“Changing the neighborhood landscape”- 15th and Hadley Intersection Mural

Last year, Artists Working in Education (AWE) partnered with several community agencies to host a special project with mural artist Ammar Nsoroma.  Nsoroma and the AWE Artist Team worked with neighborhood children and students enrolled in the Hopkins-Lloyd Community Learning Center (CLC), 1503 W. Hopkins St., to paint a street mural on the intersection of N. 15th St. and W. Hadley St.  Approximately twenty 5th-8th grade students were a part of the mural planning.

The mural is composed of Adinkra symbols of West Africa.  The mural conveys the message that it’s important for members of a community to work together in order to make positive changes. A.W.E. Executive Director, Beth Haskovec, explains the importance of this project by noting, “As an artist and a community leader, Ammar Nsoroma shares African history with young people, and translates that rich history into public art which changes the neighborhood landscape.”

The project also works to make the neighborhood safer for bike traffic. “This mural project is a fantastic way to engage the youth who are taking our Bike Driver’s Ed course at the Hopkins Lloyd CLC in further community building projects relating to the things they learned,” said Jake Newborn, Wisconsin Bike Fed youth education program manager. “We want all Milwaukee residents to see biking as a fun, healthy, convenient and cheap way to get where they need to be or just enjoy a ride.”

Partners for this program include COA Youth & Family Centers, the Wisconsin Bike Federation, and Milwaukee Public Schools. This project was made possible with support from MPS Partnership for the Arts and Humanities.


Photo by Dave Schlabowske.

Get to Know Our Truck Studio Lead Artists

TomTom Haslett

Bio: Tom was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, but grew up in Milwaukee. He went through MPS for grade school and then studied illustration at MIAD. Tom currently teaches art at Rufus King Elementary School. He has been with A.W.E. on and off for the past ten years. When asked “What do you love most about teaching in Truck Studio?,” Tom replied, “I love that all the things that inhibit the fun of creating art are removed. There’s no grading, no bells, no walls. It’s just you, the child, and the material. It’s just kind of a raw, pure experience. It’s not fettered with all the constraints of a traditional classroom.”



Fun facts about Tom:

  1. Tom has taught in MPS for 9 years!
  2. As a child he loved drawing comics and cartoons
  3. Favorite food is barbeque.
  4. Describes himself as peaceful, creative, and steady.
  5. Loves to roller skate!


MichelleMichelle Renaud

Bio: Michelle was born and raise in Appleton, Wi. She graduated from University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee this past January with a degree in Fine Arts and a minor in Art History. She began working with A.W.E. as a volunteer in 2013 and has since worked as an intern. This is her first summer as a lead artist. When asked “What is your favorite part about being a lead artist at Truck Studio?,” Michelle responded, “It’s fun! I always  feel like I’m bragging when I talk about this job. It’s super rewarding. I love the people that I’ve met through A.W.E. and learning more about the Milwaukee community.”

Fun facts about Michelle:

  1. Loves ceramics and working with fibers (particularly coiling and sewing/embroidering)
  2. Her favorite project to teach is Imogen’s antlers. In this project, young artists create “antlers”/hats. She likes this project because it encourages the kids to be flexible and push past obstacles. Plus it’s fun!
  3. Longtime fan of Dave Matthews band. Also loves Andrew Bird.
  4. A true Wisconsin girl, her favorite food is cheese.
  5. Plays video games (especially loves playing ones that amateur video game designers have made)


TerryTerry Spears

Bio: Terry was born and raised a couple of blocks away from the A.W.E. offices. He went through MPS, then graduated from MATC in 2010, majoring in animation. Terry has been with A.W.E. for a year now, interning with Truck Studio last summer and Library Truck Studio last fall. When asked, “What is your favorite aspect of Truck Studio?,” Terry said, “I really like the kids reactions to the art projects the good and bad. It is always interesting to see them do something they never tried before and then in the end either love it or hate it. Also getting them to think creatively to problem solve, something I believe to be very important not just in art but in life.”


Fun facts about Terry:

  1. Favorite artist is John Lasseter, “because Pixar”
  2. Loved cartoons, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, and drawing as a child
  3. Still loves cartoons, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles and drawing. His favorite day at Truck Studio is “Superhero Day,” where they draw their own cartoons and create their own superheroes.
  4. Likes pho (yum!), and any other foods that are “good healing food”
  5. Enjoys watching the Korean game show, “Running Man”


Lauran Lauran Bowe

Bio: Lauran was also born and raised very close to A.W.E.’s offices. She went through MPS, graduated from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts and then went on to study Behavioral Sciences at Mount Mary University. Lauran has been volunteering at A.W.E. since 2007 and has been working with Truck Studio for the past three years as an intern and lead artist. Lauran loves working with kids and encouraging them to use their imaginations and “embrace their weird.”


Fun facts about Lauran (mostly in quote form):

  1. Lauran moonlights as a Hip Hop talk show radio host on Riverwest Radio 104.1 FMLP.
  2. “Oh man, I was a weird kid.” Lauran loved reading about mythology and the paranormal (specifically aliens and ghosts).
  3. Favorite band- “Hands down, Atmosphere.” (seen them six times in concert). “Also Drake, because Drake is for the ladies.”
  4. Favorite food- “Probably tacos”
  5. Describes Truck Studio as “amazing, powerful, and important.”

Coming Soon: 5×3 Hayes Bilingual Mural

The Hayes Bilingual Boys & Girls Club and artists, Anja Sieger and Terry Spears joined together to create a mural on the 1000 Cesar Chavez Dr. Their goal is to put up a mural in their Clarke Square neighborhood “that makes people smile and feel good when they see it.” They hope the mural will enhance the overall quality of life in the neighborhood as well as the slow the traffic speed along the street. Their design concept is to make colorful “tessellations,” a geometric pattern that repeats itself infinitely without overlaps or gaps.

The public is encouraged to help in the painting process on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 18-26, 9am – 12pm. The Hayes Bilingual Mural will be unveiled on Thursday, July 28 from 9-10am. All are invited to celebrate!

Thank you to the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative for your support in this project.

This project is funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Racial Equity and Inclusion Grant and MPS Partnership for the Arts and Humanities.

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Through A.W.E.’s 5×3 AIR (Artist in Residence) program, youth gain an understanding of the public art process, talk to key decision makers in their neighborhoods and present their ideas to the wider community. The artists and youth learn from each other and work together, sharing input that shapes the final product. Upon completion the work is celebrated with the community.

Clarke Square Mural Shines a Spotlight on Health Equity


La Luz Del Mundo youth

The Milwaukee Diabetes and Oral Health Art Gallery, Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative, neighborhood youth, including interns from Journey House and youth from La Luz Del Mundo/Light of the World Church  joined with A.W.E. artists, John Kowalczyk and Isabel Castro to create a public mural.

The Milwaukee Diabetes and Oral Health Art Gallery was implemented in November of 2016 by Dr. Dina Garcia and her sister, Marcela Garcia, to raise awareness of the oral health disparities affecting individuals with diabetes in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area. This summer, in partnership with A.W.E., the youth-led mural continued to build energy around important health equity conversations in our community.

“The topic of health equity is a way to continue to raise awareness of health disparities that are disproportionately impacting our community, while garnering community support to advocate for better access to health care services and programs,” shares Dr. Dina Garcia. The youth read oral health disparities research findings from Dr. Garcia’s study, and created collages based on the ideas in the research to develop the imagery for the mural.

“The mural represents the importance of being connected to each other to promote the physical, mental and spiritual health of our community—art as a method of health advocacy,” shares resident and advocate, Marcela Garcia. The Health Equity Mural is part of an answer to her question, “How can we, as a community, use our voices to mobilize and create solutions?”

The mural is located at 1200 Cesar Chavez Dr (painted on the side of the Milwaukee Diabetes and Oral Health Art Gallery). The unveiling and celebration for the mural will took place in conjunction with Ciclovia MKE, a free public event that opens a route of car-free streets to bike, play, and exercise. 

This project is run through our AIR (Artists-in-Residence) program. It is funded by the Zilber Family Foundation, the Milwaukee Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, MPS Partnership for the Arts and Humanities, City of Milwaukee NIDC. Thank you to the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative for your support in this project.

Like Artists Working in Education and follow @aweinc on Instagram for more updates on this project!


Dr. Dina encouraging the painters!


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“Check Mates” Brings Neighbors Together

A queen, the royal and powerful
Wipes out anything in her path
The lives, the buildings, and
Shattering objects
An appointed strong natural force
formed that is fatal
The dignity and specialty of a
queen set herself from other forces
-MaiChue Yang, a student participant

“Check Mates” is a temporary public art installation created by Hmong American Friendship Association teens, and artists Kima Hamilton and Carmen Quinlivan. Over several months, the group designed this installation to bring Washington Park neighbors together through art and play. They hope to create a giant chess board, install poems on the sidewalks, create small sculptural chess boards, and install an art installation in a tree- all in the Amaranth Bakery Garden (3329 W Lisbon Ave). “Check Mates” is run through our AIR (Artists-in-Residence) program.

The project is open for neighbors to participate starting Monday, July 11-13 from 2-6 pm. The celebration and chess games are on July 18 from 5-6 pm.

A.W.E. would like to express gratitude to our wonderful neighborhood partners for their dedication to this project: Muneer Bahauddeen, Amaranth Bakery owner, David Boucher, and Washington Park Partners.

Special thank you to our funders Milwaukee Arts Board through the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and MPS Partnership for the Arts and Humanities.

