to come tonight, I think that would give us a little bit of an insight into who you are. My name is Sara Daleiden, I run an initiative here called MKE to LAX and I work with the MARNsalon committee. This program has been near and dear to my heart for a couple of years already because its been a mechanism to me, again, to actually really think about how to make in depth dialogue happen that is useful to artists and other creative thinkers around the city. So, actually the act of invitation one on one with you is a large part of what the practice is.

Evelyn Patricia Terry
My name is Evelyn Patricia Terry. I'm a professional visual artist, full time - sort of [laughs]. I want to say that I have some temporary public art pieces on Wisconsin Avenue. They will be up until the end of this month. And then they will go different places after that. What attracted me to this is that I've come once before - I think in Cynthia's space and it was interesting and something to do so you keep busy and keep your mind sharp. And because Monica asked me to do it and Monica has been helping me a lot lately.

Pamela Anderson
I'm Pamela Anderson. I'm president of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network and I haven't had the delightful ability to be to one of our salons yet this season. So, I'm really excited to be here this evening and to meet all of you and engage in dialogue. I'm also a professional full time artist and entrepreneur.

Thea Kovach
Hi, I'm Thea Kovach. I'm on the board of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network. I'm also a practicing official artist here in Milwaukee.

Sara
What attracted you to come tonight?

Thea Kovac
Oh, well I was invited! I was thrilled to be invited. I was curious to see what these are all about and I'm eager to participate if I can offer anything.

Patricia Oblitz
My name is Patricia Oblitz. I am a full time artist, activist. And I'm here because of Cynthia Henry.

Cynthia Henry
Good evening everyone. I'd like to welcome all of our guests as a member of the MARN Artist Salon. I want to say hello to Jennifer, welcome back. She was at one of our first salons. And I think you will find it a very interesting evening. Not only do I serve on the salon, I own an art gallery and I, too, am a recent winner of the Creational Trails Project. And I recently transitioned from the MARN board to our advisory board, so welcome.

Tia Richardson
My name is Tia Richardson. I'm a full time mural artist and I do residencies and I teach. I was attracted to come because Monica invited me and I love intimate discussions so that's all I have to be told. Monica and I have had conversations that I have really appreciated, and Sara, and PDF, so I wanted to come.

Claudia Mooney
Hi, I'm Claudia Mooney. I'm a curator at Chipstone. I'm part of the MARNsalon committee. And, before Chipstone, I was participating a lot in public art in different capacities so I'm really interested in hearing this conversation.

Mikal Floyd Pruitt
I'm Mikal Floyd Pruitt - musician, artist, video maker. I do a bunch of stuff. I'm just really flattered when I'm invited to something so I just always say yes.

Jenna Knapp
Hi, I'm Jenna Knapp. I recently graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in May so now I'm an artist working in Milwaukee. I think I'm excited about this because I came to a MARNsalon when I was still a student so now to have the perspective of an intimate conversation like this outside of the institution setting. It is something I'm really grateful for since I miss not being a student anymore.

Nate Pyper
My name is Nate Pyper. I'm a graphic designer. I run a dialogue series called Designers Talking, so I obviously love dialogue. I think it's really important. I think when people come to the table and it’s really heartfelt and authentic, real change happens which I love. When Monica told me about the people coming, I was like, “Oh, yes!” It just sounded really good - a good group of people.

Ghazaal Vojdani
Hi, I'm Ghazaal. I was invited by Nate. This is my first time in Milwaukee. It's been really nice meeting people here. I was doing the Designers Talk which happened yesterday and today. Today, we had a discussion about the work that I make so I'm here to hear about Milwaukee in conversation.

Reece Ousey
My name is Reece Ousey. I'm a senior at MIAD. I personally know Monica and she invited me. Besides being very interested in the dialogue, I will also be transcribing the dialogue.

Monica Miller
My name's Monica Miller. I'm the current Operations Director at MARN and I also am transitioning out from being the MARNsalon Program Coordinator. I'm also an artist, too. I'm really excited for this discussion. One, because I think that some of the topics we're going to discuss are important, but I also have a really deep interest in space and talking about things spatially - maybe even regionally as well.

Adam Carr
My name is Adam Carr, and I am an independent, and I work on projects at the intersection of community and communication. I kind of come from no particular discipline in particular and I work in a lot of disciplines or I collaborate with a lot of people from disciplines that I'm not a part of. And, a conversation like today - I'm just always really open to learning a lot and absorbing what people have to say and think and I'm very interested in this particular topic.

David Sloan
Hi, I'm David Sloan. I teach and research urban issues in Los Angeles. I'm a professor at the University of Southern California and my motivation for coming is that I've been married for the last year and a little bit to Anne Bray.

Jill Sebastian
Hi, I'm Jill Sebastian. I'm an artist and I teach at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I always say yes. I only regret saying no. But, I have to say that Monica and Annie really pursued me. This week I've been very involved in a controversy in Madison over public space that I was part of creating. The newspapers are claiming that my philosophers stones have caused prostitution, drug dealing, and homelessness. And I was like, "Wow, I didn't know I could do those things... you know now I can solve the worlds problems, just put a few stones around and have that kind of effect.” So they had to pursue me because I was totally pre-occupied this week. But, I'm very much involved in these kinds of issues and love these discussions, so I'm glad to be here.

Annie Burnett
I'm Annie Burnett. I'm currently an intern at MARN and I'm also a senior drawing major at MIAD and I'm really excited to be here since I sort of saw the process through.

Stephanie Gage
I'm Stephanie Gage. I am also a senior at MIAD - printmaking major. I am participating in MARNsalon this weekend. I'm going to have my critique tomorrow. And, I am really excited to get some context and be around all these really smart minds and participate in this dialogue.

Kayle Karbowski
I'm Kayle Karbowski. I am also a senior at MIAD, focusing mainly in video. I'm also running a gallery space in the fortress building called The Netherlands. I also have a critique tomorrow through MARNsalon and, yeah, I'm just excited to be here and meet all of you.

Nina Ghanbarzadeh
Hi, my name is Nina. I am in my second year residence at RedLine Milwaukee. My works are all about text and I use my language a lot. I wanted to be a part of this salon because I really wanted to meet new people and get involved with that. I will be having a critique tomorrow.

Portia Cobb
My name is Portia Cobb. I'm a video artist or media artist and I'm also a mentor to teens working in media. I teach at UW Milwaukee in the film department. I'm here because I actually have connection to Anne from years ago. I had a piece at LACE and LA Freewaves. So, we have a long term connection - that was over twenty-five years ago. So, I wanted to be here because I probably had read about this project in the past and the dialogue but I was never a part of it and I like to know what's going on so it’s nice to be here.

Anne Bray
And I am Anne Bray and I am an artist who's been working in this area of public and media and getting things out in public and can we - you know, how difficult of a conversation can we have in public and how nice do we have to be? How provocative? How funny? How questioning can we be? I started a video art festival in Los Angeles. It was really based around racial problems in LA and communities there - actually for communities being really separated and everyone really afraid to go to everyone else's neighborhood and it was the VHS era and we thought we could really trade videos around the city and then we started using television, radio, the web. The venues all over the city have taken the same program and trading it and, like, really what can happen in a city. And, I have to say that in LA now, the people really do go to all different neighborhoods - that you're thinking about this issue and then actually there is - change does happen. I feel like I worked with a very large group of people that there were a million factors and that the arts were one of the factors so we're excited to deal with this with your city.

Jennifer Johung
Hi, I'm Jennifer Johung. I teach contemporary art history, architectural history, up at UW Milwaukee. And, I'm here to facilitate this discussion - not necessarily to say a lot myself but just to keep the conversation going. I'm here because I was involved with MARN a couple of years ago and I had a really great experience. I was at the salon at Cynthia's gallery and it was much smaller than this, so it's great to see it grow. And then just as a writer and thinker, I've been interested in placemaking and belonging and home for a while now. I'm particularly interested as an outsider coming to Milwaukee, so I look forward to our discussion.

Sara
So, I'm actually just here to support Jennifer and Anne in their process I just want to say a couple of quick things just to frame that. Part of what I appreciate about you, Jennifer, is your ability to look at space and I think that - you know - I worked a lot with looking at West Coast perspectives in relationship to Midwestern perspectives. And I hear you navigating that, too. Like, how does the cultural framework affect space and place? So, I just really appreciate that you took on facilitating this given that strength that you have. And, Anne has been a major influence in my life for a number of years. It's been so exciting having you come here, you know. And I think anybody who knows me can appreciate things about how I run dialogue and think about culture and interact with actual locations - I would have to give Anne a large amount of credit for being a huge, I would say, trainer, but also platform for me to work through; how I want to use my voice and how I would like to look at things. Anne really taught me the art of asking questions. That question asking is actually a really gentle way to create a space to look at something critically because you can fight someone, you can focus attention, but it can be in a way what opens up as opposed to a statement that literally just kind of puts something out in front and gives you something to react to. So, it is just a different method, but for me it is something I take very seriously and have learned to cultivate even further. And I think the other thing I really value particularly with your practice is the deep listening. I always really feel like you’re listening deeply to me and that you’re bringing that into our group dialogues. But, again, it is listening to being able to figure out how you can make a suggestion or open up a way of seeing - even like you described the neighborhoods - like, what will allow for a cross-section or interactions. So, I'm grateful to you for that. But, I'm going to let Jennifer get into it with you here.

