Telling the Story of Bronzeville Milwaukee
ThriveOn King – a new community hub being developed on North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF), the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), and Royal Capital – selected over 20 local artists to add art installations to the first floor of the community hub.
The ThriveOn Collaboration is between the three entities to make generational investments throughout Milwaukee’s Bronzeville community aimed at eliminating health, economic, and social disparities. The main source of their collaboration is ThriveOn King which will include community, commercial, and residential spaces that offer new resources and opportunities to the neighborhood.
Once the development is finished it will be home to GMF’s new home office and numerous MCW centers and institutes.
Along with the art installations, the first floor will house a Malaika Early Learning Center campus, JobsWork MKE, and Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin programs as well as healthy food, wellness offerings, and more. The development will include approximately 90 units of mixed-income housing for families, seniors, and students.
According to a press release, neighborhood residents and stakeholders wanted art throughout the new development. The chosen art will show a cohesive narrative that:
- Respects and preserves the culture and history of Bronzeville
- Honors the vitality and community connections present today
- Celebrates youth and the promise of a thriving future
Getting to Know the Artists
Growing up just than less a mile away from the development, artist Nehemiah Edwards felt connected to the project.
“My story [and] what I can create can be a benefit [to this project],” said Edwards.
The concept of Edwards’ artwork is that “love is the absolute answer to everything.” He uses a lot of hearts in his work, along with spirituality where he depicts angels and demons.
Through his art, he is showing that we all have decisions to make. Each of those decisions can either lead us to our higher selves or take us away from who we are, and he hopes his art inspires people to go high.
ThriveOn is one of Edwards’ largest commissions.
Edward hopes ThriveOn’s intentional investment in local artists inspires other organizations and corporations to follow suit. According to a National Assembly of State Arts Agencies report, Wisconsin ranks dead last when it comes to per capita spent on funding the arts culture.
“It’s great to see that these dollars aren’t just sitting in Downtown,” he said. “I like to see projects like ThriveOn that tap into solely local artists.”
Evelyn Patricia Terry
Artist Evelyn Patricia Terry has artwork in over 500 public, private, and corporate collections. Terry started entering exhibitions in the 60s where she would attend art fairs and festivals. Each time she sold work she would keep the customers’ contact information on file, which is one of her ways of how she’s been able to keep moving up as an artist.
It was in the 80s when Terry began working with art consultants to grow her network and sales.
Terry too has connections to Milwaukee’s Bronzeville. She was a founding member of the Gallery Towards the Black Aesthetic in 1968, which was located in the 300 block on North Avenue. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she was employed by the Milwaukee Inner City Arts Council, a nonprofit arts organization that promoted Black art. The administration was Black and was located at 7th and North Avenue.
For ThriveOn, Terry will be bringing in one of her table installations to symbolize the community coming together in a positive way.
With her many art pieces, Terry hopes her art lives on for generations.
“The was goal to get my art outside of my home and into the world,” she said.
Full List of Selected Artists
- Bolanle Awosika
- Reginald Baylor Studio
- Brad Anthony Bernard
- Fondè Bridges
- Olivia (LIV) Burks
- Nehemiah Edwards
- Reynaldo Hernandez & Rozalia Singh
- Vedale Hill
- Kristine Hinrichs
- Deva Houston
- Mutòpe J. Johnson
- John Kowalczyk
- La Familia de Arte
- Mene Muhammad (RazitoZulu)
- Ras ‘Ammar Nsoroma & Adjua Nsoroma
- Rosy Petri
- Isaic Pulliam
- Evelyn Patricia Terry
- Rakim Wil
Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.