Paper Monuments from New Orleans — led by Bryan C. Lee Jr. and Sue Mobley – grew out of the takedown of four Confederate monuments in the city last year. Rather than look to replace the toppled figures and move on, Paper Monuments has gathered hundreds of under-told stories about the city’s history on posters designed by artists and storytellers, and wheat pasted them across New Orleans. They have been tapped by the city of New Orleans to help re-imagine public spaces around empty pedestals.
Art Historian Kirk Savage is one of the nation’s foremost experts on monuments. Savage is the author of several books including Monument Wars and Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth Century America, which was recently reprinted in an updated edition from Princeton University Press. Savage traces how so many confederate monuments were installed on public lands, who initially paid for them, and how they reinforced practices of white supremacy. In recent projects, he is collaborating with artists on permanent and temporary monument projects.
Artist Hank Willis Thomas is a leading thinker on monuments and one of the co-founders of For Freedoms, the largest public art campaign in the history of the United States. Thomas worked with Monument Lab last year in Philadelphia on the prototype monument All Power to All People, a monumental-sized afro pick installed across from City Hall. He also produced Raise Up on the grounds of the National Peace and Justice Memorial in Birmingham. In this episode, we are also joined by Evan Walsh, a photographer and For Freedoms Communications Coordinator.
Welcome to Monument Lab, a public art and history podcast. Each episode, we will be talking to artists, activists, and historians about the monuments we have inherited from the past and the people and movements who are critically engaging them now. These are the people building the next generation of monuments through stories of social justice and solidarity.