How We Gather

Mural Commission for Working Draft Beer Company / 2018

My mural for Working Draft, to represent their values of process, sustainability, and the unique identity of Madison.

Click to read the full Artist Statement

When I first met the team of Working Draft, they shared three things that are important to them—process, sustainability, and the unique identity of Madison. We discussed the importance of process, and the value of people getting to see firsthand how things are made. We discussed how that focus on process supports sustainable sourcing and investment in the local community. We discussed the team’s vision of a space that endorses the arts alongside the making of great craft beer. From these initial conversations, I sought to create something that would resonate with the people who love this city.

I’m a big believer that art has the power to transform the spaces we share, both physical and mental. You can often tell how much people care for one another by how they treat their shared spaces. I also care deeply about the connection between the arts and the skilled trades. Both require a culture that values human labor and ingenuity. Both require a culture that sees beauty in process and seeks mastery of craft. The things people make are deeply entwined with their individual identities, and the pride of their communities.

Image-wise, the hands in this mural emphasize the importance of the hand in the creative process. The cupped hands allude to gathering, and also to Madison’s beloved lakes and isthmus. The four main ingredients of beer are present in the mural, a nod to why Working Draft is here, and also why all of us are here, to enjoy great craft beer in the company of people we care about. Together, the four elements of beer become a showcase of what nature and human ingenuity can create. Together, the hands and arms create a social space, a place of connection.

For the word nerds out there—“gather” comes from the Old Dutch root gaderen, which means to unite, to assemble, and to have companionship. “Social” comes from the Latin root socius, which means friend, companion, and ally. “Place” refers to open space, and “space” comes from the Latin root spatium, an area, a room, and an interval of either space or time. There is something really lovely about the idea of “space” being both the physical space we share and the time we spend together. I hope, as you read this, you are finding time and space to enjoy something special, in the company of those who make your experience of a place memorable.

Mural Art About Process, Sustainability, And Community

Close-Up of Beer Ingredients in Mural Art

Section of Mural Art with Hands Representing an Isthmus

Mural Art Completed at Dane Arts Mural Arts

Jenie Gao Painting Final Details on Mural

Mural Art Installation at Craft Brewery

Artists in Front of Completed Mural

Interaction at Craft Brewery in Front of Mural

Full Room of People at Craft Brewery with Mural Art

Friends Hugging in Front of Mural

Bar of Craft Brewery with Giant Mural Art

Owner of Working Draft Brewing Company in Conversation with Artist, Jenie Gao

Friends Gathering at Craft Brewery with Mural

Mural Artist, Jenie Gao, with Craft Brewery Mural Behind Her

Mural Art about Process, Sustainability, and Community

Title: How We Gather

Medium: Mural, painted on polytab and installed directly onto wall surface Dimensions: 6.5 x 26 feet

Lead Designer and Artist: Jenie Gao

Production Team: Amy Zaremba, assisted with painting and installation
Emida Roller and Lauren Newby (intern), assisted with installation

Photo Credit: Latasia Dhami

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