Jennifer
So, Anne and I met an hour ago and we had this major pow-wow for about half an hour. And it was really exciting because I went through her purview statement and looked through her work to see what she was doing and realized that we had a lot to talk about. So, we went through a list of main issues that you guys have been thinking about over the past few days and I thought we could start with the really big one - the really big question. When we talk about public art, public art practice, art in public spaces, you know the first thing that comes up, I guess with any practice, is who is your audience? Who and why? Which is another way to think about who's the public. We assume the public is everybody. So, in your individual practices or even just in your experiences of moving through this particular city, who is in the forefront of your mind as people you want to talk to or get into a room with you or something like that.

Anne
I think the difference between art and advertising is... one difference is that advertisers make everything targeted through a specific audience. And then artists always say, "oh, I want everyone as my main audience," and "anyone can buy my painting and listen to my song," or whatever. And to really use media to get information out. It is better to customize your plan. It is not to make a message for everybody but for inner choosing. To me, I feel like we're trying to talk about racism and segregation and we added a third term which is the idea of mistrust as another word. Maybe there are more words and that might be a good way to get this discussion going. But if you wanted to talk about any of those words with people in the Milwaukee area, who would you want to talk with about it?

Jennifer
Or who do you just find yourself talking to? Sara's mentioning space and I think one of the main things for me coming here is that all of the key words that we can brainstorm are delineated according to the lines across our city. And I realize that I have a very - I still think of myself as an outsider - I still have a very small route that I, on a daily basis, move through. And I know - I don't know I'm just picking on people - Adam, I know you have been very invested in thinking about what the city - even streets or corners are - and lots of you probably think this way.

Adam
Well yeah, I've done a few projects in public places and I think the question of audience is a really good one and I think the thing about it is when you produce something publicly in Milwaukee there's a lot of intentionality that has to go around it. Just because something is public doesn't mean that it is common or doesn't mean that it's shared by all people. Like you just mentioned, our patterns - the actual patterns that we travel in this city reinforce our boundaries as do our communication patterns. So a lot of the time if you're creating a project that exists within a certain neighborhood or exists within a certain fabric, it may not reach beyond that place unless there's a lot of intentional reach, a lot of outreach that's an engagement to broader public communities so I guess what I've always hoped to do with the work that I do in public is just provide entry points for both people within a community - both geographically defined - and then outside of that community, to a place. Because I think in Milwaukee, because our divisions are so radical sometimes and that just the act of congregating or crossing a boundary can feel kind of radical here - just having handles to pick up an experience by can just be a really wonderful gesture to make.

Cynthia
As a gallerist, what I've been seeing are these generational differences with artists where the artists of today are moving more towards social practice and very public and something as a gallerist you can't easily bring this into a gallery. So, they're moving out with all of these various messages. So, our practice of artist is changing a lot because as a gallery, I work at the commercial value and how it sells but now artists are saying they just want to be heard and seen. So, they're making the whole world their audience or at least they're trying to. But then when it comes down to how are you making a living off of this or getting it to the market place? Then it becomes a whole other animal. So, the whole intention of galleries is to sell - and that's the primary thing - for a lot of artists, that's secondary now. How can they impact the world? How can they make a difference? And make lives better?

Jennifer
That's the thing, too, I'm realizing with hearing you guys - you can have multiple different audiences that might not even be within the city - media technologies and alternative uses for media - something that Anne is really invested in. Then we have this really interesting relationship between you talking to people who are coming to the gallery or walking down the street, like right here in person, and then you're having a lot of remote interactions. Then the question would be, in terms of thinking of global audiences and whoever is going to walk into your gallery or walk down that path, how do you navigate those differences? It could be very practical ways of thinking about that tie.

Thea
I think it has to do with where do you feel you belong. I think it is really critical to all of this. What group do we feel comfortable? All of the sudden that word - you know when you say a word and it becomes a strange word - that just hit me.  So, I wonder if anyone else has a reaction to that?    

Mikal
Yeah, I think for some events that I do - and sometime they're art, sometimes they're music or they're social - I think I am trying to offer a space where many people feel they belong or maybe like minded people, I guess similar to myself, but I have to define that which I don't know what that is. I think in Milwaukee, like Adam is saying, there are all these sorts of boundaries, whether it's the idea of crossing an intersection - I find that people, even just my group of friends, are in all sorts of different pockets and all sorts of different environments and ages, races, classes. So, whatever it is that I'm attracted to about people, it's not in one thing. It's a type of person and that type of person exists in every category you put people in. So, I guess people that are interested in something new or something exciting or creative, I guess I try to offer a space for that, something creative. So if you’re interested in that then maybe this is something you'd like to come to. That's just what I try to do.

Jennifer
That's really interesting to me because to think about belonging as two different kinds of things - that there is a set, if you think of them in terms of streets or you have an area or different areas where you go along your daily patterns and that's how you establish a home base - but also you were bringing up that there can be temporary sites and this is where I think, as artists, and I don't know if we have any - I mean we're sitting at Hanson Dodge but - advertisers, urban planners, or architects, can imagine temporary meeting places that might not be there all the time and is it okay to feel like you belong, either spatially or socially, for just a night? Then the question would be, then do we want to make those investments long term? Or do we want to say it's really great to say that you can have an event here and then over here and then over here or across town.

Portia
I think there's something really evocative about the word 'belonging' and also, it's saying 'longing to be', right? So, I think that word find their way into my work and into my expression. And I've been in Milwaukee twenty-two years but I still always feel like I'm longing to be. And so sometimes that longing to be is somewhere else. And so, that's my creative struggle in my work - that my expression, a lot of the time is about the places that I long to be. But I long to bring that here, to make it a part of here, you know? To have people acknowledge it in ways I've -- sometimes in Milwaukee, I feel like the fabric of being in Milwaukee, it becomes about belonging only to Milwaukee. So, that's what I felt for twenty-two years.

Jennifer
Anybody else? - I love that; the longing - like you want, you're yearning and I like to think about it as something outside of here. Anne, do you want to talk about - I know it's been an intense few days. You've been talking about segregation for like fifteen hours --

Anne
We're calling it a racism vacation!

[laughter]

Jennifer
But as an outsider, having these intense discussions with people like you guys here today, have you -- ?

Anne
It just keeps bringing up questions, questions, questions. And, to me, the next one was this idea of tone. Like, in the discussion so far it has been, what can be said here? And I feel like every city is different as what's allowable on what topic. Yesterday, we handed out all of these verbs that were - a really wide range of them - about between people, like two people or millions of people - interactive verbs. And so, humor, cajole, and inform and educate - all of them refers to something that happens between two people. What is a tone? Do we have to be nice to talk about a really difficult topic here? If we talk about it in a provocative way, do we get people so pissed off that they turn off? Or can we joke about something as serious as this? But is joking a way to actually get into somebody that is very resistant? And, in a way, people yesterday were pushing the nice thing and that is my impression of here. People prefer nice. I'm always like 'oh, nice!' - that's my insult to somebody - 'oh, they were nice' - that's kind of the worst qualities you could have [laughter] - sorry, sorry - just a rude west coast person. But I like attack!

[laughter]

Evelyn
Okay, so, I'm coming from 'nice' because I have a sign on my door that says "be nice or leave" [laughter]. And that's because I've had a lot of confrontations and I do it all the time. And I would say that I'm not interested in being 'nice' when other people do something. I think it's time to stand up and fight against it in some kind of way. But if you're in a regular situation that you've brought yourself to, I expect people to be nice. [laughter] -- like cursing and creating some kind of climate or --

Anne
Attack?

Evelyn
Maybe not attack. I think people think when I say some things that I'm attacking. I don't think that. I think that I'm informing -- and a lot of people say they hate me, but I don't care.

Anne
Hate was on that list!

Evelyn
Basically, what I work on now because my son - he couldn't come because he had to go trick-or-treating with his kids, so I was happy that he could make that choice - I love kids, kids come first. But he has a healthy words initiative so I have spent many hours working on healthy words. And so when I see things like the discussion about segregation, I'm often like "why do they keep talking about segregation, we had that in 1940 or 1930". So, in my mind, you know - I liked the panel that I was on with Adam where we envisioned the scene and the point was that we were supposed to vision out what we wanted in front of us to happen. So, for me, even at that panel, I thought it was weird because they had a guy who actually was doing a poem and everyone loved the poem, but it was about how terrible everything was. And I said, "well that set the tone,” and the audience was like, "why don't they deal with how terrible everything is." Just talk about it. But, for envisioning the scene, I thought our - and I keep asking everyone this, weren't we supposed to talk about how we wanted it to look? Did you think that Adam?

Adam
Yeah, I mean, yes! I mean, that - kind of like many things here - it was like a lot of ideas that ended up being sort of ephemeral - you know? There was no commitment or task force or, I'm going to say "every other week, I'm going to meet for the next year to implement something" - so there were just no stakes. And that kind of is reflected a lot of times in the way that we structure conversations - that they end up being, you know, few and far between, but then not connected. And I think, too - Anne, what you're just saying - I've been thinking this a lot in my head lately and that is, Milwaukee is too small to make enemies, but our problems are far too large for us to remain friends. And I think sometimes, I'm startled by how much the psychology of this city absorbs into my own personal psychology where I have had substance abuse problems, I have deep repression and shame [laughter] - I have these fits of aggression that then get turned in on myself and then just sputter out as --

Mikal
As dance moves!

