MILWAUKEE — A group of local florists are using their talents to lift Black voices and Black businesses by creating public art.
MKE Seen, a collective of local floral artists, constructed a sculpture outside of Sherman Phoenix on July 3. They used hundreds of live flowers to send a powerful message.
"Sherman Phoenix is a meaningful and intentional spot for us because it's one of the examples of taking something that wasn't great for the community and really building out of that a Black space for Black businesses to incubate and get their start," said Liz Egan, one of the designers. "Our hope is that the flowers speak to something that only nature can communicate."
The goal of the sculpture is to create a space for people to connect with each other amid the ongoing conversations surrounding racial injustice and amid the continued calls for institutional reform in Milwaukee.
"This is the language we speak, this is our art, this is how we express ourselves," said Sally Vander Wist, another MKE Seen artist. "There's something really emotional and powerful about flowers."
The installation will remain in place until Monday, July 6 and is already planting a seed of positivity in the neighborhood.
"I was having a good day. I'm having a great day now! I love flowers," said Tina Rivera who stumbled upon the installation accidentally.
"I think it's a powerful statement," said Khasema Johnson, who visited with her entire family.
It's a symbolic statement backed by intention.
"We see you, we hear you, we stand with you," said Vander Wist.
MKE Seen plans to create dozens more floral installations throughout the City of Milwaukee in the months ahead. Each one will have a symbolic intention.