On Saturday evening May 7, Joshua Gilstein, at Gates of Heaven in Madison, hosted a night of painting, reflection, and social justice titled This Is Madison. The event brought together 25 students and young professionals who created a three-paneled mural of downtown Madison. Each panel highlighted injustices in our local Madison and Wisconsin communities, including sexual assault on college campuses, LGBT inequalities, and racial inequalities.
As people entered the space, they gravitated towards the canvases and were instructed to let their thoughts and emotions guide their brush strokes. They brought life and color to a canvas that was dark with the unfortunate realities of our community. Throughout the event, they also had the opportunity to step inside a sound booth to record their reflections on the current state of Madison and respond to questions related to our theme this year.
“What voices of wisdom inspire you to make change in your community?”
The goal of the event was to show that although we regard Madison as a liberal place, we perpetrate injustices found all across the country.
Wisconsin Assembly Bill 469, which died in committee in February 2016, sought to designate bathrooms and changing rooms by biological sex and chromosomes in Wisconsin schools.
We know that these issues are happening around the country, but we can be uncomfortable confronting them in our community since that would require admitting that we are part of the problem.
Yet we have the great opportunity to make a positive impact right where we live. By starting these conversations and bringing these issues to light, we can pursue Tzedek and Tikkun Olam, and help those in need.
Joshua will display the finished piece at our exhibit beginning on June 2 at Hillel, where you will be able to both see the mural and listen to the voices of those that created it.