[Laughter]

Adam
As dance moves! They do sometimes. I'm sure some people have seen that before. So, I guess in some ways, our city has these crazy, toxic, psychological issues, but it's kind of one of those things - there's all these taboos or these shackles that tie our hands behind our back - or all the things that we can't make public. When we have these cool even toned conversations about segregation that are often times lead by, informed by the white perspective, it's like, "Woah! This just feels gross". And I just sit there and my insides are curdling, but then there's no - then I just go out in the hallway and then talk to someone really angrily and go back and sit down.

Evelyn
Do you get depressed out there? In the hallway?

Adam
Yeah - like despondently depressed. 

Mikal
Milwaukee, certainly has a - I don't know, like -- you know when you move into a small town and everyone is really nice and then you're wondering what's going on in the house. It's conservative and -- so, when I would go to the south, like I appreciated it in Atlanta - I used to walk to this job that I had and this one house had a confederate flag hanging from it. So I know not to go to that house! Like, alright, I can respect it's your opinion - I know it's your opinion. And here, especially as a black person you start to really - like there's a lot of undertones. So you come into the store and, "oh, hi, can I help you? It's like, you could help me by moving away, like twenty feet or something. Stop trying to follow me around. So, there's all these different layers. Having a friend growing up whose parents are racist, but you're at their house and their like "heyyy" - like, why'd you bring me here? I didn't know that your parents were like that. They'll be nice on the surface and, I don't know, I'd rather have it like the south where you don't like black people - it would be cool for me to know so I don't have to deal with you. But yeah, Adam's saying that it's too small to make enemies so there's this higher level of political thought and maneuvering in very simple interactions because you're going to run into that person at the grocery store or their kid's going to go to your school or be in your class. So, you'll run into somebody again, guaranteed. Now, if that should make you be afraid or not - but I think it makes a lot of people strategic. And then, with strategy, you start not really expressing how you really feel. And, yeah, I think it becomes pretty toxic.

Pamela
I lived down in the south. I lived in New Orleans for awhile. And after living in different parts of Wisconsin and in the Midwest, I found that to be true as well. And it was really eye-opening because I feel like we're nice up here, but we're nice, like you say, on the surface and it's a passive aggressive - you know, I've had conversations about that. And people aren't being truthful, but when you are in different parts of the south, you know exactly where - pretty much where people are coming from - even small children because I used to work at the school. And in many ways, I found it refreshing because I feel like they are at least dealing and being honest with how they feel. I didn't always agree with them but -- it was eye opening. So, I feel like that is especially in Milwaukee. I found it in the twin city area too though.

Evelyn
And I would say that - because I listen to NPR a lot - this is all over the world, so I try not to think of Milwaukee as so different from any other place. I mean, it may be to other people, but I've lived in other places, too. And I just see people and I'm always looking for nice people - and I'm not even talking about people who pretend to be nice. I really have this thing in my head every day - go out and find nice people because I need somebody to help me feel okay, not petrified everyday. I guess that would be what my tendency would be - maybe like you but I would just be petrified - I try to stay away from depressed or any of the other stuff, but petrified is easy. But I do look for 'nice' because I think that I run into enough people who are good people. There may be a trillion bad people out there. I just try to feel something like, what did they say that gives me an indication that they might be, maybe not my kind of people. And then I said maybe God made everybody for some reason and maybe it's so that I'll be on my toes about something. I mean, I do believe in all kinds of stuff. And then I don't believe in it. I'm real open to not believing in anything, you know so - [laughter] - but I do feel like looking at the world as what I want it to be, is the best way I can function and operate everything. Rather than all of the horrible things that could be happening. Milwaukee seems like any other place and I think people ought to live where they want to. I do feel that a lot of times there's - you go in the wrong direction and you just get kicked out. I get kicked out of a lot of stuff, so I feel like if that happens, you have to regroup and you confront the people and you don't care if you see them again. You don't care if they walk up on you and you have to - you know, if they did something, they should be told. I hear people do this [whispers] "do you know, what that gallery did?" And I'm just like, what did they do? Say it out loud, tell everybody! [laughter] So we don't end up in there getting it done to us - so many people are protective of people who are doing something and they think it should be kept secret when it should be known to me and I'll just go out on limb and I really try to be nice, in terms of that, but I don't think that's nice, really. I think it's deceptive like you said, people pretending. I just look for people who know how to be straight forward all the time and it's been helpful.

Anne
I was thinking about how to take the 'nice' discussion and sort of apply it to this topic and another question that's come up is the whole thing, again, with art and advertising - that to me, advertising always puts out an action strip at the end like, "buy this" as the answer to that ad and that's why I hate advertising because then, the alternative, which is ambiguity - that you're putting out a very open ended message that's purposely ambiguous and then it's really asking for a mirror of the person that's seeing it. At least, it's trying to open the conversation to what a new place that has not been, so far for that person - but that without the assumption of knowing where they are coming from and that's the difficulty. Like, I don't know if you're a complete racist or you are the most generous person in the world. So, one question for this project would be, should we be trying to focus towards an action step? Is there anything we're advocating people to do? Or, are we just trying to take their head wherever it is and just stretch it a little bit wider. In a way that 'nice' approach is buried in that thing and whether you think that we should advocate for something or just open people up?

Sara
I just wanted to say - I feel like maybe not everyone knows about the project, because I'm realizing that we didn't get to that today. Do you just want to say a quick statement about what you're referring to when you’re talking about this?

Anne
No, I want you to.

Sara
Okay.

Jill
Well, a number of things come to mind but I'm thinking about - there was a group in Milwaukee of Indian-Americans from India and they wanted to put a sculpture of Gandhi walking in Milwaukee and that became, you know - where does this thing go? And my thought was, put it on Wisconsin Avenue because that's Gandhi’s teachings. But, of course, in Milwaukee, you don't do that because part of that hidden ideological problem is the notion that - especially when it comes to public art - is that we should all agree on it, you know - the very thing that you’re saying. So, rather than let there be something that is really disruptive, that might challenge some people, and it may be only some people's opinion - some people believe in Gandhi’s teachings and other people don't, but don't put them anywhere where anybody that possibly would disagree with that would happen to stumble upon it. So, they did install it and it's over way behind the children's museum. Has anybody seen it?

[Multiple people saying they have not]

Adam
I think it's the county courthouse, you know, right in front.

Evelyn
Where's the children's museum?   

Jill
No, no, it's the children's museum, O'Donald Park, Betty Brinn - it's behind there. And I'm bringing that up just because it's a good example of - why is it in Milwaukee, we feel we all have to agree? Another thing that I would point out is, if you go to community meetings and I've been to many in many communities in Milwaukee where there will be a task force where you will get two-hundred people in a room and talk about -- well what should be the future of the Hank Aaron State Bicycle Trail or Walker's Point or, you know, Riverwest or wherever. And, inevitably, you get two-hundred people in a room like that and maybe you have twenty tables and every table comes up with what we ought to have is art and yet, we don't have much of that at all. I tend to, myself, work with very clear groups that have the courage of ownership - when I do a project that I know that up front and it makes a tremendous difference. But a piece that I did in Milwaukee at 50th and Vliet was a park - that a community came to me. Fifty block clubs had collected money in a paper bag and said, "will you do this for us?" And how can I say no? But the point that I'm making about that is that I think it's - of all the work I've done - it's something that I really stand behind and I really believe in it, but it's some place else. And what I learned in doing that piece is that there is another kind of segregation in Milwaukee and it is the art world segregation which is 'If it happens on the east side, then it's art. If it happens anywhere else -- and that's starting to change a little bit but not a lot. So then the dilemma is as an artist, do you - and there are people in the room who initiate, say, you know, here in this locale, working locally we can initiate something here. And initiating something is very different from it being enlisted - you know, as an artist - are two different postures. So, I guess, what I would finally say about this is I think speaking of some of the conversations that I have with my students, as young artists, they get really confused - should I go with the galleries? If I say that I'm a public artist, nobody's - everybody's going to be on my case all the time and I'm never going to earn a living and how do I navigate what my heart tells me to do as compared to the -- I can't say that - I can say, other cities are different, but Milwaukee tends to slam down that kind of diversity of perspective that bringing art into the public space challenges.

Patricia
I think ignorance is one of the worst problems that we have in Milwaukee particularly among the white people.

Evelyn
Particularly what?

Patricia
Among white people --

Evelyn
What about everybody else? It's the same.

Patricia
No, it isn't.

Evelyn
It is. You wanna have a fight? We can have a fight right now, that's all I'm saying.

Patricia
I think that there are a number of white people, in fact a lot of white people, that never grew up with black people, do not know what it's like inside black skin in this country especially in Milwaukee and the majority of white people are not living with black people. I grew up not knowing black people - anywhere - throughout my school, throughout my career in advertising, never until I came to Milwaukee and Cynthia Henry saw my {inaudible}.

