Community Canvas: Taylor McAda’s Vibrant Mural on Madison’s State Street

On April 21st, 2024, hundreds of volunteers accompanied four local artists in Madison, Wisconsin for a public painting event to help decorate the 400-600 blocks of State Street. This project is the first embodiment of the city of Madison’s pedestrian mall experiment, set to kick off in May. Taylor McAda, Promega Senior Graphic Designer, was selected to design and paint one of four original 20-foot circle murals.

In December 2023, the Madison Arts Commission (MAC) reached out to Taylor asking if she was interested in painting a mural. Taylor had previously submitted work for another project, and was not selected, but the style of her submissions resonated with Karin Wolf, Arts Program Administrator for the MAC, and influenced her decision to propose a new opportunity for the local artist. As this would be the first mural Taylor’s ever attempted, she fully embraced the challenge. She had just one week to come up with her design that would draw people in to “Flock to State.”

As the event approached, Taylor recruited some fellow Promega colleagues to be part of her crew and help support her with the painting process. She decided on a “paint by numbers” method, creating grid lines on the street and assigning numbers for each person to paint. The Promega crew met in the morning for painting supplies while the city blocked off the street from pedestrians and primed the base. When asked about the significance of her colleagues’ support, she said, “When people show up for me like that, it means a lot to me,” adding, “That’s my community.” Through this experience, Taylor emphasized the learning of how important it is to ask for help when you need it. “That was a 20-foot mural. I couldn’t have done that all that by myself.”

Read further about Taylor’s contributions in this article and watch a timelapse of the process from start to finish here!

When reflecting on her first experience as a muralist, one of her main takeaways is to let go of some of her perfectionist tendencies. As a graphic designer, much of her work at Promega is done digitally, and although she created this design on a computer, everything had to be hand drawn onto the State Street pavement. “It didn’t come out exactly like my drawing. There’s a hand drawn portion to this, which is obviously not going to be as pixel perfect as the computer.” However, the immense joy, excitement, and support from her community eliminated any doubts stemming from perfectionism. “The happiness that this has generated in comparison to things that aren’t perfect is not even worth it.”

As a designer accustomed to tackling a wide range of work at Promega, Taylor is used to moving quickly and efficiently from one project to another. As her mural resonated so positively with members of the Madison community, this project provided her the opportunity to humbly reflect and appreciate her work on a deeper level. “People are sending me pictures. They’re going down and taking pictures by it and being like I know her. This really brought a lot of happiness for people that I just wasn’t expecting.”

The Future of Madison’s Pedestrian Mall Experiment

The murals, along with hundreds of polka dots and stencil designs, are a vibrant representation of Madison’s official bird, the plastic flamingo. And they’re expected to last for six months! Starting in early May, the 400-600 blocks of State Street will feature the new street art, along with benches, planters and other art elements, including plastic flamingos as high as six feet. Once the experiment is underway, the blocks of State Street will be closed to non-emergency traffic at 3 p.m. on weekdays and after 10 a.m. on weekends. 

View more photos from this inspiring event on our corporate Instagram.

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Riley Bell

Riley Bell

Riley earned her B.S. in Life Sciences Communication and a certificate in Global Health at UW-Madison. She is a Marketing Coordinator at Promega.

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