Our Town Everywhere is a unique portrait-making project led by Madison Public Library’s Bubbler program. Throughout the past year, the project has sparked connections, conversation, and collaborative creation in libraries, parks, and other community spaces.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to reflect this project back into the communities that have participated,” said Bubbler Program Administrator Carlee Latimer. “We’re hoping many see familiar faces within these exhibitions, and are reminded of our collective humanity and creativity.”

The project, which involves creating stamped self-portraits, is made possible by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission, secured by Madison Public Library Foundation. The grant allows Bubbler staff to fund and mobilize the program, bringing Our Town Everywhere to life throughout Madison.

At the foundation’s recent annual fall fundraiser, Ex Libris XIII: Local Flavor, guests were invited to make stamped self-portraits. The Bubbler is working to bring the project not just to the libraries, but to other locations in the community to gain a full representation of portraits created by people from all walks of life.

“I love that anyone, at any age, at any skill level, can create a wonderful portrait of themselves,” said participating artist Alicia Rheal. “I am always amazed at how different each and every portrait is.” 

Our Town Everywhere is based off a project called Our Town Nashville in Tennessee. Letterpress printmaker Bryce McCloud traveled around Davidson County inviting people to create stamped self-portraits. The completed project included more than 1,000 portraits and was added to the Nashville Public Library’s permanent archives.

In Madison, Our Town Everywhere hopes to build a full, representative collection of portraits by the end of 2024. The project currently sits at 810 portraits and 49 community partners. 

Visit the Bubbler website to view portraits and to find out how you can make your own self-portrait.