Community-based art space provides more than 200 programs for emerging artists

Art space helps artist share work in the community
Community-based art space provides more than 200 programs for emerging artists
Courtesy of the artists

The Arts + Literature Laboratory is more than a physical space on the city’s east side. It exposes emerging artists to different ideas and helps those artists to share their work with the community.

ALL is a community-based, nonprofit contemporary art space in Madison. It offers more than 200 programs, including educational classes, live performances and monthly rotating exhibits. Co-founder Jolynne Roorda says ALL connects artists to viewers, each other and other resources that help develop careers.

The space offers workshops and exhibitions in visual art, literary works, performance art and music. Most of the people involved are emerging and early career artists from around Dane County.

Some local artists and arts nonprofits have merged with ALL, including Alaura Borealis, formerly of ArtWrite Collective. Now ALL’s education and outreach director, Borealis coordinates free art education courses for youth artists, particularly focused on arts education for marginalized communities.

Another program under ALL is CSArt, an adaptation of the Community Supported Agriculture economic model that exchanges art like a CSA distributes produce. CSArt encourages the public to invest in local artists. Ten different artists are selected each year, and 50 pieces of their work are distributed to program shareholders.

Weaver Dakota Mace participated in CSArt in 2017. She said the program allowed her unique cultural artwork to break into the local art scene – which is the outcome the program hopes to reach with all the artists it works with, according to Roorda. Fellow CSArt participant Faisal Abdu’allah, a visual artist, associate professor of printmaking and faculty director of The Studio at UW-Madison, also focuses his pieces on culture, specifically to question how it relates to race, identity and representation.

ALL staff members say giving artists, particularly MFA students, the tools they need to further their careers is key to keeping them in the area.