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.

Darkness crushed and shattered
Drenched in a chasm of devastation
Frayed, wrapped in sorrow

My injury, your injury
Jagged barbs, inflamed abrasions
My distress, your distress
Startling incursions, engulfing implosions
Copious snarled, shadowed roots of insinuating doubts
Lightning darts sting
My failures, your failures, parched and raw
Your loss, my loss; our screeching losses, dust

Yesterday’s ended
One strand after the next
Unraveling the gnarled shreds and splinters
Undoing old and starting new paths, breathe
Today and tomorrow, turn
Turn to trust
Trust trust

Adapt, believe, connect, discharge, endure
Facilitate, generate, hope, inquire, justify
Know, liberate, move, nurture, optimize
Progress, question, release, search, transform
Unfold, validate, wholehearted, expand, yield

I step outside midday, breathless
The point in the low clouds directly above
Through a pale shadow’s billowing, ethereal veil
Hovers an embracing halo of tender, heavenly light
Whispering deep the closest intimate shelter
You are… everything

Zenith crown above me reaching down
and flooding through me
Through and through
Drawing all scattered strands into one pool
Wherever I go, always
Immerse me

I turn in trust
to You

Brianna Joy Seipel: Artist Response: Painting is often an act of courage. There is a moment in the life of every “work in process” when I’m not sure what to do. And then, oftentimes suddenly, there is a breaking through the indecision – like the light through these clouds. We don’t have “zenith” experiences as artists and writers unless we push through these stages, knowing that there is light in the midst of darkness.

Lynn Maglio

Rays of sunlight at midday.

Brianna Joy Seipel
Through her Lives in Landscape™ Project, Brianna Joy Seipel has worked collaboratively, curating exhibitions that honor the stories of remarkable human beings in Milwaukee. By telling their stories through “landscape narratives,” her work highlights the wild beauty of the natural world that is a reflection of the true self we all share. LOTUS Legal Clinic empowers survivors of sexual violence and trafficking. They provide direct, comprehensive legal services, advocacy, and community education, and they invest in survivors as change agents. Serving the state of Wisconsin since 2013, their vision is to create a national model for restoring the dignity, rights, and voices of survivors. As of 2019, Legal Clinic has served 117 survivors through the Untold Stories project, empowering men and women alike to bear witness and share their stories as vehicles for powerful personal and social change. Rise and Thrive: A Lives in Landscape Exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.