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Jewish Museum Milwaukee Exhibit Highlights Social Justice Through Art

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Courtesy of Jewish Museum Milwaukee
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Upward Mobility, 2016, Art © Luba Lukova"

The past year has been difficult for museums. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many scrambled to move their work into the digital space. As the pandemic continued, there was the question of how to keep visitors engaged in a nontraditional museum space.

Now, as in-person exhibits begin reopening, there’s a question of how to engage visitors in person and safely.

For the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, the last year has been challenging but hasn’t stopped the museum from bringing in new exhibits. Its latest, "Luba Lukova: Designing Justice," features a retrospective of Luba Lukova's work, which has become an iconic symbol of social justice movements around the world.

“One of the silver linings, if you want to say that in the midst of everything that is going on, [the exhibit] almost feels more poignant, more fitting, more timely that this is happening right now because social justice is what is on everyone’s mind,” says museum curator Molly Dubin.

Lukova describes herself as a blue-collar artist who tries to tackle the issues that face people in their everyday lives. She uses color to draw the eye in and then tries to engage the viewer with commentary about an issue.

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Credit Courtesy of Jewish Museum Milwaukee
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Health Coverage, 2008, Art © Luba Lukova

“It’s open for interpretation, but it’s straightforward in addressing the issues,” says Lukova. “It’s trying to visualize issues that we all know in an unexpected way, with some metaphoric twists.”

Her work has been displayed in The New York Times, by the Obama administration, and has been used by groups all across the world to highlight injustice.

“This idea about the struggle, the fundamental justice that we all want and need in our world is always there and that’s, to me, the fundamental topic of art,” says Lukova.

Her work will be on display in the Jewish Museum Milwaukee until Jan. 31, 2021.

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as producer for Lake Effect. Most recently, she was a director and producer for The Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm, Chicago Public Radio.
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