ON Newsletter - Summer 2023


From the Director

In this issue of ON, we’re thinking about dreams – not the stuff of sleep, but the kind of dreams we construct from our values and our knowledge of ourselves and the world. These are the dreams that can sustain us in hard times. Most importantly, they are the dreams that we can use to guide our actions.

As we learn in the second season of our Human Powered podcast, the dreams of people who are incarcerated today, and of those who have returned to their communities, can be profoundly changed through encounters with the humanities. Not only can the humanities help people dream new life dreams, but when incarcerated people have the opportunity to express themselves through writing and art and storytelling, they can change the narratives about incarceration that are available to all of us.

Listening lately to so many stories of human dedication and transformation by formerly incarcerated people, and folks who care about them, helped me dream a new dream: that as a state we come together to find ways to improve our justice system, making our communities kinder, safer, more equitable, and more resilient for all Wisconsinites.

Dena Wortzel, Director


In this issue:

Summer 2023

The Humanities Beyond Bars 

This summer a second season of our Human Powered podcast will be ready for your ears! This time, we teamed up former Wisconsin Poet Laureate, performance artist, and change agent Dasha Kelly Hamilton with public historian Adam Carr to bring you remarkable stories of people inside and outside Wisconsin prisons who are using the humanities to overcome the dehumanization of incarceration. The resulting stories challenge us to imagine a more just system—one that is good for all of us.

Read More ➞

Grant Spotlight: Art Against the Odds

Can the creative process transform individual lives and help us understand more about the more than 41,000 people who are living in Wisconsin’s prisons and jails? Debra Brehmer, the curator of an exhibition called Art Against the Odds, notes there are more incarcerated people making art than you might think, often without support, formal programs, materials, or instruction.


Continuing Grassroots

As the first year of Community Powered, Wisconsin Humanities’ new grassroots community resilience initiative, wraps up this May, we are excited to share more about the community-led projects that grew from the community engagement work of WH’s local staff.