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An exciting collaboration named “Seed the Vote” is being brought to life by the Kohler Art Library, the Art Department, and the Morgridge Center for Public Service, all on the UW-Madison campus. The “Seed the Vote” exhibition explores the topic of civic engagement and encourages people to exercise their right to vote. As part of this initiative, twenty artists’ books and eleven works of art will be displayed throughout the Kohler Art Library from October 1st-December 31st, 2018.

“It has been a great opportunity for the artists to push themselves towards something more broad politically, as opposed to identity politics, which often relates to their work,” says Art graduate student Mariah Tate Klemens. “It has been interesting for the artists and it has encouraged them to think about things in a slightly different context, which is the goal of the exhibit altogether.”

Civic engagement, or advocacy for the public good, is addressed within the works through a variety of themes: immigration, voting rights, civil rights, human rights, inequality, the environment, gun control, and politics.

“You have many people coming in and spending contemplative time within these spaces,” says Professor Derrick Buisch with the UW-Madison Art Department. “The project seems like a perfect fit between the Kohler Art Library and the UW-Madison Art Department to do some curated, interesting projects.”

The art exhibit is not the only initiative these groups are taking on to promote civic engagement across campus. The UW-Madison Libraries, including Kohler Art Library, participating in The Big 10 Voting Challenge. The initiative is to achieve the highest eligible voter turnout rate and/or achieve the most improved voter turnout among the 14 Big Ten institutions. With the November midterm elections on the horizon, the initiative hopes to drive home the point that each and every vote matters.

“We are in conversation with the other Big 10 schools about encouraging people to vote,” says Buisch. “In the art department we know we have several graduate students that are civic minded. There’s a real center of gravity for our art graduate students working on social justice issues. Putting an initiative together along the lines of civic engagement was not hard, and we are all excited to see the outcome.”

Presidential Seal by Anna Lehner (2018)

In addition to the ongoing exhibit dates, on October 25th, from 5-7pm, there will be a reception held at Kohler Art Library, in conjunction with “VoteFest”, a weeklong series of campus events to rally the vote. Artists will be on hand to talk about their work. At the reception, visitors can make their voices heard by composing a speech bubble for a card designed by UW-Madison alumna Tracy Honn called “Speak for Liberty.” Students with the Morgridge Center for Public Service will be present to answer questions and to encourage participants vote.