For MilwaukeeMag.com‘s series, How Are You Coping, photographer Alexis Gleason is creating portraits via Facetime. “I started this project as a way to connect with people. In the process, I’ve seen that these sessions are giving people a reason to get dolled up for a special occasion—even if its just posing in their living room.”
AS AN ARTIST, illustrator and the founder of Wallpapered City – a creative agency that’s teamed up with many neighborhood groups to create murals around the Milwaukee area – Stacey Williams-Ng normally spends her time beautifying our city. We asked her how she’s faring under Safer at Home.
How are you staying grounded these days?
I’m doing a lot of crafts. I’ve been sewing masks. I made a sourdough starter from scratch. I started a little victory garden. All kinds of homesteady things.
Have you been able to work remotely?
Yes, actually. We’ve kept most of our clients. We braced for the worst, but we’ve been really lucky. And Wallpapered City doesn’t have an office anyway, so my days aren’t all that different than they were before.
We’re really a seasonal business. The planning takes place during the cold months, and the painting takes place during the warmer months. The painting part is pretty solitary. It’s just an artist on a lift, working independently. So it’s easy to maintain distance while doing it.
What big projects are you working on right now?
This year we’re working with West Allis and Menomonee Falls.
I have to praise the Village of Menomonee Falls for really setting the tone for the rest of our projects this year. The BID president there, Felicia Reichard has told me she’s even more thrilled that she’s investing in a mural project now because she sees it as something that her residents really need, something that will help keep peoples’ spirits up.
We’re also working with the Villard Avenue BID, and with Kohler.
Are you in the middle of any personal art projects right now too?
I’ve been working on a series called Objects from the Beforetime, visual drawings of household objects that we no longer seem to need. Party favors. Bras. Spanx. I’ve been turning them into postcards too.
How do you stay inspired?
The way I really keep in touch with other artists these days is through my Instagram feed. I follow lots of different artists.
When I was a college student in the ’90s, I had the same urge to feed my eyeballs, so I’d flip through books and magazines and anything I could get my hands on. Now I have immediate access to inspiration.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m quarantining with my husband, and both of our kids are in college. It’s been hard not having them around. I’m 90% sure my son had the virus too, because he’s a UWM student, and he got very sick earlier this spring.
Making things with my hands has really been a balm for anxiety. I’m constantly digging my hands into something, getting messy. And that tactile pursuit, the process of creating something from nothing, has really helped me cope.