Lindsey Cherek has been creating art since she was old enough to hold a pencil.
“I’ve been an artist since I was a child. I can’t remember a time in my life when art wasn’t my priority,” she said.
The local Menomonie artist,s heart sank when she heard that one of her public art displays had been defaced just a few short weeks after it went up on a wall outside of Stacked Eatery in December
“My work is an extension of me, so it kind of felt like an attack on me and my ideals and values,” she said. “At the same time, it adds evidence to why this art needs to exist. I have to have a backbone and be super unapologetic. No matter what ... I gotta keep doing it.”
The vandal defaced the artwork by scribbling the words: “Like we didn’t know ... This stems hate” on the original canvas. Shortly after Cherek repaired the painting, it was damaged a second time when someone attempted to take it down, tearing the outsides of the canvas. Fortunately the painting itself was left untouched.
Cherek said the vandal was caught the second time and arrested.
“How can somebody have that kind of visceral response to an art piece that’s about empowering queer women of color?” Cherek asked. “That’s just homophobia coming to the surface.”
A gofundme campaign to help Cherek repair her damaged art was started on March 2 by a local art supporter. The supporter has never met Cherek but stated on the campaign that she believes the community can benefit from the presence of her artwork.
The gofundme campaign has so far raised $325 of a $1,000 goal and will help Cherek continue replacing her damaged work.
“I’m really grateful for the people that want help,” Cherek said.
Cherek describes her artwork as mixed media, street art, feminist art, queer art and activist art. Her work outside Stacked is just one of multiple pieces in a series that is a reflection of her values as a feminist, and she desires to promote those values by displaying them in public.
“I wanted it to be a platform — a message of empowerment. This specific series is based on people who experience oppression at an intersectional level based on their identity,” she explained.
Cherek describes herself as ‘a queer (non-heterosexual) woman who is both an activist and artist’. She moved to Menomonie to attend UW-Stout in 2013, but after two years of studying, decided to change things up and head to California. There, Cherek studied art history, printmaking and feminist theory for one year before returning to Stout in 2016 to study painting and drawing.
Before she could graduate, Cherek ended up finding her dream job working as a color manager at Ambient Inks in Eau Claire, a screen printing company that makes apparel and other merchandise for bands around the world.
Cherek said she is committed to promoting her values through her public art displays and plans to add more of her artwork to other locations in Menomonie and wants to expand into Eau Claire as well.