In the past I have only ever done art for my own gain. I never had to take others ideas into consideration. I had complete control of the work and the process. Collaborative public art has several facets that I had not even considered before working with Dane Arts Mural Arts through the UW Service Learning class. While working with DAMA I was able to take part in collaborative artworks. DAMA’s public works take many ideas and skills into consideration when creating a project and the final public art has an extensive process behind it. This involves gathering ideas, discussing, gathering materials, teaching artists, planning dates and times, and so many other steps I’m sure I was blind to. The process of creating the art can be just as important as the finished product.

In my time with Dane Arts Mural Arts, I had the opportunity to make little contributions to several projects. This work allowed me to experience how community members participating in DAMA’s projects often feel, like a small part of something bigger, something lasting. Each work has so many hands involved. These pieces are cohesive yet being created by so many. The final work is unified. This reflects the students, community members, and artists that come together to create one piece. Even after the work is completed it brings people together. Public art connects people who may just be stopping for a closer look or viewing it daily. The community has a shared appreciation for public art.

Often cities want public art but do not have organizations with the resources and dedication to public art that DAMA has. My time with DAMA was so insightful to how projects run start to finish. There was an incredible amount of flexibility and optimism displayed by the DAMA staff. I am so grateful I was able to work alongside the DAMA artists and contribute to public art in Dane County. My view on public art has drastically changed.


-Mikayla Sholly, UW Service Learning Class