Melanie Ariens is a multi media artist with a passion for the Great Lakes and freshwater issues. Her work is her advocacy, communicating about and celebrating our shared water resources. As Artist-in-Residence for Milwaukee Water Commons, she plans and facilitates creative, water inspired art experiences for local water leaders and community groups believing art has the power to inspire and engage the community in social and environmental issues.
Melanie received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1992, specializing in painting, drawing and printmaking, but has always enjoyed mixing it up, collaborating and experimenting, allowing the concept determine the media.
Since childhood, I have always found hate strong and scary, and have felt downright terrified if I ever felt close to feeling it. Many years back, when I was fearful I was feeling true hatred, my father said that when we feel that way, we needed to recognize that we were in a place that required more compassion. Nothing productive comes from a place of hate and no healing can happen unless there is civil discourse and an effort to understand each other. This might sound funny, but a few years after that incident, I don’t know where he found them, but he gave me some No Hate running socks – just the word HATE on the cuff with that red circle with the slash through it. I still have those socks and my teenage daughter has swiped them from me, but I am glad that message is still running around my house.
I was exhausted and distressed after 2016 campaigning season and election, and still am, and you may be, too. My way of dealing with this has been to design this iconic image and promote the very basic, but often difficult, idea of not hating. Others have promoted NOH8 in the LGBTQ community and beyond. I had a deep desire to contribute to that effort and expand on it to an even broader concept of inclusion and love, for Immigrants, Blacks, Veterans, Disabled, Women, and any other group that feels marginalized, including people that don’t think like me.
This has been a rich and healing endeavor, with friends joining me in the studio to print, people taking the posters to marches, hanging them in their windows, and gifting them to friends. I have been generous with the design and have allowed other organizations to print the design to spread this positive message in their community. At this point, I estimate 2000+ posters have been printed. I hope this story along with these prints & stickers, is healing for you, too! And if you have read this far, I am so deeply appreciative of your time and attention in thinking about this with me. Join me in the NOH8 community.