In conjunction with 30 Americans, the Museum presents Wisconsin 30, a parallel exhibition featuring paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, and sculpture by thirty Wisconsin African American artists. This intergenerational exhibition presents a complementary overview of the themes of race and identity explored in 30 Americans, with a focused lens on Wisconsin.
Wisconsin 30 is organized by the Museum, in coordination with Sande Robinson, president, Milwaukee Art Museum’s African American Art Alliance, and Lynne Shumow, curator of education, Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University.
Click on an image to learn more about each artist.
David L. Anderson
(American, b. 1952)
David Anderson began displaying artistic talent at only five years old. Growing up in Milwaukee’s welfare system, Anderson was a shy child who found it easier to express himself visually than verbally. Despite his shyness, Anderson felt an overwhelming need to communicate his feelings and religious beliefs. While Anderson does not have formal training in the arts, he avoids describing himself as “self-taught,” and instead identifies as being “God-prepared.” Anderson is strong in his faith and uses his art as a way to visually express his interpretations of God’s will.
(American, b. 1965)
Marlon Banks was born in Milwaukee, after parts of his family moved from New Orleans and Mississippi in hopes of finding employment during the Great Migration. Banks began drawing at the early age of four and credits his grandmother, who created and told stylized folk tales, for his involvement in art. To him, being an artist is his reclamation of this oral storytelling tradition. Banks aspires for “Negritude” in his work, which he describes as a combination of blackness and attitude, in a way that reflects his own African American experience.
(American, b. 1966)
Reginald Baylor was only in kindergarten when his parents and teachers noticed his talent for art. Baylor attended UW-Oshkosh for sculpture, but it was through a philosophy course that Baylor developed a deep appreciation for line, a prevalent component in his work. The first artist-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel, Baylor is now one of Milwaukee’s most successful artists and an important member of its creative community. He welcomes the public to his studio in the Historic Third Ward, and through his business Plaid Tuba Holdings, LLC, he works to mentor and develop young artists.
(American, b. 1971)
Trenton Baylor juxtaposes nature with industry to create harmonious works of sculpture and furniture. From a young age, Baylor developed a love for nature through time spent helping his mother in the garden. He also developed an admiration for machines, which he attributes to many road trips to the South, in the passenger seat of his father’s semi-truck. The relationship between these experiences has become the theme of his work.
Brad Anthony Bernard
(American, b. 1967)
Brad Anthony Bernard is strongly inspired by what he calls “Authentic Blues.” His work serves to document hill country, the Delta blues, and the numerous gospel musicians that he met during the seven years he lived in Mississippi. Although many blues musicians perform internationally and are widely known, they often choose to reside close to their place of birth. In his collages, Bernard combines photocopies, wallpaper, and road signs and maps to create what emulates a patchwork quilt of geographic locations and events relevant to the musician represented.
(American, b. 1982)
Kevin Boatright’s highly textured paintings are created by a method of combining caulk with acrylic paint. The Milwaukee native considers his paintings to be neo-primitive works, through which he focuses on spontaneity and the portrayal of interior emotional and spiritual states. Boatright won Best of Show in the 2005 Riverwest Artist Association’s Annual Art Walk.
(American, b. 1959)
Blanche Brown, a native of Chicago, currently resides in Milwaukee. Through her paintings, the self-taught artist explores child’s play, believing that without a secure, nurturing environment, children lose the freedom to play, and their development short-circuits. She colors the children in her paintings red, orange, and yellow—visual indicators used in society to sound a warning. The diminished hues in the background point to the potential of a bleak and purposeless future if present conditions remain unchanged.
(American, b. 1984)
Tyanna Buie’s art serves as a way for her to reclaim the pride she lost in childhood. With a drug-addicted mother living on the streets, Buie moved between foster homes, regularly changing schools and friends. Buie is now a respected Milwaukee artist, and her work has been featured in several group and solo exhibitions. In addition, she became the first black woman to win the Mary L. Nohl Fellowship and was named an artist for the next Current Tendencies exhibition featuring area artists at the Haggerty Museum of Art.
(American, b. 1951)
Larry Chatman has been a full-time professor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design since 1966. He has exhibited his photographs nationally and internationally, and his work is included in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago. Chatman received his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University and earned his Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University.
(American, b. 1954)
Portia Cobb is a media artist who is deeply interested in the complexity of cultural identity, language, genealogy, home, and place. Cobb’s research for over ten years has been focused on her family’s deteriorating homestead in rural South Carolina.
(American, b. 1971)
As a visual artist and videographer, Jamal Currie has been the recipient of several art fellowships in Wisconsin. He has worked as a Video Technology Education Coordinator for MATA Community Media and is currently an assistant professor in MIAD’s Time-Based Media program. Currie received his MFA and BFA from the University of Southern Florida–Tampa.
Paul E. Davis
(American, b. 1963)
A multi-talented artist, author, and illustrator, Paul Davis creates paintings that often depict scenes from America in the 1940s and 1950s.
(American, b. 1977)
Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, who graduated from Harvard University with a degree in psychology, creates conceptual folk art with recycled materials. The subject matter of his assemblages is art-making itself, though sometimes his works do speak to socioeconomic issues facing the local community.
(American, b. 1983)
Mikal Floyd-Pruitt graduated from Harvard University, where he majored in filmmaking. His artwork presents visual stories that are oftentimes loosely reflective of his experiences as a hip-hop artist and lyricist. His figures are often based on photographs that he finds in magazines or comic books.
(American, b. 1988)
Vedale Hill graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2011 and was the first member of his family to finish college. His work often questions the legitimacy of status symbols across cultures and historical lines. Last fall, Vedale and his brother, Darren, established Jazale’s Art Studio, a nonprofit arts organization for children in the Riverwest area.
Sonji Yarbrough Hunt
(American, b. 1964)
Sonji Hunt is a painter who translates her perceptions of nature versus the encroachment of mankind into abstract dimensional wall stories. Hunt earned both her BFA and MFA in painting and drawing at UW-Milwaukee. She has taught drawing, painting, and mixed media at various colleges and universities. Most recently, her work has been exhibited in Missouri, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Mutope J. Johnson
(American, b. 1954)
Mutope Johnson was a graphic illustrator before becoming a fine artist. His social-realistic work is steeped in the history of blues, jazz, and hip-hop, as well as the stories and lifestyles of other artists and people. The Bronzeville Poet Studies series emerged from Johnson’s collaboration with several Milwaukee literary artists and his painting and drawing research in the graduate program at UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts.
(American, b. 1951)
Sharon Kerry-Harlon was raised in Hollywood, Florida, and was influenced by the collages of her uncle, a graphic artist and educator in Los Angeles. Sharon moved to the Midwest to attend Marquette University, where she graduated summa cum laude. In 1996 she began exhibiting her artwork in local, national, and international art and quilt shows. She was featured in the Ceres Gallery’s 2010 National Juried Exhibition in New York City, and one of her large quilts was included in the 2010 International Textile Biennial in Costa Rica.
Richard O. Lewis
(American, b. 1946)
Richard O. Lewis, PhD, writing specialist/instructor in Marquette University’s Educational Opportunity Program, delights in teaching American literature and rhetoric courses enhanced by the visual arts. Lewis’s photography celebrates diversity and beauty; his Cibachrome prints have been exhibited in Art in the Park (1988), organized by the Inner City Arts Council, in Community Artists (1996) at the Union Art Gallery, UW-Milwaukee, and at the King Drive Commons Gallery and Studio during Gallery Night in Harambee (2010). Lewis also photographs for Blessed Deliverance Missionary Baptist Church, where he worships.
(American, b. 1989)
Los Angeles–based Christopher McIntyre is a Milwaukee native and founder of CMPerceptions, Inc., a corporation that uses art and spirituality to rebuild communities. McIntyre has worked with various Boys & Girls’ Clubs and YMCAs, and is active in the Milwaukee art community, having participated in the Museum’s Kohl’s Family Sundays events and with ART Milwaukee, RedLine Milwaukee, and more.
Ras ‘Ammar Nsoroma
(American, b. 1967)
Ras ‘Ammar Nsoroma (born Kevin Wayne Tate) is well known for his murals. After studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Nsoroma returned to Wisconsin as a freelance artist, designing three-dimensional murals on the Fond du Lac Avenue overpass. Since then, Nsoroma has painted over forty murals, including pieces in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.
(American, b. 1960)
Born in Fayette, Alabama, Charly Palmer was raised in Milwaukee. He studied art and design at the American Academy of Art and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Palmer’s work is in numerous private and public collections, and has been featured in many solo shows in galleries throughout the country. Palmer was commissioned to create a poster for the 1996 Olympics and Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, and recently, was selected as the official artist for the 2013 Atlanta Jazz Festival.
(American, b. 1984)
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Sherman Pitts earned his BFA from UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts in 2009. Pitts believes there is power in mood, which he sees as the conveyor of the soul. Through his paintings, he attempts to capture his moods and give physical form to his thoughts and emotions.
(American, b. 1985)
Leslie Smith is currently an assistant professor of painting and drawing at UW-Madison. His studio practice is concentrated around visual abstraction, through which he constructs narratives about various interpersonal relationships and their everyday social situations. Smith received his BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and his MFA from Yale University School of Art. In 2009 he was awarded a summer fellowship to the American Academy in Rome.
Evelyn Patricia Terry
(American, b. 1946)
Born in Milwaukee, Evelyn Patricia Terry still calls Milwaukee home and has been professionally creating art here for over forty years. Her work is in over four hundred private and public collections, and in 2012, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Wisconsin Visual Artists, and Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters honored her with a Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award. Terry earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
(American, b. Haiti, 1952)
Babette Wainwright was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1952 and immigrated to the United States in the 1960s. She earned her MFA in ceramics from UW-Madison and is also a licensed psychotherapist. Wainwright has been honored with numerous grants and a fellowship from the Wisconsin Arts Board. In 2001, she received a NCECA Merit Award for her ceramic sculpture Low Tides, from Clay Times magazine. Wainwright is also an oil painter and a published writer.
Della Wells describes herself categorically as a self-taught folk artist. As a child, she made up stories and characters, many based on her mother’s recollections of growing up in North Carolina from the 1920s to the 1940s. Wells used these stories to escape the madness of her mother’s mental illness and her father’s rage, and eventually used them to inspire the collage art that she creates today. Wells has become a widely respected artist and has exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Currently an associate professor in the Department of Film at UW-Milwaukee, Iverson White grew up on the southeast side of Detroit, Michigan. He received his BA from Wayne State University and his MFA from the UCLA School of Film, Theater, and Television. White received the Jack Nicholson Award for screenwriting students at UCLA, as well as a Rockefeller Fellowship, an NEA grant, and the Mary L. Nohl Fellowship for individual artists, among other honors. His films have screened worldwide.
George Williams, Jr., became the first tenured African American professor in the history of Beloit College in 2004. Prior to his appointment, he spent thirteen years in advertising. Williams earned his BFA in illustration from California College of Arts, and his MFA in painting from Claremont Graduate University.