An Artist Whose Work Is Worth a Thousand Words

Tyanna Buie uses family photos – and the stories around them – to make up many of her mixedmedia collages, such as this one seen through the window of Simone DeSousa Gallery, Detroit.

Tyanna Buie is a storyteller, one who uses images instead of words. The Milwaukee artist turns her personal narratives into mixed-media collages, and she challenges the truth of those narratives by talking through them with her family members – who often remember the same events differently. 

A self-described “chunk creator,” Buie takes time to think about her subjects before she begins working. She starts with images, often family photos or photographs of objects, and breaks them down with Photoshop and Illustrator. Then, she builds up layers of paint, drawings, collages and screen-printed imagery, combining traditional and non-traditional print-making processes. 


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Maybe it’s fitting that an artist who spends so much time flipping through family photo albums doesn’t have a traditional studio. Instead, she often works out of her house in Milwaukee and her office at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where she is an assistant professor. 

Recently, she was one of a handful of local artists who collaborated with the internationally renowned Shepard Fairey on a large mural, Voting Rights are Human Rights, located on Milwaukee Street, between Mason and Wells streets. 

She says that seeing artists like Fairey work collaboratively to solve problems is one of the things that inspires her. “It’s not a competition,” she says. “We all have something to offer.” 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue.

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Brianna Schubert is the associate digital editor and writes about art, culture and more at Milwaukee Magazine. When she’s not writing/editing, she’s likely reading (follow her book reviews on Instagram at @read_with_bee), cooking or listening to Taylor Swift.