WATCH: video of mural production

Even though the pandemic protocols didn't allow in-person visitors at their facility, when a classroom develops an idea, gains approval for a new identity, and requests assistance in seeing out a vision -- you adapt! Thanks to the flexibile efforts of teaching artist Audifax and Dane County Jail classroom teacher Tina, along with a lot of communication, zoom workshops, several handoffs of supplies, and some good old paint-by-numbers planning the students were able to complete the project in time to meet their goal for some classmates to take MMSD graduation pictures in front of their new Metro Panthers mascot mural.

Get an in-depth look at the project and its deeper impacts on students and the facility on Audifax's website.


The Story of the Metro Panther

Madison Metropolitan School District's Metro Middle and High School has existed within the Dane County Jail facility for a very long time (25 years!), and until now, it has been a hidden treasure. Though hundreds of students have graduated over the years, completing diplomas bearing the names of high schools far and wide, the world of Metro has remained largely behind the scenes and out of people's view. As the class of 2021 emerged from the shadow of COVID-19, the question was raised:  Why doesn’t Metro have a symbol of school pride? 

The students of Metro take great pride in their accomplishments, and the teachers of Metro take enormous pride in their students. The time had arrived for this to manifest in a physical form. Over the course of the summer of 2021, many student-led conversations took place, and the decision was made: Metro needed a mascot. After a series of brainstorming sessions, and several ideas and suggestions (Metro Monsters? Metro Chameleons? Nahhh!)  students collectively agreed the Panther best represented what Metro is all about. 

As an animal, the Panther represents strength and pride. But it was through the lens of the Marvel character, Black Panther, the idea began to take root. On the surface, Wakanda is a beautiful and majestic place, though from above it appears wild and undeveloped. However, once one breaks through the protective barrier, and looks below the surface, it is a place of creativity, prosperity and advanced technology. Like Wakanda and its people, Metro and its students are so much more than what appears on the surface.

Through the creative genius, artistic talents, and perseverance of the Fall 2021 Metro student class, and with guidance and mentorship through a collaborative partnership with the Bubbler and teaching artist Audifax, the Metro Panther classroom mural is now a symbol of school pride, a part of their learning story, and the backdrop to high school graduation photos. Go Panthers!

Picture of METRO PANTHERS mural hanging inside the Dane County Jail classroom

Picture of "Metro Panthers" mural created by Audifax and students at Dane County Jail