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Ras Ammar Nsoroma

An artist known for his murals, Ras Ammar Nsoroma was born Kevin Wayne Tate on June 20, 1967 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When he was only a teenager, Nsoroma became aware of the work of Reynaldo Hernandez, an inner-city mural artist, which inspired him. Nsoroma graduated from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts in 1985 and attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Nsoroma completing his first mural as a senior in high school.

In the late 1980s, Nsoroma moved to Chicago and studied at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He returned to Wisconsin and began working as an artist, designing three-dimensional murals on the Fond du Lac Avenue overpass for the north and south wing walls and bridge abutments. In 2000, two of Nsoroma’s murals were nominated for inclusion in the book, Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride: African American Murals, a collection of 200 murals spanning three decades of African American mural art. In 2004, Nsoroma designed a mural to celebrate the radio station 1290 WMCS-AM’s 25th anniversary of African American community programming; entitled The Tradition Continues. Nsoroma utilized photographs and created a compilation of twenty-five portraits of men and women who participated in the growth of the station.

Nsoroma has painted more than forty murals, including pieces in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as well as his hometown of Milwaukee.

Accession Number

A2007.334

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/29/2007 |and| 12/1/2007

Last Name

Nsoroma

Maker Category
Middle Name

Ammar

Occupation
Schools

Milwaukee High School of the Arts

Hawley Road Elementary

Bay View High

31st Street School

Phillis Wheatley Elementary School

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ras

Birth City, State, Country

Milwaukee

HM ID

NSO01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Know Thyself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

6/20/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Black Bean Soup

Short Description

Muralist Ras Ammar Nsoroma (1967 - ) painted more than forty murals, including pieces in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Milwaukee. Two of Nsoroma’s murals were nominated for inclusion in the book, Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride: African American Murals.

Employment

School

Pick 'n Save Warehouse Foods

Self Employed

Favorite Color

Indigo

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ras Ammar Nsoroma's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his aunt's practice of Islam

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers his conversion to Islam

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his father's reasons for leaving Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his parents' marriage and separation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his parents' personalities and his likeness to his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers the 20th Street School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma recalls moving frequently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers his early drawings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma recalls his art classes at the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers drawing the King Fearless Comics series

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes the Hawley Road School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers the blaxploitation films of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers his mentors and influences

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his artwork during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers his first public murals

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes Bay View High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes the creation of the Milwaukee High School of the Arts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma recalls his disciplinary problems in elementary school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his art training during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma recalls his scholarship to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his art education and internship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers his political influences

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes the Pan-African Revolutionary Socialist Party

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers travelling with Emerson Matabele

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his decision to pursue a career in art

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his work with the Chicago Public Art Group

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Ras Ammar Nsoroma's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers painting 'The Circle Journey'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his mural, 'Patchwork'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma reflects upon his artistic influences

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma recalls studying the Yoruba religion

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his artistic philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his work with the Wisconsin Black Historical Society

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his work with the Walker's Point Center for the Arts

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma reflects upon his depictions of religious figures

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his murals for the Ausar Auset Society

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma talks about the cost and time frames of his murals

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma talks about the murals in Milwaukee's America's Black Holocaust Museum

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes the Marquette Interchange mural, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma talks about the Marquette Interchange mural, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma talks about his mural, 'The Resurrection of Watts'

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma remembers his exhibition, 'JuJu'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his plans for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma talks about his organization involvement

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma talks about his wife and children

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Ras Ammar Nsoroma narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes the creation of the Milwaukee High School of the Arts
Ras Ammar Nsoroma describes his decision to pursue a career in art
Transcript
But what they did, they had this program in high school where you would go to school half a day and then the other half you could go to the art museum [Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] and it was called satellite program and you go to the art museum the other half and do courses there. So I got--I became part of that and then you had to have good attendance and you know good grades and stuff so that got me back in, in the swing of it and stuff and so but Bay View [Bay View High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] was the artist specialty school and then my last year in high school I guess they wanted a more centralized location and this, this was like right after that movie 'Fame,' I think and I think it might influence a lot. They, they put a lot of money, they had investors and they put a lot of money into the schools it was West Division High School [Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] and it was, it was more--it was more in the neighborhood where I grew up and they made that the art specialty school and before it was a law specialty school and they switched specialties with Bay View, so Bay View became the law specialty school, like law enforcement and stuff like that and [U.S.] military and ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] and stuff like that.$$Okay so they turned West Division which is was that a traditional black high school?$$Yeah it was traditional.$$And they turned it into the arts high school for the whole city?$$Yep and then they named it the High School of the Arts. So, so they came, my junior year they came over and did like a program and they recruited a lot of us from Bay View to try to come over to the High School of the Arts. So that's what I did, I went over there. I say that was my last year of high school and that was the first year the High School of the Arts.$$Now did you get any honors in high school for your art or? How, how, how was your art viewed in high school, how did they?$$The teachers took like interest in me, the art teachers they liked my work.$From there I just decided to concentrate on my art career and I was growing locs [dreadlocks] at the time. And I thought you know my locs would help me, help me in my drive and determination to continue this career because you know I didn't think anybody would try to hire me with locs. Locs weren't very popular then like the early '90s [1990s]. Maybe in New York [New York] or something but like as far as--$$So, it would kind of keep you in the arts because nobody would take you otherwise.$$(Laughter) And I found that out when I moved to Chicago [Illinois]. I tried to get jobs like through the school and stuff and everything would be fine over the phone when I would call and stuff and they say come on down and stuff and once I got down there, you know it was a different story. They saw my hair and stuff and you know I had, I had a lot of money saved. You know I didn't have to find a job right away 'cause I, I actually I was saving money. It was gonna be my back to Africa fund or something you know but I decided to go to school I used that money to you know to get me a place and live for a while 'til I you know I start making money so, but eventually you know I never got a job you know working at a Gap [Gap, Inc.] or, or vitamin store or wherever I tried you know. So I just, I had to keep working and doing art you know. That's how I made my money, I just kept doing art. So eventually I just--I just stopped. I was paying out of pocket at the School of the Art Institute [School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois] so you know I had to take time off to catch up paying and stuff and never went back.$$So you were never offered a scholarship or anything? Or did you try--$$I had a scholarship, it was a partial scholarship and then the rest I, I was paying out of pocket. I was paying the difference out of pocket because I didn't wanna take out any loans and stuff. I'm real cheap that way you know. I like you know I like to take care of myself. I don't like to be in debt and stuff so so the remainder I was paying like maybe four thousand [dollars] a semester out of pocket or so you know.$$That's a lot of money.$$Yeah. So then I still I think I might still owe, I'm not gonna say it on tape. But you know so I took time off and then I never went back and then I just kept doing my art you know as paying--I was doing my art anyway to pay for it, I just kept working.