NORMALLY, THE GREATER MILWAUKEE FOUNDATION throws the five winners of its annual Mary L. Nohl fellowships a big party. This year, the fellows winning one of the city’s most coveted art awards have had to celebrate a little more privately, as the pandemic continues. We asked them how, or whether, their art practices have changed in the era of social distancing.
AGE: 26 | PREFERRED MEDIA: PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO
My entire project was spurred from being in isolated quarantine, causing me to further question my gender identity without the pressure of social situations. … It has been nice in a bittersweet way, getting trapped alone with my thoughts and feelings. However, my art practice has always involved working extensively with others.
AGE: 25 | PREFERRED MEDIA: DRAWING, PRINTING, COLLAGE, GOUACHE
I am grateful that I get even more time to work on art, but emotionally it’s been really difficult. … Being artists, we are accustomed to the fleeting nature of the art world. … I am working harder to be kinder to myself and allow myself to experiment more. I’ve also been motivated to be more active in my community … to extend what I can to uplift Black and queer communities around me. I am starting to think more like an artist and activist.
AGE: 28 | PREFERRED MEDIUM: FILM
Before the murder of George Floyd, the pandemic really caused a lull in inspiration and purpose for me – I wasn’t making much. After the marching began, the momentum shifted. People started to come together. Collectively, we started to have conversations about how we wanted the future to look. … I believe there’s a huge cultural shift.
Ras ‘Ammar Nsoroma
AGE: 53 | PREFERRED MEDIUM: MIXED-MEDIA PAINTING[My art practice] hasn’t really changed. Except that it’s afforded me more time. I’m doing some work for the Florentine Opera right now, the backdrops for La Bohemè. One of the characters in the show is an artist, so I’ll be making his body of work. And I’m doing a show that opens in November at Five Points Art Gallery (3514 N. Port Washington Ave.).
AGE: 72 | PREFERRED MEDIUM: VIDEO
I am not sure that my art practice has changed during the pandemic. I finished the short video, “I’ve Been Afraid,” during good days that I had while being sick (though having tested negative for COVID-19). It is a story-song about women who have been threatened, with music by musician/composer Isaac Sherman.