Since implementing the Action Activities initiative earlier this year, Near West Side Partners (NWSP) has recruited artists to design and install eight new murals in the neighborhood. This blog post is the second in a series profiling each artist (see Brad Bernard’s post here).
Street artist and muralist Byada Meredith is a part of the team working to bring more art to the Near West Side. She became interested in the Near West Side through a friend who worked in the community and was promoting her art. Since moving to the United States from Thailand, Byada has focused on “bigger and bigger forms of art” to work up to murals. One of her most recent projects can be found in Black Cat Alley, a hub for Milwaukee artists.

Currently, Byada’s mural focuses on women moving together and “trying to tune into the moment,” she said. “The moment contains music and life and love if you can blast your filters out from the inside and clean them up to let more things in.” By letting more things in, you can become closer to yourself and repel fear, pressure, and negativity.

Above: With the base colors done, Byada is beginning to add details to the Near West Side’s mural.

Art can also be used to preserve things. As communities become more divided, they lose their appreciation for the treasured and respected elements that built the foundation for residents and businesses.

“This world has a lot of really beautiful things, but it is also pretty clear that for reasons none of us seem to understand, we are all kind of slowly taking apart these beautiful things. So, we should all try to keep adding to the beauty personally whenever possible,” Byada said. “It seems the only thing we personally have the power to do is create beauty, whereas stopping the destruction of it always seems beyond the reach of just one of us.”

Beyond helping individuals earn a better sense of art and what it means to them, Byada hopes her murals can be an opportunity for people to connect on a deeper level.

“I can only hope that people will take a moment from their phones and look up and feel a little tighter about their neighborhood because, despite all the agendas pulling us apart, we are all in this together,” she said. Byada’s work builds off of goals set by NWSP and cultivates an environment where art can communicate, empower, and enliven every member of the community.

When asked about what people should get out of seeing her art, Byada said, “Each person gets something different out of what they are looking at, but if it is up to me, I would like everyone to take a moment and seriously and respectfully think about all of the women who never stopped making it happen– those sisters, moms, aunts, and grandmas that were always present and striving to make our lives something we could cherish and make sense of as they were always right there with dinner or a hug or strong words or a cool towel if we needed one.”

“They just seemed to hold [everything together],” she added. “Our childhoods, our confusion during adolescence, our families and communities, our anything and everything.”

Above: Byada converted her living room into an art studio to put the mural’s panels together.

Byada’s interest in working in the Near West Side is simple: “Most importantly, because it needs more art!” By integrating the work done by NWSP and local organizations into her art, she can create a renewed value for it.

“The world is too small for us to do anything but work together,” she added.

To learn more about Byada’s work and her upcoming mural projects, you can visit her website or follow her on Instagram (@byada_artist) and Facebook. NWSP social media will be updated throughout the summer to track each artist’s progress and learn more about their work in the Near West Side.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!