Archived News: This news release is more than one year old and may include outdated information.

(Speakers 1pm-1:30pm, Music and Children’s Activities 1:30pm-3:30pm)

The Madison Arts Commission invites you to celebrate and engage in art activism with Madison’s newest outdoor public works at the Monroe Street Festival on September 25th. The Machine, a mural painted by Black, queer artist Simone Lawrence, aims to raise questions and inspire action to advance social justice and racial equity.

Emily Balsley and Pajarita Charles, residents of the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood, led the charge that sparked the formation of the Monroe Street Anti-Racism Project (MoSAP) leading to the creation of the mural. MoSAP, a grassroots community organizing effort emerged in response to discriminatory, anti-Black flyers found scattered across their neighborhood in 2020-2021. In response, an alliance of residents joined forces to send a counter message of justice and inclusion to the neighborhood. The interest grew into an effort to use public art to raise awareness and stimulate dialogue about the critical need for ongoing action against racism.

View the mural, meet the artist and collaborators, enjoy music by DJ Ace, and participate in children’s activities on Saturday, September 25th. The MoSAP event will take place at Neuhauser Pharmacy, 1875 Monroe Street, Madison. Hear speakers from 1pm-1:30pm, and enjoy music and children’s activities from 1:30pm-3:30pm.

In their proposal to the Madison Arts Commission Annual Grant Program, Balsley and Charles described the project as a tool to help “represent a vision of what we want the neighborhood to be and look like—namely, one that is inclusive, diverse and equitable.”

Alder Tag Evers stated, "At the core of this effort is the desire to make Dungeon Monroe a more welcoming neighborhood. This mural is an exciting step in that direction."

The mural, now in its final days (and nights!) of painting, will be “unveiled” at the Monroe Street Festival at 1pm with speakers including artist Simone Lawrence, Mayor Rhodes-Conway, Madison Poet Laureate Fabu Phillis Carter, UnityPoint Health-Meriter Community Engagement Manager Corinda Rainey-Moore, and young people from a local youth group, Outdoors We Learn.

Simone Lawrence hails from the Bay Area, California and since moving to Madison, has worked on cultivating her lifelong passions that include art activism in an effort to educate and create conversation around the history of various art and social justice movements.

Balsley and Charles raised all the funds for the mural, commissioned the artist, secured the space located at Neuhauser Pharmacy, and engaged Alder Tag Evers, local businesses, neighborhood schools, and significant numbers of residents in the planning and implementation of the project.

The Madison Arts Commission supported the Monroe Street Anti-Racism Project through the Annual Grant Program which initiates innovative partnerships and sponsors diverse artistic activities to make arts and culture accessible and inclusive to all who live in Madison.

Media may use photos from this link: