Editor’s note: This story is one of an occasional series of pieces about community artists in Milwaukee.
After graduating from Harvard University in 2006, multi-disciplinary artist Mikal Floyd-Pruitt moved his art practice back to Milwaukee, where he grew up.
“As an artist I take a multifaceted approach to creating. I studied filmmaking in college, taught myself to paint, took some screen-printing classes, dabbled in a bit of sculpture, and essentially when I think of something, I try to figure out how to make it,” said Floyd-Pruitt. “It’s all sort of one creative mash-up for me.”
Currently he is an artist-in-residence at Jazale’s Art Studio, 2201 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The walls of his studio display the breadth of his work, which includes paintings, sculptures, modified clothing items, found-object assemblages and even interactive pieces, such as a game involving Nerf darts.
Floyd-Pruitt is currently engaged in hip-hop-focused projects, inspired by such artists as producer J Dilla, who died in 2006, and rapper Ghostface Killah, a former member of Wu Tang Klan.
His work also is informed by hip-hop featured in a larger installation series exhibited at Jazale’s Art Studio during four weekends at the end of 2016. “We did a series called Art House Trap. The intent was to create a free, intergenerational community event, where people were welcome to experience the creative process and participate in a discussion about hip-hop,” Floyd-Pruitt said.
“I have a lot of recording to do, and I’m excited about my next body of work. Hip hop, liberation, jilted youth, I’m about that.”
Floyd-Pruitt started rapping and producing music as a youth, taking up the moniker MC Mikal. These early forays into making music led to his first collaborations with other artists.
Along with his personal art practice, he is also a community artist and cultural producer. His involvement includes “putting together projects with youth groups, serving as creative consultant on various public art projects, and going into organizations to help them accomplish an idea.”
One example is the public event Splash, a performance framed as a game show where Floyd-Pruitt asks contestants questions about Milwaukee.
“If you get a question right, you get a water balloon filled with paint, and then you get to throw that water balloon at a huge canvas,” said Floyd-Pruitt.
These interactive community projects provide an opportunity for public discourse for a diverse group of people.
“I also rep I AM MILWAUKEE,” said Floyd-Pruitt, referring to the logo he designed and trademarked. “It’s a lifestyle brand promoting unity, creativity, pride and ownership in Milwaukee.” The brand offers apparel, and is going to expand soon to develop media to showcase the city’s creativity and talent, he said.
“I’m from Milwaukee; I grew up here. After I graduated from college I came back here and to me it’s my home. It’s important to me to see the art market and the culture develop and expand and I think it’s a challenge worth taking on.”
Editor’s note: The music in the video was produced by O-D of Inner Vibes Records.