André Saint-Louis: Neighborhood markers and partnership
After two years of planning and work, André Saint-Louis ’01 (Sculpture) and Brandon Minga ’04 (Illustration) have finished a monumental public sculpture project for Milwaukee’s Near West Side neighborhood. The last four of the seven neighborhood markers will be installed in different Near West Side communities at the end of the month, thanks to a U.S. Department of Housing and Development Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant awarded to the Near West Side Partners to bring revitalization elements to the neighborhood.
Saint-Louis and Minga originally won the bid for the project in 2020 and have since weathered challenges ranging from COVID-related metal and paint shortages to moving into a new studio space, but the creatives finished production of the final sculptures this December 2022. The markers, intended to showcase the unique history of each neighborhood in the Near West Side, were selected and planned by a committee that included residents of the neighborhood. “We went back to each one of those communities and did research on the history… culture, some of the architectural references, and then we took a lot of those elements and incorporated them into the design,” explains Saint-Louis.
“It’s always fun to work with the community,” Saint-Louis continues. “…it was great to hear insight, the logistics of where they thought [the markers] should be… It helps reassure you that you’re on the right path, as well as helps guide you to what the path should be.” All the markers feature intricate metalwork, community-specific elements, striking colors and text providing a basic overview of neighborhood history written by a Marquette University graduate student. Saint-Louis hopes the markers will eventually become a landmark that residents can feel proud of, “like a homecoming kind of feel.”
Although Saint-Louis and Minga have collaborated before, this is the first large-scale project they have completed together. Minga, who founded the creative and collaborative House of RAD (Resident Artist Doers) in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, works with 33 local artists in the space, including Saint-Louis. “It brings a lot of unique flavor and talent together which is fun,” says Saint-Louis. “…it really keeps the juices flowing of being inspired by other people’s work, as well as other crafts. The things that you might not have had access to anywhere else.” During the neighborhood markers project, Saint-Louis appreciated how both creatives played to their strengths: Minga enjoys hand-bending and torching metal, while Saint-Louis tackled the jig setups and structural elements.
As a student at MIAD, Saint-Louis developed his understanding of the resources and connections he could build with other artists and creatives. “Having that experience and understanding how you can team together and bring those projects to life that sometimes are daunting to imagine by yourself” was foundational to completing the neighborhood markers project, he says. He also credits Professor Emerita Jill Sebastian with guiding his experience in public sculpture, from community involvement to submitting bids.
In the 50th anniversary year at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), the college presents “Growing Resistance: Untold Stories of Milwaukee’s Community Guardians,” an exhibition in the Brooks Stevens Gallery running January 8 – March 2, 2024. Related programs include zine making, a book club, student-guided tours and a story circle with community partners.
Eye-opening and awe-inspiring: this is how Nirmal Raja ’08 (Painting) describes learning to work with liquid metal. The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) alum recently completed the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/Industry Residency in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Dale Shidler, Professor of Communication Design, received the January 2024 MIAD Values Recognition Award at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). Dale’s nominations highlighted his embodiment of MIAD’s Core Values, especially Integrity, Kindness and Community.
Four Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) community members will contribute to the first floor of the new ThriveOn King community hub on North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. They make up part of the 20 Milwaukee artists who will convey the history and heritage of Bronzeville in this collaborative space.
The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) Board of Trustees welcomed two new members at their January 2024 meeting. Dr. Daniel A. Schroeder, co-founder and president/CEO of Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC), and Noah Stone, reference librarian and circulation assistant at North Shore Public Library, joined MIAD’s Board.