Nate
I was just going to mention - I'm always struggling between, you know, when these dialogues happen, especially when their lead from a specific white lens, a lot of it is about trying to address that ignorance, which I think makes a lot of sense. But a part of me gets really pissed off during these discussions because I'm not really interested in trying to change people, like change - I feel like, alright you're not on the bandwagon, alright, change is going to happen without you and I'm sorry but this needs to happen regardless of if you agree or not, so it's hard for me to - I get really heated and passionate because this change needs to happen and would be really great if everyone's on board but if not, it needs to happen.

Patricia
Education has a lot to do with it, though. If you don't know it, you don't know. You need to learn. And what's happening to the minority population? It's the majority population in schools today. So, white people - I know so many white people who are terrified and they've moved out of the country -- well, two people.

Thea
There are those people who are in those countries, too.

[laughter]

Evelyn
I've got two black friends that left the country. They've moved to Australia and Paris because they don't want to live here anymore.

Mikal
I guess that, similarly to what you’re saying and something Evelyn said already - I think that the problem we're talking about  is "niceness" and so if we're talking about what that action is, like Evelyn is saying, it feels like it's time to not worry about being nice and to stand up for whatever it is. And I think that's - at least for those of us who care to make a change - there's not really much to lose, so why not. Why not speak your mind or why not more aggressively state your claim and, you know, maybe that will have the effect. You'll be able to tell by looking at people as you’re saying it - who's not with it. So, if people aren't going to be forthright, make them forthright. I just think it's a big boulder and if someone's not with you at the time, then forget it, hopefully it will have an affect on their kids.

Jill
You know, I so often hear people say, "Milwaukee's one the most segregated," or "the most segregated city" and I just was having a conversation earlier about this. I hear exactly that phrase, exactly that way, over and over again. Probably almost every day and it's getting to the point where it sounds like people are proud of it. You know what I'm saying? And the other aspect of it is because it's repeated exactly that way by so many people means we're not even looking at what that means. I know segregation in other cities has different - some people talked about it - has different qualities. Really, what is the quality of it here? And the character of it here? Just by saying that it's that for so many years is so thin that --

Claudia
And even just saying it - like we were just saying it - in that particular way, I think it's really finite. It's pretty much just saying that this is the way it is so there's no possible way for change. This is what we are and we move forward. So, we kinda need to change our language about it. Gandhi actually always talks about integration rather than segregation and trying to change the conversation that way.

Mikal
I think people have different - Adam has a joke/saying - but I think there's also preconceived notions or misconceptions of what people mean by segregation and what it would mean to get rid of segregation. I think white communities have a much different perspective of what that would mean and it's one that scares them - as opposed to what it will mean for us. And you wanna tell your joke?

Adam
Is it when a white person walks into a room full of black people, and he says "look at all the diversity in this room!"

[laughter]

Mikal
It was a different joke --

Adam
Oh --

[more laughter]

Mikal
You have a saying that when you're in a room full of black people, it is a joke. But when you're in a room full of white people its like, "ohh--".

Adam
The solution to segregation isn't white people moving into black people's neighborhoods. And when you say that around black people they're like, "Oh, that's funny! That's even funny that that's even - it's so absurd that anyone would even might think that white people moving into black neighborhoods or black people moving into white people neighborhoods is the solution." And then white audiences will typically be like, "ohhh --."

Mikal
It's not the solution, nor is it the goal. And that's what I said about misconceptions - that like, "oh, all black people want to go to River Hills" or something. Like, I don't want to go to River Hills, you know. I don't want to live in River Hills. I just don't want my area to be worse than River Hills.

Adam
I just wish that when we use the word segregation that there was an asterisk and then down where it says asterisk is "when - after the second world war and great migration from blacks from the south, they moved to Milwaukee for industrial jobs and when de-industrialization happened, there were discriminatory, intentional, real-estate practices that kept them bottled in the inner-city of Milwaukee - that has then festered for the last thirty years and that's what's super fucked up right now," - and that should actually be the asterisk that is always after segregation but when people say - like, I talked to an architect who works in the city this past week and they were like, "I've been in the black part of town lately and what happened??"

[laughter]

Adam
And I'm like, that's actually a great question to ask, but it's amazing how little that answer is broadcasted - you know, that needs an advertising campaign --

Mikal
I don't think that's clear in white neighborhoods or necessarily black neighborhoods - especially with black kids, I think there is very much a disconnect that's been fractured off of our history. You know, my parents - their sort of appreciation is, "okay, the country treats you this way, like you're lesser, but you’re not lesser, you're as important as everyone else then, you know, this is the lineage, this is why, so fight against it because you're a normal, equal human being." And I think kids now are - some of it's purposeful or whatever, everyone attributes to it - don't connect with that lineage and that history and therefore don't have a sense of self worth because they are separated from it - and not understanding what happened in this place. Stuff is like this because this happened, not stuff is like this because this is what we're like.

Portia
I wanted to insert something here because as I hear you talk about this and I talk about this with my students all the time in a class that was created - not by me, but that I teach called 'Multicultural America'. So, every time I go in that class, I feel like I'm going to battle. I'm going to battle. With my black body, I'm teaching a sea of white faces without diversity and getting them to acknowledge that they have ethnicity and to speak it. Every semester I learn something new. Somebody will sit there and be looking very white and identify as black and no one else would have known until that person was brave enough to say that they were black. But the other thing that is not being talked about is privilege That's really at the base of everything and that's what I understand all the time. When whiteness comes up, it's that whole thing about let's talk about privilege So, I mean, I've talked about my own privilege and I get them to open up - like, what is your particular privilege? What is yours? What is yours? What is yours? So that we begin there to understand that we all have some amount of privilege if they are sitting in class - that they can be there, right? But the other thing that you talk about - kids not having that or losing that sense of pride of self or whatever - because they don't have a sense of place anymore. They're displaced. So, we come back to that word of longing or belonging or longing to be. They don't have that unit. So, the choices that you can make - the privilege of saying, "I don't wanna live in River Hills" - your parents wanted you to have something better and so at one time or another, that's where professionals wanted to be because they were told that they could not be in a better neighborhood - they wanted the same things. So, when I talk to parents and I'm working with kids who are coming from many different neighborhoods here, I learned Milwaukee through parents who were coming from the central city because I was working with them and they were the activists and they were advocating for a better place for their kids to be. I always heard them say this one thing - "we want the same things" - "we want the same things as everybody else". So, they wanted that equality and that's how they framed it. So, I think that that's really kind of key - coming back into the understanding of what privilege is. And I'm learning it every time I step in that doorway. So, that's my two-cents about that.

Evelyn
Well, about privilege I wanted to say that with Scott Walker always telling black people - white people, how much privilege are you getting? Or using? You don't have it if somebody can keep taking it away from you, so it's not about, you know, privilege so much. In terms of - I like the way you said it - that everybody has some kind of privilege. When I sent my daughter to university school - and I knew she could get in because she was smart enough - she came home and said, "Why are you putting me out there? Those people are as crazy as everybody else. They just cover it up - they cover it up for everybody. And you would know that, right? Because you went to school there." So, I said, well go out there anyway because I can't stand it. I said, you have to keep going until I can stand these people. And so, she would come home every semester and say, "Can I go to Rufus King? Are you comfortable with these people yet?" and I said, nope - no, I'm not comfortable, you have to stay there and my goal was to make sure that she was able to be with any kind of person and not like me because I had gone to North Division - when I went to UWM, I was crying every day. I was like, this is too many white people [laughter]. And I felt really insecure about being there because I had not been taught to be around different types of people, but I did find out that everybody was pretty messed up - and that's why they got a lot of self help books - they didn't write them for black people - I read them all the time and they basically wrote them for white men and they weren't even thinking about women. So, it's a lot of marginalized people and that's why I know that there is something about white privilege but when Scott Walker got in office, I said that it looks like their white privilege is going away. He took away a lot of stuff.

Portia
Oh, for sure. I think that in those classes and as black students sit there, too, and are afraid to speak because they're always expected to speak. I mean, I call them out - like, how come none of the white people are speaking today? Yeah, it has come to that. And, yeah, I have everyone sitting there - black, white, other, whoever - what is your privilege? We all answered that question. And I figured that I had to do it that way because it felt like I was there to - like this was the classroom of hell and if you were white, you were burning in hell the whole semester. And if you were white and male, oh my god - it was like you were on fire. For me, I guess that question is really - and now you have all these different academic ways of talking about it. You see - I'm like, okay, this ad I'm seeing on Facebook that is the 'Fuck Racism' ad - and so I have my students look at it and it's kind of like oh, you know, they have kids with the message. The first one was about Ferguson - and, "I'm from Ferguson --" and so it's all these things about racism but it's really about micro-aggression. And so they're using these phrases that are getting people's attention because they're pushing buttons - then the last two seconds of the ad, they have adults come on and sell you a t-shirt. So the current one is about little girls talking about feminism - I don't know if you've seen that one --

Claudia
It's been trending on Facebook --

Portia
Where they're like dropping the F-bomb and they're like all impressed - look at this little girl dropping the F-bomb, you know. And then --

Mikal
Is the F-bomb 'feminism'?

Portia
They have adults come on and they're advertising a t-shirt that says "F --", what is it? Something having to do with inequality for women or something like that. But, it's like one thing after the other. They're taking this thing and then they're commodifying it and reducing the real message. And so, it's kind of like that. I have to think about it so many different ways every time it comes up.

