Imagining UNC’s Future with Art is a response to our times: past, present, and future.
The removal of “Silent Sam” demonstrates how the present and the past are connected, how symbols of white supremacy and their deep-rooted messages of racism continue to create inequities in our communities and on our campus.
The statue’s removal also created an opportunity to move forward, using art to initiate open dialogue for a better future. We called on UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty, staff and alumni to offer their creative works, murals, sculpture, installation, documentary, performance art, or some combination, giving funding preference to interdisciplinary teams that include both artists and non-artists. (Image opposite - "Confederate Soldiers Monument, Durham" by artist Ben Hamburger)
A Statement from Malinda Maynor-Lowery
Monuments are art, and they reflect values—they are not historical instruction and they do not reflect a historical understanding (though members of society who would like us to believe in their versions of the past have consciously labeled them as “history,” and the public is divided over whether that is at issue). In fact, what is at issue with these monuments are values, and who gets to decide what represents a community’s values. In our Center’s collaboration, we’ve worked to define public art, and we’ve worked to determine what values public art should express. Collectively, we arrived at an important premise for our work: a few cannot legitimately determine, on behalf of the many, what to commemorate, and doing so will ultimately result in public works of art that neglect the complexity of the individuals commemorated and emphasize the values of some to exclude others.
If would like to learn more about issues surrounding monuments, White supremacy, and movements to change entrenched injustices, click here for resources curated by the Center for the Study of the American South.
In addition to the artists, contributors to this effort include:
- Terri Lorant | Administrative Manager, Center for the Study of the American South
- Denver Dan | Videographer and virtual tour designer
- Jackie Sizing | Video editor, researcher
- Sydney Simpson-Vos | Video editor
- Jacqueline Lawton | Creative Research Consultant & Professor of Dramatic Art
- Malinda Maynor Lowery | Director, Center for the Study of the American South & Professor of History
- Melody Hunter-Pillion | Video editor, website coordinator & Associate Director of Communications and Strategy, Center for the Study of the American South
Special thanks to Elizabeth Manekin/Ackland Art Museum, Ben Hamburger, Randall Kenan, Jennifer Ho, Chris Faison, Dasan Ahanu, Bernard Herman, Joseph Jordan, Bri Sikorski, and the staff of Southern Cultures and the Southern Oral History Program