The new sculpture recently unveiled at Waunakee High School demonstrates not only this community’s appreciation of education, but the arts, as well, and it may have been partly inspired by the village’s creative economy initiative.

For the past several years, the village’s economic development efforts have included that initiative to identify artistic and creative endeavors within the area and support artists.

Three Imagination Celebration events have showcased Waunakee’s arts and ingenuity, whether in studios, basements or workplaces. It’s the sort of creativity taking place in the high school’s Innovation Center, or Fab Lab, its Performing Arts Center, and at dance studios, music classrooms and anywhere community members focus on expression and innovation.

It’s what makes us human.

The Illuminating a Path sculpture makes a statement about the value of an artistic monument to express appreciation for one of this community’s outstanding strengths – its school district. Many individuals and organizations contributed so that Los Angeles sculptor Michael Kalisch could be commissioned to collaborate with students and community members on the piece – a 4-foot stack of books illuminated at night – celebrating Waunakee’s tradition of educational excellence.

Over the years, the village’s creative economy initiative has revealed the many ways innovation and creativity are at work within this progressive community, one that has embraced new ideas and sought to implement them.

Visible signs of the creative economy initiative’s work can be seen throughout the community. Through Dane County’s Dane Arts Mural Arts program, artists have worked with high school students to produce a mural on the Waunakee Furniture ETC building, along with colorful, informative paintings around storm drains reminding residents that pollutants dumped into them end up in our waterways.

Local artists have also created public art pieces, such as the Trains on Main, Barns on Main and this year’s Mutts on Main, a cooperative project among the village, Chamber and Endres Manufacturing.

While the creative economy initiative grew out of Waunakee’s economic development efforts, the intention now is to give it legs of its own, allowing it to proceed as its own entity. One step has been to hire Go North Branding to brand it. They proceeded to give the initiative name – Create Waunakee.

Keeping with the creative economy initiative’s intentions, the branding involves fostering creativity among residents, as well. Community members are invited to create original logos to brand Create Waunakee and enter them in a contest. There’s even a prize for the winning entry – $100 in Waunakee Chamber bucks, or WaunaBucks, to be spent at any Chamber member business.

JPEG, PDF for PNG files can be sent to or hard copies can be dropped off in person to Village Administrator Todd Schmidt at the Waunakee Village Hall. The deadline is June 7.

For area artists, the contest offers a unique opportunity to showcase their work while promoting something they are passionate about. Hopefully, the folks at Go North Branding will receive a number of homegrown pieces to give Waunakee’s creative economy initiative a clear identity or brand.

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