We had the good fortune of connecting with Fatima Laster and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Fatima, how do you think about risk?
I’ve been told often that I’m a risk taker, but honestly, I don’t know if that is true. The things I pursue and commit to I naturally believe I can get done no mater what arises. I can see potential and get excited about the process and possibility of what is to come. So while people project the characteristic of risk taker onto me, I think it could boil down to me not having the innate fears about trying that most might have or I might have lower aptitude to see the limitations or dangers it pursuits. I like exploring and creating and I know I don’t like being retrained or told something is not possible for me.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
5 Points Art Gallery + Studios is a conscious redevelopment of formerly Black-owned funeral home to a mixed-used art space in my childhood neighborhood on the north side of Milwaukee, WI. The space includes an art gallery with gift shop, artist work studios and residencies, and culinary arts kitchen, all doubling as a community gathering venue within the neighborhood. 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios is rooted in serving as a hearth for representation, exploration, collaboration, professional development, and business expansion in the visual, culinary, and other art genres for artists of color. It exposes the arts and related jobs to an underserved market.
5 Points Art Gallery + Studios is a manifestation and amalgamation of all my former and current professions and acquired skillsets through my life’s journey. I’ve worked as a commercial banker, artist, interior designer, made jewelry, learned to sew, and served as a project manager for a small construction firm. Developing 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios definitely was not easy nor a linear path to success. The journey prior to and through it has been wrought with a lot of trials, failures, and retries after unfavorable and sometimes deflating learning experiences. For me, the critical factors to overcoming the latter, has been persevering in face of challenges and doubts (whether self or extrinsically imposed), doing critical self-reflection to learn how I contributed to my failures AND successes, maintaining integrity and sincere relationships needed to help emerge from or circumvent pitfalls and get referrals to additional resources and opportunities, and having an unyielding belief that if I keep moving, all these random things I’m doing will fall into place…which it did.
In 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios, you’re getting the authentic me. From the beautiful but disarming interior ambiance, laden with hip-hop and R&B music, cloaked with a mix of vintage and modern décor, enriched by contemporary mixed media art and by the spirits of the artists that have graced the space, to the airy urban garden on the exterior, arranged with tall untamed wild flowers, weeds, vegetables, herbs and fruit trees, it’s all 100%, unapologetically me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d of course start with 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios as it is bustling with intriguing art, music, life, activity, and interesting people on the daily basis, then create an art tour around the city of BIPOC-ran and other art spaces. Then I’d take my friend to eat and drink at Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant as they have excellent food and flavorfully strong margaritas, Lisa’s Pizza, The Uppa Yard for jerk chicken, or host a potluck with other artists for an even greater food, libations, and conversational exchange. Finally, I’d try to encourage my friend to do a bike ride through the city and end up at the Lakefront to take in our beauteous Lake Michigan.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I don’t know where to start and I don’t want to single anyone out because it has taken a whole global village to cultivate me. I can probably sum it up by thanking my parents, other family members, friends/mentors and their families who have become my family for putting up with my defiance and rejection to taking conventional life paths and providing support in all ways imaginable, in spite of their own apprehensions, while I explored different pursuits.
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