Anne
One way that I've been thinking about it is, how do you show one image and then say something else? So, the image versus the text. And that we could pry open some new spots. And one of the questions I've been thinking about - it's like, what are people's images of racism? And whether any of them - because you could show a picture of that and then you could say something else. So you wouldn't really exactly corner somebody, but you could get some new space.

Cynthia
I was going to say, bringing this closer to home and the event that a lot of us attended yesterday and I was at the table with {inaudible} to pass out the words and everything and I go to a lot of the, quote, "racial healing clinic -- whatever it is" and sometimes I just sit back and watch because Mikal will say "well you'll run into people in the neighborhood" - no you won't. Some of those people that are sitting at the table - you won't see them until the next {inaudible}. And what I also find very interesting - if you go to any event, NAACP or some agenda talking about race, look at how the collateral is laid out on the seats. Nobody even talks it out with them. All I know is yesterday and the impression that was left with me - it was like everybody took a deep breath in the air and ran from the table [laughter] I didn't ever see them again. And, me - when I go into something -  I'm not looking for anything. I look - pretty much - I'm going to look at you like you're a person until you say something crazy to me, I'll get with you. Considering privilege, I like River Hills and Mequon - right on the border  there - so there's nothing wrong with that. But I think that generations look at things differently, but I happen to be one that lived through open housing, my parents migrated from Birmingham - as a matter of fact, I'm going back Monday to take my father back - my parents moved to Mequon to build a house, not because they wanted to be better, but as she was saying, they wanted the same quality. Plus, you could not get that kind of land at that time down in Milwaukee. And what my parents have always said is that "it's not where you live, it's how you live". Because they built a home - but then one year after they moved, my mother couldn't be with her grandfather, she had to move back and moved right back to Milwaukee, back to 11th and Capital. So, it wasn't about the place and the house, it was about her moving forward and having self-confidence - she was like, "I could buy me another house". And that's what she did. She said, I'm going to get the money and she was very -- you know that's what we looked for because when she got her degree, she said, "I'm applying for everything I got credentials for". I think we have to look at this race thing a little differently - everybody's not down and out and downtrodden - you know, all of that --

Evelyn
Or they don't have to be saved or whatever -

Cynthia
Right. So, I think we have to look at the different messages that we put out here and are - when I leave, everyone's going to be mad about this. I just wonder if there would be artist's interests in the central city if it were not for monetary grants that are coming from the city.

Tia
The one thing that I've seen, first hand, and it's a really powerful tool no matter what the conversation is - whether it's about what the facts are or anything. And my criticism of Milwaukee since we're talking about Milwaukee is a lack of this particular thing which is a space in which people can come together and safely share their personal stories and have their voices be heard and honored from the people that are in the room and have those spaces be held in a way that is sacred. So, it's one of the things that I strive to do in my work when I work with other people. And I've just seen that - I feel like a lot of our pain has to do-- speaking about Milwaukee in general and then -- there's a sidebar where I listened to this interview - and I'm forgetting the author's name now, he's a black man who wrote a book on mass incarceration - now I'm forgetting his name - I think it's Steven-- okay, I'm forgetting his name but he mentioned how - and it's not just him - but how institutionalized racism and all of the facts affect all of us, each of us, in different ways. So, it affects white people, it affects black and brown people. More often what get's talk about and publicized is the marginalized pain of black people and brown people, but the pain that white people experience in this system doesn't get voiced or talked about. So, I don't really necessarily have a face for what that looks like - or I don't hear those stories being shared - just recognizing that this system affects all of us equally so that neither one of us are to blame, per-se, but how will we hear each other and level with each other in that way. And those are the spaces that I'm missing.

Jennifer
This also goes back to the belonging and the longing in various sites - temporary or--

Tia
Yes! I was going to say that to me, place is relationship. I have thought that because I grew up in Milwaukee off and on. I can't identify with anyone particularly. I didn’t live here - as a kid - I lived here less than three years at one time. It wasn't until I was an adult that I've been here for the entire time - since 2000. So, I identify with where my relationships are - where those strong connections are that I'm making. Also, where are the spaces where we're actually building connections with each other and relationships. And those were the spaces where I have seen, first hand, actions form - or initiatives come out of the spaces that I've been a part of. We've built relationships with each other over time. And those are the spaces that I'm missing. And those are the spaces that I want to see happen more in Milwaukee.

Thea
Did you have the experience of that kind of place in another setting?

Tia
No, it's always been - no, just as an adult. I've realized that I can't identify with one place in my life - I can identify with a favorite place from childhood, like a favorite place I lived, but I was only there for three years. I didn't really have-- and I was younger, in elementary school - and so it wasn't the relationships I had there. It was just because I happened to kinda sorta like the place. So, for me -- when this whole topic of placemaking came up, it was new to me. I came across it last year and I was like, what is that? Well, for me, place is relationship.

Sara
I want to interject - because I'm always doing this whole comparison in my brain between Milwaukee and Los Angeles because I feel, really, a part of both contexts. One of the things that Milwaukee has been giving me is reminding me what a neighborhood is - it's almost like a psychological scale that's really human. It's like, to feel connected to something that is a set of blocks - knowing, you know, neighborhoods - they kind of wax and wane their exact size. But thinking about actually what's human, for me, is to have different scales of attachment active and I feel like one of the results of the challenges of the race and gender and class dynamics is I don't feel continuity between my scales of attachment. So, for example, I might feel like I have a few really close, core relationships and maybe sometimes I feel like I'm attached to something that is the scale of a city. But in a way I really have to add up - you know, its that aggregate of human relationships out for me that actually is really what makes me feel located, but also makes me feel actually like I'm in that feeling of being for myself. And so, again just out of curiosity and physically around the place making, I've been thinking a lot about not just the un-neighborhood but what are the moments when one neighborhood meets another neighborhood because that's actually again that feeling of almost a body meeting a body. And how can I make a level of investment there and what I'm making because I just feel culturally often really struggling with those moments of threshold and again an intersection across the different layers of ourselves.

Jennifer
And I'll just briefly - even though I said I was facilitating on the topic, but I'm really invested in relationships, too. In my mind, when I write about place, I write about it in terms of relationships and interactions and I've been interested in a particular kind of relationship and its one of dependency and I want to take that out of this kind of welfare topic that we've had crammed down our throat but to really just - as a word, I've been kind of obsessed with this notion that we hang on to each other, we lean on each other, to depend - to get away from this, you know, everyone is autonomous, we can figure this all out ourselves. But also to - independency, for me, I think it allows for uneven and unequal ways that people are - right? Like, you’re never going to meet on an equal plane, you know, in any place and you’re going to come with baggage and come away with things too. Like, what would happen if we just kind of accepted that we all hang on to each other in different ways and lean more heavily or someone's leaning more heavily on us. And then, in spite of that, how can we find these temporary sites for a little while --

Anne
Hanging on as relief - not torture.

Sara
Or what about leaning? It's just like a feeling of pressure without feeling like your toppling, like there's just like an admittance - a body doesn't always want to be singular. This idea of wanting to be in networks somehow together --

Jennifer
Yeah, someone's got your back or --

Portia
Or maybe another word would be interconnectivity.

Adam
And the conversation about media and advertising, though - I mean that's the exact opposite of what media and advertising is doing to us in general. It is locating you in yourself, in your needs, in your desires, in your kind of like --

Anne
Fantasies.

Adam
Yeah, fantasies! And in consumerism, indulgence and having a wonderful taste in your mouth. What you just said is a very nuanced thing. It would be great if people could understand interconnectedness, could understand emergence, could understand these kind of radical connections that we all have. But, I mean, companies like Hanson Dodge that we're sitting in right now, they're all like a lifestyle brand. They're like, "you need this really cool mountain bike and you need these really, really, really more healthy than all the other granola bars because it has all the ingredients you've never heard of in it, you know? So that's where media is really challenging and that we're so soaked and shaped by media messaging and all this kind of really directive language that's around us. So then these kinds of arguments that we should just recognize our interconnectedness - it's like, that's all good and well but they're way harder to make. I mean, that's not an ad campaign that Nike's gonna take on. Or if they do - they do actually, if you look at it. It will be like, "you're connected to the human experience". Then, at the end "Nike!". And you're like, "wow! I am really connected to -- ohhh these shoes". 

Mikal
I find advertising kind of plays off of people's insecurities frequently. I don't think it always has to, but it's like, "if you get this you'll look better," "you might stink right now, you should actually wear this instead," "you wanna be better at hooping, you should get these shoes", or "people dress like this", or you know, "oh, I probably need that to be a better person". And that's like one way that I think businesses earn profit. So, you know, Cynthia brought up, would there be all this attention on the north side of the city if there wasn't money around it? If there weren't these grants and stuff, I would say no, probably not. -- So, I guess it's how we decide to value certain things. If it's just going to be cutthroat to get money, which is sort of how most corporations work then, yeah, if you manipulate people's insecurities, they might not be better as a person but we'll make this much more. I was talking to a musician who came through. He's from California, he's traveled around the world and stuff. And he was saying that it's so nice to tour in Europe because they, regardless of how many people come to the show, you get paid a decent amount as an artist, which I didn't understand. He was saying, well it's state funded or its federally funded. And basically, showing an appreciation for culture. And, here I had an easier time booking a show in New Orleans over the phone with a stranger and getting a deal, literally, than I do with some that I've known for a year face to face and even proved my effectiveness to them. I don't how you express what the value is of these other things because I think if you’re subsidizing musicians then the bars or the venues there choose musicians that they like. So, you're more frequently getting good music. And everyone listens to music, right? Like, I could see how this would make life better, I don't know how you say that to people. Or I don't even know how you say, well if you make a little less money, life would be better or maybe there's a different way to make the same amount of money. Or how Tia was over here saying that she doesn't exactly have an image of what white people are losing or what the internal pain was. We haven't heard that shared. And I haven't really either, I don't know what that is. And to not know that also, it's hard to reassign value of things, I guess.

