This multi-part editorial series was based on the “Rise and Thrive: A Lives in Landscape Exhibition” created by Milwaukee artist Brianna Joy Seipel. The project was produced in partnership with LOTUS Legal Clinic and the Untold Stories program. https://mkeind.com/riseandthrive
Standing in front of me is a giant Saguaro Cactus.
At first all you can see is its protective spines,
Don’t get too close or you’ll get hurt.
But, wait and get to know it better and you’ll
Soon see what this beautiful cactus will bring.
Beautiful white flowers in the late spring,
And juicy red fruit in the summer.
It stands tall only after many years of the harsh
Sun beating down upon it.
With its many years it grows arms to show its
Strength and resilience.
It has many surface roots but only one
Deep root to keep it on track.
Standing in front of you is a Strong Woman.
At first all you can see is her protective wall,
Don’t get too close or she’ll get hurt, at least that’s what she thinks.
But, wait and get to know her better and you’ll
Soon see what this beautiful Woman will bring.
Beautiful smiles to brighten in the spring,
And a powerful VOICE all year long.
She stands tall only after many years of harsh
Treatment beating her down, as both a child and an adult.
With her many years she grows everyday to show her
Strength and resilience.
She has many friends and family to help her get through
But only one God to keep her on track.
Brianna Joy Seipel: Artist Response: Each painting represented in this project began with a meeting over coffee – a chance to connect in person and talk about landscapes that shape our lives and memories. In our first meeting, I loved hearing about the home of Laurel’s grandparents. The “hugging cactus” has been a constant reminder of peace and strength for her each time she returns there. This painting was a unique challenge to combine a daytime photograph and her childhood memories of Arizona’s vivid sunsets. We agreed that I would work between several of her reference images to combine these ideas, and I threw in a few clouds from my own photographs for good measure. As an artist, it truly means the world when someone trusts you to capture their ideas in this way.
The “hugging” cactus in front of Laurel’s grandfather’s ranch house that he built on the mountain in Tucson, Arizona.
- Rise and Thrive: Brianna Joy Seipel creates landscapes of witness at the crossroads of art and allyship
- Rise and Thrive: A “Lives in Landscape” Series - Saguaro
- Rise and Thrive: A “Lives in Landscape” Series - Zenith
- Rise and Thrive: A “Lives in Landscape” Series - Huckleberry & Pine
- Rise and Thrive: A “Lives in Landscape” Series - Journeying Through Forgiveness
- Rise and Thrive: A “Lives in Landscape” Series - Summer of Empowerment
- Rise and Thrive: A “Lives in Landscape” Series - The Wake of Dreams