Editor’s Note: This story is part of an occasional series of articles about artists in the Milwaukee community.
After graduating from Harvard University in 2006, multidisciplinary artist Mikal Floyd-Pruitt brought his art practice back to Milwaukee, where he grew up.
“As an artist, I take a multifaceted approach to creation. I studied cinema at university, I learned to paint, I took screen printing courses, I tried a little sculpting and basically when I think of something, I try to figure out how to do it,” Floyd-Pruitt said. “It’s kind of a creative mash-up for me.”
He is currently artist-in-residence at Jazale’s Art Studio, 2201 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The walls of his studio show the range of his work, which includes paintings, sculptures, altered clothing, assemblages of found objects, and even interactive pieces, such as a game involving Nerf darts.
Floyd-Pruitt is currently engaged in hip-hop-focused projects, inspired by artists such as producer J Dilla, who died in 2006, and rapper Ghostface Killah, a former member of the Wu Tang Klan.
Her work is also influenced by hip-hop featured in a larger series of installations exhibited at Jazale’s Art Studio over four weekends in late 2016. “We did a series called Art House Trap. The intention was to create a free, cross-generational community event, where people were invited to experience the creative process and participate in a discussion about hip-hop,” Floyd-Pruitt said.
“I have a lot of recordings to do and I’m excited about my next job. Hip hop, liberation, neglected youth, that’s what I’m about.
Floyd-Pruitt started rapping and producing music in his youth, taking the nickname MC Mikal. These early forays into musical creation led to his first collaborations with other artists.
Alongside his personal artistic practice, he is also a community artist and cultural producer. Her involvement includes “developing projects with groups of young people, providing creative consultants on various public art projects, and visiting organizations to help bring an idea to fruition.”
One example is the Public Event Splash, a performance framed like a game show where Floyd-Pruitt asks contestants questions about Milwaukee.
“If you have a good question, you get a water balloon filled with paint, and then you can throw that water balloon at a huge canvas,” Floyd-Pruitt said.
These interactive community projects provide an opportunity for public debate to a diverse group of people.
“I also represent I AM MILWAUKEE,” Floyd-Pruitt said, referring to the logo he designed and trademarked. “It’s a lifestyle brand that promotes unity, creativity, pride and belonging in Milwaukee.” The brand offers clothing and will soon expand to develop media to showcase the city’s creativity and talent, he said.
“I’m from Milwaukee; I grew up here. After graduating from university I came back here and for me this is my home. It’s important for me to see the art and culture market develop and expand and I think it’s a challenge worth taking up.
Editor’s note: The music for the video was produced by OD of Inner Vibes Records.