How do we remember and respond to the wisdom of our ancestors? What events from our history should we honor with a monument?
Created by Terese Agnew with a team of artists, writers, and other collaborators, Writing in Stone is an evocative, theatrical installation of monuments to transformative ideas and events from Wisconsin’s past. It invokes Wisconsin’s legacy of civic engagement, action, and legislation to further education, civil liberties, and social justice.
Wandering among the towering monuments, visitors will encounter an inspiring range of movements, people, and events, from Ezekiel Gillespie’s 1866 Wisconsin Supreme Court case giving African-Americans the right to the rise of environmental ethics, the moral impetus behind the birth of the Grand Old Party, the migrant farmworkers’ movement, the 1982 bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and much more. A grove of “Speaking Trees” is given life with a sound work by Rob Danielson, weaving together oral histories by Walter Bresette (Ojibwe) and the Menominee Forest Keepers, poetry, and sounds recorded in nature.
In developing themes for the project, Agnew collaborated with a wide range of Wisconsinites: artists, writers, historians, and ethicists, as well as individual citizens enlisted through a book club campaign. She posed the questions that drive Writing in Stone to her collaborators in this way:
“With each hasty legislative change in recent years, the fundamental issues at stake were rarely discussed by elected leaders with the historical background they deserved. How or why did things come to be the way they were? What did our ancestors tell us? Leave us? Preserve for us?”
The James Watrous Gallery thanks Wisconsin Academy members, donors, and the following Writing in Stone exhibition sponsors for their support: