MIAD students paint mural for Milwaukee Bucks
When Ladasia Bryant ’23 (Communication Design) was tapped to create a mural for the Milwaukee Bucks, she turned to her fellow students in the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s Black Leaders and Artists Coalition (BLAC). Five additional students, as well as members of BLAC’s Quilters Union, contributed to the work.
Currently on view in Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, the mural focuses on Milwaukee landmarks and weaves in elements and colors of Black History Month and basketball. Brandon Luster ’25 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts), Desharr Saddler ’24 (Product Design), Noah Teague ’25 (Communication Design), Zara Dixon ’25 (Illustration) and Jada Hendricks ’24 (NSP: Fine Arts) contributed to the mural.
Assembling such a stellar team allowed Bryant to step back and pour her energy into her role creatively directing the mural. “They wanted people from Milwaukee specifically,” says Teague, who helped Bryant to assemble students from BLAC. The team created over ten concepts and distilled their ideas into the final artwork using digital mockups, image projections and finally paint and brushes. “It opened it up for us to really be able to add our own idea of how we wanted to celebrate Black History Month,” continues Teague.
The striking mural is made up of intricate paintwork and layered collage. The team started with a flat image of the old Bucks court, the MECCA, itself pop-art piece by Robert Indiana. They added on lettering and images representing Milwaukee. Coming from a multitude of artistic styles and studies, each student contributed to every aspect of the mural. All the students worked on painting the ornate lettering, which was originally created digitally. “The kente pattern … within the letters was super difficult,” says Teague. “I spent seven hours on a Friday just working on that ‘C’!” laughs Hendricks.
Saddler additionally took on leading the design of the background. “We wanted to highlight Milwaukee landmarks and places that have or need more Black representation,” he says. From Sherman Phoenix to the Hoan bridge to the Mitchell Park Domes, the students represented a vast swath of Milwaukee. A population sign sits front and center in the mural, but viewers might look twice at it. “We changed the number to the approximate population of Black people in Milwaukee,” says Saddler.
Creating work for the Bucks, a well-known and beloved Milwaukee staple, was an incredible opportunity for the team. “I tried not to think about it,” jokes Luster. Saddler was invited to work on the mural on his birthday. “To have the opportunity to work with the Bucks and represent the city–it felt like a present in itself and I was delighted to accept the project,” he says. “I was shocked … it was a really cool opportunity for us to have,” agrees Hendricks.
Despite a short turnaround time, Saddler says the project was worth it. “The team and I knew that this would be a great portfolio piece and could lead to future opportunities as creatives … [we] emerged with a piece that we were proud of.” Teague was initially intimidated, but found that “being in the city that we’re making the art for was really cool.”
The Bucks project was Dixon’s first mural. “I’m trying to get into more community based things,” she says. “Using murals and beautifying the city is really interesting to me.”
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