Tia
In listening to you talking about that, I'm realizing how - and you said it, too - the psychosis that we have or dysfunction. Like, it's very telling how we value relationships - not just here locally because, you know, it's all over the world, but since we're talking about Milwaukee - the situation as it is is very telling about how we value our relationships with each other, who we value - like, who gets to have the attention, so our relationships are in balance? And when you were talking about dysfunction and then I'm talking about this space and what I'm missing and want to create more of it's kind of like a therapy session, I like to call it that. But this space where everybody's on an even playing field and we just get to listen to one another as human beings and everybody has their own story, like we all have stories and there's a way that we function superficially in the world because it's okay to do that and we've been told its okay and we've been brought up since we were babies to -- we've been socialized that way - to function without authenticity. And I think you started out the discussion talking about -- I forget the exact words -- but you used the phrase, like, "how do we enter into authenticity?". That's very difficult here in Milwaukee. I don't know if - like, I can't speak about any other place - but, for myself, entering into authenticity with each other, with and for each other, whether I'm happy today or - I mean, not to break it down - but just from where we are, just from like where I am - and we're not about to live our lives authentically - like, it's so hard to live our lives authentically.

Cynthia
It takes money.

Tia
Right! And I like what you said, how younger artists are looking more at social and political practices, which I think is awesome, but yeah you're right, how do you - I used to ask this question, how do I monetize that? I'm less asking that question now and just more -- what I'm finding is, I think what I'm saying is there are people here in this city that are people who feel the same way and organizations that are gearing themselves toward that and I think we're a work in progress, we haven't quite hit it yet. But, I am - it's like hit or miss - I am finding spaces where this has happened, but it is very few and far between. And so, it's very few and far between, so I live modestly.

[laughs]

Anne
- authentically.

Jennifer
Yeah, so I feel like we've had - you know, for me it's always - and it's been brought up several times - it's one conversation of many and I think what I'm taking away from it, I think the challenge is to keep having the conversation with different people all the time and not just do the kind of sit down at the table, look it over and then go home and you’re like, yay! Check my, whatever, segregation box, or whatever you’re going to say. You know, for those of us in education, it becomes this endless job. So, with that, I want to thank you guys all for giving us, sharing your ideas and hoping that we can do more of just talking and listening.

Sara
So in closure, we like to do something called analogue tweeting which - just to go around - if everyone could just say a phrase or sentence about a takeaway that you wanted to have from this conversation. And part of our intention with doing that is it helps us, one, know what are some of the core subjects that we can keep developing programs and discussions around. But we also ask that something that you’re making a commitment to dialogically to take out of this room, too because I think it does take all of us taking responsibility to keep a conversation going - to learn from the discoveries that we've had tonight.

Mikal
Can I ask a question before we do that? What was the purpose of this meeting? Because she said, "thank you for sharing ideas" and I was like, what did I share them to? I didn't know if I was showing them to somebody.

Anne
Do you want to define--? I think it's, like, sort of defining the project.

Sara
Oh, well there's two layers. One of the purposes of this particular discussion which we bring in visitors - so Anne's one of our visiting critics to do a round table discussion and then we do artist critiques also, which we're doing tomorrow. But specifically, we also have an alignment with Anne being here with the Creative Alliance Milwaukee Conference yesterday which one of the focal areas was the Greater Together Campaign and just thoughts about what next steps good be particularly around - either specifically the digital billboard art project that Cam has adopted from Insight but also I think just, period, how can we get a public dialogue going around some of the -- I mean there's a lot of factual information that The Greater Together Campaign brought awareness to but maybe, for me, more importantly was just talked a lot about - it gave a platform to talk about how do we even want to get into ideas or specific ways of addressing some of these core concerns that I think are just infused in just about everything that goes on here. So, Anne's here to do this discussion, but tomorrow if you want more time with us, we actually happy to have you come at 6pm. We're going to Translator Lab which is just on Menomonee Street over here. And we're going to be working with some of the ideas that were started in a workshop yesterday but basically, again, working on the option for a digital billboard art project, but possibly it'll mutate and have other layers coming out from that, so that's what - part of what Anne's been referring to in talking tonight. But --

Anne
-- That it's - what we, I feel like, we're putting together is the priorities. Like what are ideas that people are really interested in? Who are audiences that we really want to reach? How can we reach them? Can we do an open call seeking message from different players? Can we use just digital billboards? Are there social media, radio, other mediums? How much involvement there could be and places that you see as acupuncture points in the city that could be touched on and that could relieve some pressure? And could this really grow into a big thing or is it a small thing? So the definitions are still really wide open, but I feel like the short statements that we could say in this room right now that today generated a lot of images and text ideas in me that I thought would be a good generator too.

Mikel
So you're gonna make something in Milwaukee? I'm still kind of --

Anne
I don't think I would. I think you would.

[laughter]

Mikel
I'm still wondering, am I getting paid for this at some point?

Tia
Who is we? You said we - who is the we?

Sara
So, Milwaukee Artist Resource Network is collaborating with Creative Alliance Milwaukee. Creative Alliance Milwaukee is right now taking leadership with the digital billboard art project. And, again, the Greater Together Campaign which was an initiative of the AIGA Hanson Dodge design group - there's a whole list of partners. But, again I think it's a little bit like we're just exploring how these relationships can work but the focus is again, if we made some headway with starting to have an awareness through just this one last effort of the campaign with Greater Together about how to even look at some of the segregation issues, which are, for me too, it's much broader than that word, it's also cultural and economic dynamics that are happening in this city and how do we make it more part of common language because it's happening, it's working in all the different relationships we try to have. So, that's a question of what's the next step so the idea of doing some sort of major media project that the artists can get involved in and what that looks like, again, digital billboards or otherwise is really up for grabs right now.

Mikel
I would, I just ask that because as an artist and as a black artist and I know other artists have the experience of coming to a meeting and thinking it's one thing and then it's just like giving them ideas - being what a consultant would get a higher rate for and then, someone else does it and gets paid to do it. Why did I tell you anything? I thought for sharing a good idea, it being clear that I would be included in the process and more importantly, the money. You know, so -- there was a word earlier, a word of distrust. And for me that's been an experience as an artist in Milwaukee where I distrust intentions and stuff. I trust enough people in this room that I'm fine being here, you know, and feel comfortable saying this even, but --

Sara
Well, I love talking about labor compensation for artists so I appreciate that you’re bringing it up and maybe again, there's a few layers overlapping ambiguously but I think that it's a productive ambiguity but just to be clear. This particular evening is a program with the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network called MARNsalon where the goal is to bring in a guest critic, so that we can actually have a critical dialogue around contemporary art topics, but as you can see tonight, contemporary art topics are usually really linked to contemporary cultural topics. And we're often just looking - sometimes just having a visitor with us gives us a lens to look at - a framework even to look at what's going on in this city. So, in that way, I'm really grateful that you participated, that all of you participated. I think our goal is just to fuel critical dialogue here. Our hope is always that this can resonate out - artists getting together and looking at some of these issues together and knowing what it feels like to go along on concept - that's part of the intention of the program.

Anne
What I feel like is, here, it was a night of trying to help to define what the open call would be so it would have - so we could say, the digital billboard and send your proposal by this date and this will be the compensation for the selected projects so it isn't like gathering ideas tonight and then going and doing them and ripping you off.

Jennifer
And I'll say from my perspective, I didn't even know about the digital project. I'm just invested in getting people to talk and meeting people - like I don't know most of you people and I came in and I was like, Sara I know you, you know. And so - and that may be probably because I'm dumb - you know, I don't know what. But, I'll say for me personally this is really worth while - getting chairs and moving tables and, you know, setting up. It's nice because it's not like I got students that are enrolled in the course and it's a requirement that they have to listen to me. It's like you guys chose to come here - that is for me why I keep coming back.

Sara
Thank you for saying that.

Portia
But I think what he's saying is very real and I think I expressed it at the dinner table the other evening - is that, if there's segregation it is expressed in these different ways. And that as artists we can feel separate or, yeah, you don't feel like you’re getting the full story all the time. Or, you know, initiatives like that, I had no clue about - I don't know about a lot of things in the community concerning all artists, you’re supposed to include all of them. And so, again, that whole discussion of privilege comes up again because then you have to kind of sort out, well who gets the information and why is it always this particular demographic and not the other?

Anne
- What core groups.

Portia
Yeah. So, I mean, those are the big questions here.

