We did it!!! It was a wonderful experience working with fellow artist, Gabriela Riveros, the students of Escuela Verde Milwaukee, and Ali Carlucci of Artists Working in Education, Inc. on this public art project. This mural has been and will continue to be a great way to research, talk about, and understand immigration and the role it plays in how civilizations change and evolve–culturally, technologically, and economically. It also serves as a beacon for the arts as not only integral–but a leader for how we think, feel, and take action.
Thank you to everyone who came to our mural celebration today, and to all the students, organizers, and community partners who made this project a success. For those of you who weren’t able to make it, you can view the mural at 35th and Pierce Street in Milwaukee and continue to learn more about the project on this website.
Our final day of painting. Countless thanks go out to everyone who came out for this day. We seriously couldn’t have done this without you, and are excited to feature our collaboration with you for everyone in the neighborhood to see come August.
For anyone who’s curious, here’s what we went through.
Markers and crayons (for workshop activities)
Sharpies, pencils, and graph paper (for workshop activities)
Hardiebacker Cement Boards
Glidden Premium Paint – gallon buckets
Behr Pro Exterior Paint – gallon buckets
6 pack extra rollers
15 piece brush set
4 inch flat brush
1 inch flat brush
Pour Spouts for paint cans
Scotch Blue Painters Tape
9″ paint roller
Paint Rags 10 pack
Glidden Exterior Paint – 1 quart
VandlSystem 1-gal. Anti-Graffiti Coating
Additional Tools & Costs
One ViewSonic projector, provided by the school; artists provided laptop to hook up to the project
Both artists own the Adobe CS Suite to compile the final mural design and the files to project each panel
A very creaky, old CRV (his name is Bowser, that trooper), after we foolishly and ambitiously loaded all of the extremely heavy cement board panels into the car
2 broken cement board panels 🙁 (Thank goodness we were able to get extra)
Donuts and churros for our students who got up early to help us paint
See the post on Painting Days to review our process, from setup to workflow.
Additional Information about Our Materials
Cement Board: Pros and Cons
Pros: They are extremely weather durable, and their advantage over a material like plywood is that they won’t bow or warp with the humidity and climate conditions. Cement board is usually used in shower and bathroom installations, so it’s made to take a lot of exposure to different conditions.
Cons: They are brittle. We had to be very careful in their transportation. While they are sturdy and long-lasting, we did drop and break two panels in half.
Why didn’t we choose to paint directly on the brick wall? In the case of our building, it’s made with cream city brick, and the aged brick is crumbling and peeling. The surface takes paint poorly and the paint would easily come off the portions of the building that are built with the cream city brick. Additionally, since this is a collaborative piece with the students and neighbors, it was easier to set our project up outside and in the school’s garage. This allowed us to do a lot of upfront planning, to project sections of the mural on each panel, and not have to worry about having any students on a lift to reach high points on the building.
Time and Labor
Artists: There were two of us professional artists on hired for this project, Jenie Gao and Gabriela Riveros. In addition to 8 workshop sessions (2-3 hours each, for a total of 20 workshop hours), we spent 10+ hours outside of classroom time:
collaging and curating the student images to create the final design and creating the plan for executing the mural
planning, purchasing, and transporting the materials
And 34+ hours of actual painting time (we typically had 7-10 helpers at a time, varying based on the students’ class schedules and community members’ participation):
Monday, 6/20 from 8 am to 3:30 pm
Tuesday, 6/21 from 8 am to 3:30 pm
Monday, 6/27 from 8 am to 3:30 pm
Tuesday, 6/28 from 8 am to 7:30 pm (Community Painting Day, where anyone from the neighborhood and city was invited to join us)
Contractor: We hired a contractor to install the panels on the wall. Our contractor worked to install the lumber support beams and hang the panels between 8/2 and 8/4. We had three student volunteers help him transport the panels to the building, where they also got to learn about installation.
Total, we (the artists) had 50+ hours of contact time with the students for this project, 34 of which we spent painting the mural.
Day 1 was dedicated to priming the boards. Everyone earned their ice, cold beverages that day.
We bought most of our supplies at Home Depot. The benefit of this is that Home Depot had everything we needed and multiple options. It was also convenient. But there are community resources for more affordable paint (though you’re limited in your options for colors). Community Warehouse in Milwaukee is a great resource for affordable supplies like brushes, paint rollers, and other staples, and it’s always worth looking for bulk/resale type shops like this place in any city you might be working in.
Glidden and Behr both had affordable options for exterior paint, semi-gloss. We went for semi-gloss because it’d be easier to wipe down if needed, without being maddeningly reflective in the sun like glossy paint would have been. It’s important to tell your paint mixer which colors you’ll be using as your primer or on top of other coats, as some colors are more opaque while others need to be mixed with a primer to be used on top of other paints.
Once the students finished researching and drawing a variety of native crops and migratory species of butterflies that live in Wisconsin, we (Gabi and Jenie) got together to collage them together into a final composition.
creating a design that reflected our collaborative effort and unified our styles in one beautiful composition