Group Exhibition “Urban Heroes, Urban Wood” Honors Black Milwaukee Influencers

Group Exhibition “Urban Heroes, Urban Wood” Honors Black Milwaukee Influencers

In honor of Black History Month, “Urban Heroes, Urban Wood” will feature artwork that pays homage to Milwaukee’s most influential black citizens.

To celebrate Black History Month and honor Milwaukee’s most influential black leaders, Fresh Perspective Art Collective, the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and members of Wisconsin Urban Wood have teamed up to create “Urban Heroes, Urban Wood,” a group art exhibition.

From Feb. 17 to March 17, the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum will be showcasing paintings and photographs on wood from urban Milwaukee ash trees. The ash wood was transformed into 30″ x 36″ panels that collectively depict the story of Milwaukee’s black community. 

Wisconsin artists, foresters, historians, sawmill operators and woodworkers collaborated to develop the process for creating the finished panels. Fourteen artists from Fresh Perspective Art Collective will be featured in the exhibition, which will honor Isaac Coggs, Orville E. Pitts and Annette Polly Williams, among other influential black Milwaukeeans.

“We are excited to share the stories of Milwaukee’s influential black leaders painted by the members of the Fresh Perspective Art Collective, which evens the playing field for black families by artfully engaging their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, boyfriends, and grandfathers,” said Clayborn Benson, founder and executive director of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society.

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society (2620 W. Center St.) is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The exhibit is free.



Elisabeth Wallock is a contributing digital editor at Milwaukee Magazine. She graduated from Colorado State University and has interned at Marie Claire in New York and Urban Outfitters in London.