A quartet of creative catalysts and activists is quietly making things happen in Milwaukee. Since its founding in 2012, ReciproCITY, a “mobile cultural collective,” has initiated many community-based projects that relate to cultural history, urban agriculture, curbing violence and promoting community. Sometimes their respective professional work intertwines with ReciproCITY projects. They collaborate with other individuals, grassroots groups and major institutions for specific ventures, including sustainability projects, exhibitions, permanent art installations and a neighborhood park. ReciproCITY’s initiatives frequently involve helping young people cultivate skills.
ReciproCITY’s latest effort was the block-long mural on Historic Mitchell Street just west of First Street. The Butters Fetting Company provided a building wall for the mural depicting events in the history of Milwaukee’s Latino immigrants. The project started in 2015 when Michael Carriere, Associate Professor of History at Milwaukee School of Engineering, led a team of undergraduates and high-school students in conducting oral histories for the project.
“We used the 50-year history of United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) as an entry point into a broader story of the Latino civil rights movement in Milwaukee,” says Carriere. Those narratives then informed the mural’s imagery. Raoul Deal of the UW-Milwaukee’s Community Arts Program at Peck School of the Arts was the project’s lead artist. All interns were young people of color who were paid for their work through the nonprofit ArtWorks for Milwaukee.
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