Christina Persika has always wanted to paint a mural. Yet after all of her hard work, the hours of sweat and tears this multi-talented artist has poured into her craft, she never thought she’d attain that dream so close to home.
Last summer, the Wisconsin painter completed her first mural a stone’s throw from her Wauwatosa home. Her creation was part of the NOMAD project, and it kicked off what might be the most exciting year of Persika’s painting career thus far.
“It was a huge accomplishment for me to be able to realize my dream of painting murals,” she says, “and on top of that, to be able to do it in the place that I call home and have it become a fixture of the neighborhood.”
Since her mural in Tosa, Persika has painted murals for commercial and residential properties around Milwaukee. Her work caught Emma Daisy’s eye, and the curator invited her to be a part of the Bayshore project.
Persika describes her style as “dreamy and whimsical meets a little bit modernist.” Her diverse influences range from nature to philosophy to Scandinavian design and a blend of 60s and 70s nostalgia.
“My aim is to make inclusive art that is accessible and life-giving for everyone by merging the worlds of design and fine art,” she says. "For this mural, I wanted to pay homage to harmonious Mother Nature while imagining a lively piece dancing with terrazzo-like patterns, color-blocking, and butterflies."
“It’s really exciting and different for me,” she says. “It’s a unique combination of working on a commercial property that is being reimagined, while teaming up with Artist Uprising to bring the vision to life. I was part of a really talented cohort of local artists.”
The project didn’t come without some challenges, though. Persika normally aims to immerse herself in the community and setting in which she is painting, and loves to form relationships with the people who will soon be viewing her work. Social distancing threw a wrench in her plans, but Persika persisted, balancing safety while still meeting people and getting a good lay of the land. Then there was the mural itself.
Persika’s paintings are all intricate stories, and she wanted to continue that pattern at Bayshore. However, given the mural’s street side setting, the artist knew she’d have to get clever with her presentation of this particular story.
“Since the mural is quite long and winds around, you can only take it in bit by bit while you’re up close,” she says.
Therefore she painted it in such a way that both drivers and walkers can admire the full piece at their own speed. True to form, Persika’s Bayshore mural reveals her eye for creating experiences with the viewer in mind.
“I knew I needed to create something that would be bold and impactful from far away, and still feel like a powerful narrative when you’re right there, walking alongside it.”
Photography by: Sam Li