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“The Hidden Identity of the Hijab”- a Platform for Racial Equity and Inclusion


My hijab is identity.
My hijab is my freedom.
My hijab does not make me superior to other women.
My hijab is my right.
My hijab is my choice.
My hijab is not oppression.
My hijab is my personality.
My hijab is my life.
My hijab is my crown.
My hijab keeps me safe.
My hijab protects me.
My hijab is a way of life.
– Poetry from Samira, a student participant

Through the High School Connection Program, teens at Our Next Generation (O.N.G.) worked alongside animation artist Jon Brown and emerging artist Alberto Rios to turn their stories and experiences of wearing the hijab into an animation. They want to tell the community that the hijab makes them feel modest and confident, and is a representation of their religion. This project is about celebrating diversity, promoting equity through understanding, and creating a more inclusive community.

On Wednesday, July 18, the O.N.G. teens will share their experience of wearing the hijab with neighbors through the animated film the created entitled, The Hidden Identity of the Hijab. The viewing will take place at 8:30 pm at the Washington Park Bandshell (shown after the weekly concert).

A.W.E., O.N.G., and Safe & Sound, Inc. partnered to install the first of five neighborhood artist-in-residence programs being created this year that engage youth in creating public art for their neighborhood.

The program is supported by a Racial Equity & Inclusion grant from The Greater Milwaukee Foundation and MPS Partnership for the Arts & Humanities.

Click HERE to view and share the animated short.


Through A.W.E.’s 5×3 AIR (Artist in Residence) program, youth gain an understanding of the public art process, talk to key decision makers in their neighborhoods and present their ideas to the wider community. The artists and youth learn from each other and work together, sharing input that shapes the final product. Upon completion the work is celebrated with the community.

2016 Summer Truck Studio Schedule

Follow the Truck to find out when A.W.E. artists will be in a park near you this summer- for FREE! Projects are inspired by books and a daily theme. This is a great opportunity to be creative, try new techniques and have fun expressing your artistic point of view.

While projects are designed for youth ages 4-14, all are welcome to come and make art with A.W.E.’s talented team of artists and art educators. Programs run weekdays from 12-3pm at various Milwaukee County Park and Milwaukee Recreation sites.

Can’t join during the day?  Visit the EVENING TRUCK STUDIO from 6-8pm! Bring the whole family to make art in the park while listening to live music on select concert nights.

Download a Copy: 2016_AWE SUMMER FLYER_1page

A.W.E. partnership with MKE Plays selected for NEA funding

MKE PlaysMKE Plays awarded prestigious NEA grant

Funding to be used to incorporate art into program’s playground reconstruction projects

The MKE Plays program has received a prestigious “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, said Alderman Michael J. Murphy, who helped launch MKE Plays last year.

The $50,000 NEA grant will be matched by MKE Plays funding for a total project value of $100,000.  Alderman Murphy said community partner Artists Working in Education (A.W.E.) will be facilitating arts programming in conjunction with the MKE Plays design process at selected playgrounds. The MKE Plays program is helping to transform 12 of the city’s most deteriorated playgrounds into models of local collaboration and renovation.

The NEA grant award will be the topic of a news conference hosted by Alderman Murphy at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, May 10) at the offices of A.W.E., 4315 W. Vliet St. Mayor Tom Barrett and Beth Haskovec of A.W.E. will join Alderman Murphy for the news conference.

Alderman Murphy said he is humbled and grateful for the highly prestigious “Our Town” grant award from the NEA. “The MKE Plays initiative is based on the premise that equal access to resources leads to healthier communities and improved social outcomes,” Alderman Murphy said. “We envision a city with play areas whose condition is not determined by the ZIP code or district they are in, but rather are equally equipped to inspire a child’s imagination regardless of where they are located in the City of Milwaukee.”

“Playing outside is a vital part of childhood,” Mayor Barrett said. “And involving artists in the design of creative playgrounds is a great way to bring families together and build community.”

Ms. Haskovec said: “A.W.E. is proud to partner with MKE Plays to engage youth in actively shaping public spaces through public art. This initiative brings artists and youth into the planning process, and provides an outlet to express neighborhood identity through the arts.”

With the help of A.W.E., MKE Plays will pair a local artist with neighborhood youth to create public artwork and/or aesthetic enhancement at four playground sites throughout Milwaukee. Each artwork presents an opportunity for service-learning, and youth are actively engaged in the process of creating a public art installation for their neighborhood. The approach will also promote arts engagement in the park space by celebrating the project commencement and culmination.
The MKE Plays program was approved by the Common Council in March 2015 and incorporates both public and private funding sources to accelerate the pace of reconstruction and allow for more innovative designs. The cost for the twelve parks targeted by MKE Plays for reconstruction through 2017 is estimated at $1,585,408.  This number represents a 25% increase over traditional reconstruction estimates to allow for creative, high-quality construction.  With commitments from several local philanthropic organizations, MKE Plays has secured $1,742,500 in funding (private/public) – with another $125,000 yet to be announced – as well as an additional $90,000 for program expenses over the next three years, exceeding a minimum funding goal by more than $155,000.

For MKE Plays updates, please visit http://www.city.milwaukee.gov/mkeplays.

Thank You Ocupop!

IMG_4426Welcome to A.W.E.’s new website! We are excited to have this bright, shiny tool to share news, events, and programming with you. Sending a huge thank you to the creative team at Ocupop for their beautiful work.