Sara
Yeah and I think coming from my framework in Los Angeles is probably why I make an investment in the Milwaukee Artists Resource Network and I know the concept of a network sometimes is really abstract and maybe hard to relate to, but, it's honestly for me it's partly about labor organizing as artists are better connected to each other in talking and sharing some of this, in sharing experience bases - that that's a strength for market reasons, but it's also I think - you know, I really appreciate what you’re saying about it, Jennifer, that for me it's just a core instinct to just make alignment work happen because that's where some of the intersections and discoveries can come up because we're just literally looking at each other and giving some time and space to that process, so--

Adam
One of the original topics, or one of the few, is segregation disparity, racism and mistrust. And mistrust is not anyone’s fault for feeling this mistrust, the city has earned it, you know, so - [laughter] I think its - I always love when someone - I don't have enough courage to say what Mikal just said so I'm glad you said it.

Mikal
You gave me the courage, Adam.

Adam
Cool.

Evelyn
But you know what I do, I still say it all the time, do we get paid for this? You know, why don't we get paid? If other people are being paid, I always have to say to that, that's because I'm sixty-eight and somebody else always gets more money. And even if I'm in something with them, then it comes down to I'm reading the paper, we're all in the same process, these two got more money and why didn't I get more money, so when I ask them why didn't I get more money they say well those people are from... New York! That's why they got more money, but they had all gotten more money according to the statement - the, what do you call it, perspectives - they had all gotten that money. So, for me, everything, I'm a professional artist in getting other people to teach them about being professional, I don't really care about racism, I don't care how many racists there are, I'm racist, you know, when my children both married white people, I was like, are you crazy? [laughter] Have you lost your minds? And then when my daughter did it, I was really - because I said you’re a really nice person, how could you marry a white person? You know, I was really upset. So, we talked about it for like an hour and she finally said, look, I said you had three black men and they all had - they looked good on paper [laughter]. They had degrees, they had good positions, they looked good on paper. Why couldn't you just try to look one more time for another, another black man? And she finally said to me because I said a lot of things that I can't even tell you in this room, I said so much - and my daughter finally said to me, "look, you don't have to come" - she was living in LA - she said, "you don't have to come out here, I've made this decision, this is what I'm going to do, you don't have to come here". And I said, oh I really like her, I love that child, so I said, give me a year, if you’re still with the guy after a year, I'll meet him. So, after a year, she was still with him and so we agreed to meet and I actually loved him and in terms of white privilege, what we start doing is, look, you’re white, can you go over there and make those people stop what they're doing? [laughter] At first, he used to say, "I don't like doing that". I said, no, you are white, can you call these people and get me a better deal? [laughter] And he would actually do it, so I think if people are sincere about wanting to be with other people, work with them, proved access, you know.

Anne
Lean a little.

Evelyn
Yeah, you open up and let other people in when what you perceive as us not being able to get in, which I perceive because a lot of black people don't let people in either. They're always trying to get in better positions with the power.

Cynthia
I'd like to ask Anne because she is, you know, our guest and I'd like to know what her impressions are about Milwaukee and the audiences. And I'll say this, I'm looking forward to seeing what she is gonna do. I mean really, with you being here, I would like to know --

Anne
Oh, I've been here two days!

Evelyn
Right, and that's a very narrow audience.

Cynthia
Right and I wanna know the truth.

Anne
Yeah, I just think this evening was a great discussion and I really appreciated everyone’s  honesty in saying all kinds of things and I think it could - you know, I do picture it becoming a major project and that it could really have a discussion that opens up in the city and that it could be amazing.

Sara
So that's a good analogue tweet! You mind if we go around quick because I just wanna make sure we have a little bit from everybody. Do you feel comfortable going next?

Sherry
Sure. Well, I would just say the thing that I liked was Tia's idea about creating a space where people can be authentic and tell their stories and share. And where there's really no judgment, but just listening, so yeah.

Portia
I like the idea of bringing Anne here because it, to me, reminded me of being not in L.A. but having my work shown in another place and that she is creating an idea that I would hear about my work shown in other places because it was a part of this sort of new way of distribution and it took off because of that and so if we had some - if that's the intent of what's going to happen with the billboard idea and the work that she's doing and connecting with us and looking at art, I think that that would be really healthy for Milwaukee - to take it out of a one context and put it somewhere else.

Nina
There are so many things in my head right now. I wanted to stay silent and just listen to all of you because I'm new to public art and this project in general, but I would like to say something about - you mentioned privilege. I would like to say to all of you whether their white or black or colored skin or immigrants, whatever your background. The one privilege that all of you have and you may not know is the freedom of speech. Because I'm coming from a country that it would not be possible to put your finger on a very sensitive issue like segregation because its a social problem that we have in Milwaukee. It would not be possible to have this conversation in my country. And you are not taking advantage and you don't know the value of this privilege that you have whether you’re black or white or from LA or from Milwaukee. We don't have that privilege in my country. And I would not be willing to participate in a group like this in my country not knowing anyone because all of you are strangers to me and I'm a stranger to all of you. I know all of you are professional in your careers but I don't know your backgrounds so in my country --

Portia
That would be risky, that would be dangerous.

Nina
Very, very risky.

Evelyn
What country?

Nina
I'm from Iran. So, I moved here thirteen years ago and I'm a different person because I lived here for more than a decade and because I have the privilege of going back and forth, comparing these two very different countries and cultures. So, I'm looking at these problems - segregation - under discussion from another perspective. I don't know if this is right or wrong but this is what I think about it - and all of you would talk about having this enemy that prevents you from creating this public art in Milwaukee and when I heard the word enemy - if it was in my country - I would give you a list of enemies to artists. But I think the only enemy that you have, as artists or as Milwaukeeans is you, yourself. Because you know that we have problem and it's much much deeper than what we talk about and we know about because we are not educated - we don't know what it is to be a black person - I don't have that experience, so how can I even put a solution on that, because I have not lived that life, right? So I think I really am adamant about educating people because one of the reasons that people have fear about anything is not knowing. If you know about the person, your white son-in-law, you like him now because you got educated and you sit down and you like. It's just when you say the word muslims and that's me, that's my religion, people say, "woah". But people have no education so I'm really adamant that education is the key, but I think your enemy is just yourselves because you have the privilege of creating art, freely speaking these ideas about very sensitive issues in your city. You have the freedom of creating this art. If some people - I think you mentioned that - if some people are not agreeing, that's okay because you are believing in this idea that this is wrong what's happening in this city, right? So if you are really believing this is a really genuine idea, why not put all your efforts and whatever resources that you have and create this public art? I think you have this privilege.

Kayle
Well now I have to follow that up. [laughter] I guess that - yeah, so you know I'm still in school and I feel often that I'm sort of this human out in space, tethered to a space ship being dragged through this meteor shower of things constantly happening. Because of that, I sort of have to grab on to what I can to keep going with those things. And the topics that we talked about tonight are super important to me and I don't make time for that in my life often and I feel really guilty about it. So, it's really great just to be able to remind myself that that is important to me and I should spend more time with these things, so yeah.

Stephanie
I think just for me I'm a student still as well and I'm kind of in the same way - as Kayle was saying - just absorbing all these different ideas and there are so many things brought to the table tonight which I think is awesome, but looking at the kind of macro-ideas that I am going to take away from this I think, you were saying we should point out - just, basically, this idea of a relationship to space and the idea of belonging and longing to be, as well as being able to share a space and live authentically within that space. I think those macro-concepts are going to be what I take away from tonight.

Annie
I think - well I think I heard someone say that Milwaukee is a city of empty promises and I've been thinking about that quite a bit especially tonight - and there just hasn't been enough change and I think I'm just really excited about this conversation that was happening in terms of that thought that there isn't a lot of change and there are a lot of empty promises and talking about changing language and how language is approached in terms of the city I find really exciting.

David
Lot's of really great stuff, it's a very sweet conversation from my perspective. The thing that strikes me is sort of a continuing thread throughout is your question of what is nice - does being nice make it impossible to be authentic?

Anne
You could be nice and authentic.

Adam
I often times kind of bristle at being called an artist or ever calling myself an artist but if this is what the conversation was like in art in Milwaukee, I'd gladly call myself an artist. So, I'm really happy that MARN and Anne and everyone else involved in bringing this conversation to - I don't know, we're sitting in the Third Ward, it's a group of artists that sat down and had this conversation, I just want to acknowledge that, in my opinion, is something really good. And, yeah, I would definitely be an artist if this was the conversation.

Monica
I think something that was really great for me was hearing Tia speak about place and being in a relationship with it and I wonder, continuing with everything that's been shared tonight, thinking about if everyone could feel that sense of ownership for space and that's something that I learned from Sara actually a couple of years ago and ever since then I've just been embracing space so much and then I wonder that with discussions like this we can come in and share our own relationships to the same place and then sort of build upon that in ourselves.

Reece
So I'm just going to reiterate something that Adam said - that I just really like this line and I think I'm probably going to be quoting it for a while - that Milwaukee is far too small to make enemies and far too big to make friends and I think that's extremely accurate and just so succinct.

Ghazaal
I have to say that just listening to everybody and obviously everyone is really talking about Milwaukee and segregation in Milwaukee, I really believe that if you think that it's Milwaukee that is that way or more than other states or other countries, it's definitely not true. I think it's the same everywhere. I think all different countries or different states are dealing with it differently and I think it's obviously a different culture and I grew up in England and England, I think is one of the most racist countries. They are just very polite and people don't - I don't think it's discussed as much - however you’re talking about the niceness, which is something that coming from Europe to America, I've - straight away - is something I've felt and you definitely feel this, I don't think it's Milwaukee either, I think - I've been in New Haven, I've been living in New York - I feel this, on the surface, niceness, which I really believe doesn't get anybody anywhere, I think people have to be straight to the point, like why are we wasting time? Why are people wasting time being nice about things? Because it’s just like polishing a turd, basically, I think that's what it is. And I guess it's a cultural thing, but it's really a waste of time.

