UW-Oshkosh alum and Appleton artist Irineo Medina has always been interested in public art and community service.
“I graduated and moved to Appleton and wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with a Bachelor of Fine Arts,” Medina says. “So, I started knocking on doors. My first opportunity was painting the Love mural on Wisconsin and Durkee.”
After the mural, Medina painted with youth from the Appleton Area School District (AASD) for the Summer of Service (SOS). SOS is a service-learning initiative for AASD students, usually provided during the first three weeks in August.
“These projects have snowballed to more and more work weaving together art and advocacy, which is where I am at right now—painting and engaging the community to uplift and improve sense of belonging,” he says.
The surrounding community is Medina’s inspiration for his public artwork.
“It comes from the untold stories of those that might find themselves in the background,” he says. “Whether that’s literally painting community members on walls to having their stories inform the way that I paint them. I feel a strong responsibility to uplift marginalized populations, specifically black and brown peoples.”
He is also adamant about helping the youth of the community.
“It is deeply important to me that we can see ourselves in a beautiful way, especially the youth of our community,” Medina says. “As they grow and find themselves, it is critical that I do my part to help them see themselves as beautiful, powerful and welcomed. This is why this thought process has woven itself into my work from conception on.
“I am always keeping the community and sense of belonging at the forefront. The content of the image comes together in the mind’s eye. Once the image is on the wall, a few helping hands make the act of creating fun and memorable. I love connecting with our people from all walks of life. Over the years I have learned a lot and have been reminded why community is such an important part of my process.”
See more of Medina’s work in a collaborative show at UW-Oshkosh this March. Find him on Instagram at @_i.m.art_ or irineomedina.com.