What We Do

About Us

SWAN Day MKE Mini Film Fest

As part of the SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day MKE exhibition, "Water: Reflection, Resource & Ritual," please join us for the SWAN Day MKE Mini Film Fest, a special screening of three films by Milwaukee women filmmakers:

The Water will Carry us Home by Gabrielle Tesfaye (7 min)
“Alice’s Garden" by Jenny Plevin (10 min)
“On Hands” by Laj P. Waghray (70 min)

April 18, 2019 // 5-7pm // Urban Ecology Center Menomonee Valley

For adults and teens. Pay what you can, at the door


Learn more about these amazing films:

The Water will Carry us Home by Gabrielle Tesfaye
image5Through living ritual and stop motion animation, "The Water Will Carry Us Home" tells the story of stolen Africans who are thrown off a slave ship whilst sailing through the Middle Passage. Upon falling into the ocean, the unimaginable happens when mermaids, who dwell in these waters, save their spirits.

Bio of the filmmaker:

Gabrielle Tesfaye is an interdisciplinary artist versed in painting, animation, film, puppetry and interactive installation. Tesfaye was raised in the United States as a first-generation American, to an Ethiopian father and Indo Jamaican mother. Her extensive international travel and exposure to multiculturalism in her life, echoes itself in her mixed media approach to art making and cross-cultural content. Her work is rooted in cross-cultural diaspora, Afro-futurism, Southeast Asian puppetry practices and cultural storytelling.

Alice's Garden by Jenny Plevin
Meet Venice Williams, executive director of Alice’s Garden, a community garden in Milwaukee. Venice shares her connections with rivers and water, and shows how the garden is using innovative water solutions that are a model for other communities nationwide.


Venice Williams at Alice's Garden

Bio of the filmmaker:

A graduate of UWM Film, Jenny Plevin used her experiences working with the film department’s Community Media Project to continue programing community film screenings and to teach and coordinate youth workshops in a variety of media. As the Education Director of Walker's Point Center for the Arts she coordinated artist workshops and taught a variety of media. She returned to work at doc|UWM in 2006, teaching students hands-on documentary skills while creating work with community partners. Jenny's art practice is centered on social justice and environmental issues using video, art installation and photography. Her most recent film “Alice’s Garden” documents an urban Milwaukee community garden, its relationship to the past and hopes for the future. Alice's Garden has screened at numerous national and international film festivals and won awards at the Splice Film Festival and The Water Docs Film Festival.

"On Hands" by Laj P. Waghray

"On Hands" is a feature length a non-linear film that I recently directed and produced for University of Milwaukee’s Look Here project. In a time when our experiences of the world are mediated through technology, this poetic film brings our attention to an essential way of experiencing it, by using our hands. By documenting their work with hands, we explore the satisfaction it provides, and how they are redefining what success means. A simple change in the focus of our daily processes can have a positive effect, and we are not thoroughly exploring it. Calling attention to the work of hands is even more relevant today, as we are surrounded by a virtual world.

Villaterrace stills

Bio of the filmmaker:

Lajwanti (Laj) P. Waghray, has an extensive background in film and activism. She pitched at the Tribeca film festival in 2017, was selected as a DVID fellow at Kartemquin Films in 2014. In 2012 she directed and produced a documentary, “Sleepovers” a 53-minute retrospective film documenting the coming of age of four suburban Milwaukee girls over the course of three sleepovers in 10 years. In addition, she co-directed the third film in Janet Fitch’s, 3-part series, Guns, Grief, and Grace in America. She collaborated with visual artist Nirmal Raja, documenting the lives of Indian grandmothers who immigrated to the United States. In 2008, Waghray co-produced Ramon Rivera-Moret’s documentary, On Calloway Street, a feature-length experimental narrative about immigrant stories in Queens, NY. In addition to her film work, Waghray co-founded Didi, which aims to end violence against women in the South Asian communities in Milwaukee. And is on the Board of Lynden Sculpture Garden, which builds programs to bring new, diverse members to the garden and offers a unique experience of art in nature.

Also on view in the gallery space: SWAN Day MKE 2019 Art Exhibition thru June 1st:

"Water: Reflection, Ritual & Resource" featuring artwork by 100 Milwaukee women-identified artists as part of the 12th International SWAN Day holiday! Learn more by visiting
Water: Reflection, Ritual & Resource - SWAN Day MKE Exhibition 


SWAN Day MKE is made possible with generous support from the Urban Ecology Center, Blick Art Materials, MOD GEN, WomenArts - SWAN Day, StateraArts, our numerous donors & volunteers!

SWAN Day MKE is Organized & Curated by Jamie Bilgo Bruchman
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


upcoming events


Email Sign-Up


* indicates required
Which Emails would you like to receive?

Connect Now

facebook instagram 2018 2 twitter linkedin

Get Involved

Become a member today!

Copyright © 2020 The Urban Ecology Center