Nate
I'm just really encouraged to be in a room with people talking about these issues and not just talking about these issues because I feel like Milwaukee is a city obsessed with buzzwords and lists and just the surface of a lot of these issues. And I feel like dialogues talking about these things are kind of a dime a dozen, in a way it isn't productive all the time and so I'm encouraged to be in a room full of people who clearly are very serious about taking this outside after this - really giving ourselves homework and giving each other homework and actually going out and doing stuff. what I hope these conversations can turn into is that they become - is that we become so familiar and so intimate that we can hear what each other is passionate about and understand what each other's strengths and interests are and be able to give really specific homework to each other and even practical - I see you’re passionate about these things and these are the gifts that you have and these are your interests, here's a way that I see from the outside that you can combine those things and actively enact change, so I hope that that's something that happens.

Jenna
This has been an awesome time to reflect on sort of some parallels that have been happening in my own life since graduating six months ago. I think I’ve been trying to fill the void of school with other things and I noticed that I wasn't making as much and I wasn't on this heavy production schedule that school requires, but I was thinking and in this constant state of research and when Ferguson happened, I just had this fire and I couldn't just sit anymore and think about it, I had to go and participate in the some of the rallies that started in Milwaukee as far as standing in solidarity in Ferguson and that evolved into getting to know a lot of stories of people that have been influenced by police brutality in Milwaukee and specifically the Dontre Hamilton case and that was two months ago when I went to that first rally and it's like I've just been taking this in and I really enjoyed Tia's comment about this relationship to space because every time we meet for those rallies, we go to Red Arrow Park which is ground zero. Dontre Hamilton was killed six months ago - fourteen bullets for sleeping in the park - and it has brought this intense energy to that space and it's in the center of downtown and to use that as this momentum is really powerful to me and I guess it doesn't matter to me that I've been in this state of production, but that research and that taking in and talking to people and being in relationship to space and the people that come to there because they have this fire for just showing up and just trying to understand and learn is beautiful. Talking about media in space and relationship to that - these are all just really really relevant tonight and I'm grateful to hear everyone's perspective on it.

Mikal
Although I talked a lot, I don't really have anything additional to say. Hashtag: "polished turd"?

[laughter]

Claudia
There are two points that I really loved in particular. I really loved Portia's idea of not just belonging, but longing to be. It is a very different even though it's the same word - a very different way of thinking about it. And then Nate, when you were talking about, why do we just wait for people to agree instead of just acting? And that's something that bothers me a lot, too. I always have conversations that just keep going around and around and around and nothing comes of it - you just talk and talk and talk. So, the idea of actually doing something - let's go out and do something.

Tia
Mine was in hearing the reflection from you about the collective privilege that all of us possess, so that struck me. And then, polishing the turd struck me - I love that. At first I thought you said, punishing the turd [laughter] - which is still cool. I liked Nate's mention of how, you know, the same thing you said, which is why I put my energy where I want to see things grow and not in trying to get everybody to agree. And then in what you said about holding each other accountable, which can only happen when you've truly been heard - or at least I want to be held accountable by folks who truly heard me, not by what you think I thought I said. I think that was it - those were my nuggets.

Cynthia
Well, all I'm gonna say is I never thought I'd be quoting Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King and Reggie. "Can we keep hope alive?" and "I have the dream" and I'm really encouraged by the younger generation so I have a lot of hope. And so I put all my faith in you because I am from that generation, I have my privilege and I'm gonna keep it and if you get in my way - and I'm going to be, I'm nice to everybody - but I'm hopeful for these guys.

Patricia
I think what resonated the most with me was authenticity and telling our stories. That is what normalizes you no matter what you look like, no matter where you’re from. Everybody has a human story. We all have ups, we all have downs, we all get hurt, we all love, we have joy, we have all the gamut of human feelings. So by telling stories, I think is crucial. And in that way you learn to be authentic because if someone's authentic to you, you kind of - it draws you out.

Thea
Someone brought up the idea of what is white people’s pain, what is black people’s pain? And I'm just wondering what is the color of pain? And by telling our stories we may understand a little bit about that and be able to visualize, colorize, and, you know, value. I always wondered why the black, white scale was called "value". But anyway, maybe it's something like this. So I was just thinking in terms of space, we all have a space in ourselves that feels pain somewhere, but I think what we try to - often what we try to do is decrease the size of that space so that we just don't feel that - it's not fun to feel any kind of pain or discomfort or shame or guilt or whatever it might be. But what is that space like? How big is it for each individual person? And what is the shape of it, what is it colored?

Pamela
There's been a lot of powerful conversation here tonight and it's something that is very important to me. I grew up watching the civil rights movement in the sixties - and reading about it. So, when I read and heard about what's going on in Ferguson, it brought it all back. And -- I don't know why I'm getting so emotional -- so I've been involved in Greater Together conversations which has been awesome. So, don't assume - because I like what Thea just said, I like what everyone just said. You can't assume. You don't know stories. We all need to listen and talk. -- I don't usually cry.

Evelyn
That's your privilege. It's your privilege to cry. I really don't have anything to say. I just hope everybody goes away and does something.

Sara
Wow, MARNsalon is one of my favorite things I get to do in Milwaukee. I wanted to shout out to Monica who's been someone who's been working with me closely for-- [applause] And, you know, when I use the word artist, I also have a background of thinking of myself as an artist and that's evolved for me a lot, so thank you for bringing that up Adam. Because, really to me, artist is just a diving board to really talk about being a cultural producer. We all make choices all the time about what this culture is and what it can become and we can critique it together. And I think that's our core intention - I always want to empower artists more because I feel like when artists, one, have livable wages and two, actually again feel like they have an opportunity and a reinforcement to use their skills to speak - that's when the culture actually has a movement to it for me. But I just want to note that we actually - one of the goals of MARNsalon is we think very carefully when we do even the grouping, but how do we at least get a group together that represents what this city actually is, so how do we think about different ages? How do we think about different kinds of cultural representation - whether you think of yourself through gender, class or race or ethnicity or, again, as artists, what medium, what ways of communicating do you tend towards? Even though it's just again about getting range and letting the range intersect each other and so tonight, I really feel - I just was listening deeply - it's one of my favorite things to do, but it's just a wonderful moment for me, I think, in this program and with this organization, but also I would just say - for me being here in Milwaukee - to realize that there's something effervescing, you know, that these kind of conversations or just make a concentrated effort to make space for this. I mean, again, I think we can draw it out of each other. So, again, I just want to encourage each of us to take some responsibility and you each, you know, focused on something specifically that was resonant for you, but how do you make a commitment to get to know each other more and keep it going or to find other points of contact in your life that you can explore this with and just know that, again, that you can always talk with me or Monica or Pamela and even our committee members - we're just always willing to hear how we can build more programs and do this - to just make something relevant, you know, and to keep iterating and to fail sometimes and just keep looking for where that connection is. And that was a little bit more than a tweet, but I just want to make sure, if you had anything else you wanted to add.

Jennifer
I'll just end with you. For me it's just listening and not having an agenda or, like, know you have to get to this certain place at the end of the conversation or have this sort of solution - it was great for me to just sort of ride where you guys wanted to talk about. I never get to do that, so it was fun.

Sara
So, again, I just want to give props to my mentor Anne Bray for coming out [applause] And thank you again to Jennifer for just leading us in discussion. So, again, tomorrow night, if you’re interested, we're going to talk some more specifically about the digital billboard art project. That's going to be at 6:00pm at Translator Lab on Menominee --

Anne
Where is that?

Sara
It's right here on Menomonee - oh, 514 Menomonee. I'm not a numbers person, but I can talk to you afterwards - it's right around the corner. But, my point being, if for some reason you can't make that, you can get in touch with us because we're in the process of feeling it out and Anne's just here as a point of inspiration in a place of provocation for us really, we're just starting the process and I welcome - if any of you are interested, either in - again, this is really about at some level what getting into what media representation can be, specifically looking at some of the concepts and facts that came out of the Greater Together campaign.

Cynthia
I just wanted to share something with the group. I often times go out of town to get inspiration and especially support as an African American gallery owner. So I'm connected with a group in Chicago - not in Chicago - many in Chicago but most recently St. Louis - I've been connected with the St. Louis African American Arts Alliance - a gallery for a few years now. They have a project that's called "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" where they did a juried - across the country - art exhibit and they have, like, two-hundred-and-fifty different artists showing in fourteen different exhibits. So, in other cities they can come together and things can get done and the project has gone national. You know, I've been meeting people in Chicago and hopefully, I'll be able to take a group to St. Louis to see this, but I would encourage you all - they're on the internet, it's called "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" and I think you'll find it fabulous and it really tells how people feel - and especially young people, although there were entries from, you know - it wasn't about race or color - but the majority of the artists are African-American, but I think it will give people insight into the way that people are feeling about these shooting and how we can become activists and really make a change and it's really all about being inclusive, too, for the most part. And I think that's one of the core things that's missing in Milwaukee, for sure. And I got a national reputation to go along with it.