Artist Fatima Laster Stripping Away Perceptions of Art

By Ryan Ward | November 18, 2021


Artist Fatima Laster’s work is full of layers. She uses paints and canvases to form abstract pieces of art.

“My art is usually absence of form, so that falls in the category of abstraction. I do more gestural work
and so it’s about movement and color and expression through those.”

In 2018 she put that artist eye to work when she purchased a historically Black owned funeral home on the north side of Milwaukee and converted it into an art gallery.

“I wanted to make it a very communal space,” Laster said, “With a mission and focus of highlighting artists of color and other marginalized artists who still have underrepresentation issues in our industry at large.”

Laster named the gallery and studio space 5 Points Artist Gallery and Studios, referencing the neighborhood it’s located in and where Laster grew up. Support from the community has helped fuel the project.

“And I got a lot of support through everyone who came through this space, and they liked and appreciated the new use”, Laster said.

For Laster, the location of the gallery in a historically Black Milwaukee neighborhood is as important as the gallery itself

“Like when you look at fine art you’re going elsewhere, you’re going downtown, you go into the suburbs, you go into another city.” Laster said. “And so, I sought to make this place as like a globally appreciated space that you have immediate access to.”

Laster is also striving to break certain stigmas attached to art, specifically what can and can’t be considered “fine art”. She’s doing this by creating experiences for visitors to enjoy when viewing the gallery.

“We just try to create a new experience, in a new concept what art and art making is,” Laster said, “And what’s considered art for the space so that there should be something for everyone.”

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward is a producer for the “Wisconsin Life” project and can rest easy after he finally found the perfect jar of homemade dill pickles at the farmer’s market in Madison. … just like his Grandma Shirley use to make!

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