Yesterday, I was one of an estimated crowd of 68,000 that gathered at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin to have their voices heard in protest...and support...of Governor Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining. It was a peaceful rally and it felt good to be part of this historic event. After a walk around the square, I headed inside to the rotunda. Though I lived in Madison for 21 years, worked right across the street from the capitol and walked through this beautiful building many, many times, I've never seen it so electrified with the passion and commitment of this great state's electorate. Especially significant to me were the four panels of glass mosaic work on each of the pendentives which make the transition from the octagonal form of the rotunda to the circular form of the dome. I did a little research and found the following information on the State Historical website:
Between the four arches in the rotunda are pendentives, which make the transition from the octagonal form of the rotunda to the circular form of the dome. The four pendentives of the rotunda are decorated with four panels of glass mosaic works designed by Kenyon Cox, for a total cost of $20,000. Kenyon Cox, born in Warren Ohio, (1856 - 1919) was an important American painter, draughtsman and art critic. He also painted murals for the Library of Congress and the Capitols of Iowa and Minnesota.
Cox's mosaic panels are twelve feet high and have an average length of twenty-four feet. Each mosaic consists of approximately 100,000 pieces of glass tile and represents Wisconsin's three branches of government (the legislative, the executive and the judicial) and liberty - the foundation of all power in a free country. "Legislation" is represented as a powerful older man with a long beard who holds a stylus in his right hand and is seated by a sphinx symbol of wisdom. A young man holding a leading staff in his right hand while his left hand rests upon a great sword represents "Government"- the executive power. "Justice" is represented by a young woman seated in a lion throne, who tests the scales in the balance to demonstrate the purely judicial function of weighing one cause against the other. "Liberty" is represented as a young woman wearing the traditional Phrygian cap of red, but is otherwise dressed in two shades of green, the color of youth and hope. Her right hand guards the ballot box while her left hand points upward.
As you can see, Liberty is the foundation of all power in a free country and Justice tests the scales in the balance to demonstrate the purely judicial function of weighing one cause against the other.....that's what this past week has all been about.