The Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee County Transit System on Sunday unveiled a Milwaukee County bus decorated with an anti-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mural. The project, part of the Art Museum's ArtXpress Milwaukee internship program, was designed and created by Milwaukee-area teenagers.
The mural, which covers the entire bus, features an ICE agent with his arms crossed in between two hands attempting to touch, another ICE agent arresting a small child, instructions on "what to do if ICE comes to your door, and the message "Milwaukee is immigrant strong."
"MCTS approved the design of this paid advertising piece from the Milwaukee Art Museum," said Milwaukee County Transit System spokesman Matt Sliker. "The advertisement is scheduled to run on the bus for the next month."
Sliker stressed that "opinions expressed in paid advertising do not necessarily reflect the opinions of MCTS."
"We reviewed the content and it met our standard advertising guidelines," he added. "Every year, the Milwaukee Art Museum purchases ad space on a bus to display their finished teen artwork. Additionally, they pay for the bus to park at their unveiling event so that teens can take photos of their work. Art is about freedom of expression. This artwork that’s temporarily displayed on the bus showcases what’s on the minds of the youth who participated in this program."
The teenagers selected for the ArtXpress Milwaukee program, which is in its 18th year, worked with the Museum's education department to design and then wrap the bus in the mural. The students have a choice of decorating either a bus or a bus stop and this year chose to decorate a bus. The Museum allowed the students to decide for themselves what the theme of this year's mural would be.
"We don't support or condone any political message," said Art Museum spokesman Josh Depenbrok, "but also do not censor any artists, including our interns."