Both / And —
Tolerance /

City of Madison
Madison, WI
Completion date
June 2019

“Both/And — Tolerance/Innovation” marks a special place of intersection on the State Street pedestrian mall on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus. The installation speaks to a confluence of ideas and cultural diversity coming together in a dynamic cause-and-effect relationship.

“Confluence” has been used to identify this special place on the State Street pedestrian mall on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus. Confluence represents the merging of the City of Madison with the University. “Both/And—Tolerance/Innovation” speaks to the confluence of ideas and cultural diversity coming together in a dynamic cause-and-effect relationship. 

The installation represents a space where reality merges with abstraction. The space between the stone (reality) and the stainless-steel vertical sculpture (abstraction), embodies Aristotle’s philosophy of knowledge, “being qua being,” the metaphysical reasoning at the heart of learning. It is the space between “knowing” and “believing.”

“Walking from Memorial Union, the steel and rock looked like they had always been there. The steel beams lined up and came alive — they could be UW graduates in caps and gowns, a choir singing outside the church, or a group of concerned members of our community, gathering in formation to march down State Street to the Capitol.” - Lori DiPrete Brown, Global Health Reflections, June 2019


Our goals for this installation are guided by three distinct and mutually inclusive elements: Story, Structure, and Site. The story for this project is about expressing the nuanced space between ways of knowing. The story of Confluence is the form that knowledge takes, a way of “knowing” that merges the world of research and discovery (the University Library on one side) with the world of belief (symbolized by three different religious denominations on the other). Site-specific and contextual cultural textures inform the selection of the “rock” and its position as a standing stone – a touchstone. The “rock” in turn informs and influences the shape of the abstract metal plates. As the title “Both / And” suggests the story is a type of logic used in decision-making that allows for a greater variety and scope of outcomes than a rigid either/or decision-making process. This approach is useful when comparing two or more possible tracks or outcomes in a real-world setting.


The monumental metal sculpture is fabricated of angel-hair stainless-steel plates. The individual plates are laser-cut with patterns that allow light to move between the plates to create a transparent moray effect. A cylinder, cut through the plates, is positioned to highlight the position of the sun during the solar equinox. The viewer can orient themselves to this position in the spring and fall, to be enlightened with sunlight. The installation incorporates LED lighting to create a dramatic, glowing ambiance, thoughtful of the site as it changes from day to night. The stone, native Wisconsin granite, lit from below, appears to “float” at night. The monumental stone, like ancient Dolmen or standing stone, transforms from a mere rock to a “touchstone.” The companion sculpture is internally illuminated, an iconic beacon seen from a distance in both directions. The installation marks a new destination where people gather, and new traditions begin.