By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 30, 2020 at 2:06 PM Photography: Royal Brevvaxling

In this new series, OnMilwaukee shines the spotlight on the artists who created the many new murals in our area. Enjoy!

Tia Richardson has painted more than 50 murals, most of which are in Milwaukee and many that are collaborations between herself and kids, teens, other artists or community members.

"Sherman Park Rising" by Tia Richardson (PHOTO: Troy Freund)

One of the murals that's nearest and dearest to Richardson's heart is called "The Rebirthing of the Earth Mother" that's located on an exterior wall of the Historic Garfield Apartments, originally Garfield Street School, at 2215 N. Vel Phillips St. in Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood.

Richardson was commissioned to create the mural in 2018.

Currently, Richardson and a team of local teens affiliated with the Milwaukee Christian Center (MCC) finished a 200-foot mural. An official ceremony for the completed mural takes place in the form of a socially-distanced parade at 5:45 p.m. today. The mural was an ongoing two-tier project located between 13th and 14th Streets on Forest Home Avenue on the back of the El Rey grocery store.

(PHOTO: Tia Richardson)

Richardson also recently completed a mural in the Milwaukee County Courthouse as part of a new project that will add lively and diverse murals to the otherwise-austere space.

OnMilwaukee recently met up with Richardson in front of her "Rebirthing of the Earth Mother" mural and asked her a few questions.

OnMilwaukee: Did you grow up in Milwaukee?

I spent about half my life living in Milwaukee and the other half living in the Janesville and Kenosha County. I went to Milwaukee High School of the Arts for two years and then transferred and graduated from Wilmot Union High School in Kenosha.

Were you into art as a child?

Yes, very much so. My dad is an artist and both of my parents were always very supportive of the arts community and my own creativity. I took a lot of art classes.

Did you study art formally after high school?

Yes, I attended MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design) and have a degree in graphic design from MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College.)

But I'm self-taught when it comes to murals. I've had some great mentors who taught me the nuts and bolts of large-scale art, but most of it has been trial by fire. Learning as I go and experimenting so I can get better and better.

What do you like most about making murals?

My favorite part is working with people of all ages who don’t consider themselves artists and then to see them come alive through the process. Creating murals is a process of discovery. We discover so much about ourselves while doing it and when we are finished, we have a large image that reflects all that we've learned and how we feel about our community.

Recently, Milwaukee has received so many new murals. Why is this good for our city?

There are so many reasons, but in terms of the artists themselves, the uptick in murals and public art in general has allowed up-and-coming artists and people who don't consider themselves artists to convey what they care about. There has been more opportunity for artists in general.

Do you have a dream mural and / or a dream wall where you'd like to paint a mural?

Yes, but I'm gonna keep it to myself for now. I will say this, though. Most of my murals are very local and specific to a neighborhood. I would like to make murals internationally that have global themes that resonate with everyone who is human.

What do you love most about the "Rebirthing of the Earth Mother" mural?

It has a lot of symbolism that's connected to my own interests – music, books – and it represents the core of what I believe: that life is a school of learning. I also like that it has a multi-cultural theme which represents the diversity of people living in the building. When I was commissioned to paint this mural I was asked to let my soul loose, and I really feel that I did that. 

Check out Tia Richardson's website here.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.