A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus is incorporating art activism into his career as a professional artist and teacher in India.
Matthew Braun graduated from UW Oshkosh in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in studio art with emphases in painting and printmaking.
While in school, Braun served as a printmaking and photography lab assistant. He spent the rest of his free time in the Arts and Communications Center “working and creating.”
Before its official opening in 2012, Braun had the opportunity to work with the John Michael Kohler Art Center to initiate The Sheboygan Project. The project is an initiative that brings the street art movement to Sheboygan to defeat the notion that art must remain in a museum.
“Matt has an interest in collaborations and integrating the visual arts on multiple levels,” said UW Oshkosh art professor Gail Panske.
The collaboration and social dynamic of The Sheboygan Project was integral in kick-starting Braun’s use of art as a form of activism.
After graduating from UW Oshkosh, Braun traveled the United States as a freelance artist, incorporating activism through his work. He began teaching art in Bhaktapur, Nepal, in 2014 as his first international teaching experience. Ideas that centered around mindfulness and worldly awareness were incorporated in the projects that he led. Upon his return to the United States, Nepal was rattled by an earthquake.
Braun’s passion for art activism made an appearance at that time, spurring him to sell 4-by-6 images he had taken while in Nepal. He sought donations to ease the economic impact of the quake. From this very personal experience, Braun learned about the power that art has in changing attitudes and minds.
“Art is a form of empowerment, solidarity and a means to find peace in the world,” Braun said.
His teaching experience in Nepal, led him to pursue a master of arts degree in art education from Maine College of Art.
Braun graduated in spring 2017 and took a job at Ascend International School (AIS) in Mumbai, India. He works as the primary art specialist at a school that places great emphasis on its innovative educational techniques.
“The school is on the cutting edge of education and gives me the freedom to explore different directions within art education,” Braun said.
In addition to his teaching position at AIS, Braun volunteers with Dharavi Art Room, a nonprofit organization located in Dharavi, India. Centered in the second largest slum in Asia, Dharavi is a city within the larger city of Mumbai with more than one million people living in less than a square mile of space. The goal of the Art Room organization is to provide, “a safe space for children to play, learn and express themselves through art,” Braun said.
Dharavi Art Room offers a number of art workshops for children and women to attend that range from photography to paper crafts. Currently, the Art Room is raising funds for a printmaking project that allows students to experiment and learn in a supportive environment. Braun facilitates this project, hoping to eventually share the children’s work in a group art exhibition.
“The kids are all very excited about the course,” said a representative from the Dharavi Art Room. “He has already had two sessions with them and they are loving the activity.”
The Art Room is currently looking for assistance in assembling printmaking kits for Braun’s project. If interested in donating to the Dharavi Art Room, visit their Crowdfunding page at https://milaap.org/fundraisers/printdharaviartroom
- Study art at UW Oshkosh