Michelle Trujillo

Material Agency

Bodies 1: Milwaukee Waters is the first installation in a series shot on 16mm film that explores the magic and life of public bodies of water. Images for this film were collected from the Milwaukee River, a community pond and the shoreline of Lake Michigan (Milwaukee Bay area).

Throughout the 1800s, the Milwaukee River was used to carry sewage into Lake Michigan. The many tanneries, breweries and other industries lining the water, poured their waste into the river without any water treatment. Much work has gone into cleaning the water in the past decades and into removing dams, and flow barriers to increase fish passage. Much progress has been made and the water is much cleaner and safer than it used to be. However, the Milwaukee River Basin is still considered an area of concern (AOC). The main concern is the contaminants in the riverbed sediment such as PCBs, PAHs and heavy metals. My film focuses on the beauty found and restored within this area. My acknowledgement of this dirty past and work to be done stands in the recurring smoke stacks found within the film.



Michelle Trujillo was born and raised in South Florida to Colombian and Costa Rican Parents. The focus of her practice is to question and explore representations of Latinx culture, gender and identity creation. She works in both 16mm film and digital video and has an interest in alternative/DIY/Eco-friendly techniques. Her films have been exhibited in festivals, galleries and conferences nationally and internationally such as Alchemy Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Mimesis Documentary Festival and the Augusta Savage Gallery. She currently teaches in the Film/Video department at MassArt in Boston, MA.