Madison, WI - In an exciting collaboration between the Madison Arts Commission and Madison College, artist Austen Brantley has returned to Madison to begin designing a commissioned sculpture. The self-taught Detroit artist known for his evocative figurative sculptures is set to create a unique public art piece for the residents of Madison’s Darbo-Worthington neighborhood.

Brantley, whose well-received exhibition Coarse was presented at Madison College’s Truax Gallery last May, is meeting with Darbo residents to learn more about their values and their aspirations for their neighborhood so that he can create a site-specific sculpture that reflects the essence of the community.

While he is here in Madison, Brantley is meeting with various stakeholders and making multiple presentations about his work throughout the City. He is offering a demonstration at Madison College on June 9 and 10, and a presentation to members of the Black Chamber of Commerce at their Mix & Mingle Series, but his focus will be on the residents of the Darbo-Worthington neighborhood, whom he will meet and greet with at a Shaved Ice Social on Monday, June 12.

Brantley will begin conceptualizing the piece while he is here and will take his impressions, ideas, and sketches back to Detroit to complete the design process in the coming weeks. With this project, the artist intends to provide a symbol of pride and a beacon of inspiration for the neighborhood and the city at large. The sculpture promises to embody the spirit of the Darbo community.

Brantley is recognized for his work that interweaves the themes of heritage, identity, and realistic portrayals of Black lives. This new piece will add to Madison’s growing public art collection and reflect the Madison Arts Commissions commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion.

The sculpture’s exact location within the Darbo neighborhood, as well as the installation date and unveiling are to be confirmed in 2024, with details forthcoming.

Nick Pjevach, Chair of the Madison Arts Commission said, "Austen Brantley is an emerging Black artist from Detroit, celebrated for his sculptures that reflect Black identity. His work has already been showcased in numerous exhibitions and public spaces across the country, and we are pleased that Madison College brought him to our attention and is partnering with us to extend his impact beyond their campus and into our community.”

The potential for this project was identified in the 2017 Darbo-Worthington-Starkweather Neighborhood Plan, which called for the City to consider making a public art/gateway feature to the DWS neighborhood, as a means of building up neighborhood pride and empowerment. Darbo is a culturally rich and diverse community neighborhood that includes Worthington Park, Starkweather Creek, an adjacent bike path, Richard Davis Dr, the Salvation Army and Will Green’s youth-focused organization Mentoring Positives, which has received recognition for its beneficial impact on the neighborhood.