PROTOTYPES/PROPOSALS at Rhodes College’s Clough-Hanson Gallery presents prototype monuments from Monument Lab collaborators Kara Crombie, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Jamel Shabazz, and Marisa Williamson. The exhibition also includes living artifacts of the labs, samples of the public proposal process, and the culminating Report to the City.
From Philadelphia to Memphis, and across the country, we are in the midst of a reckoning over the power and purpose of monuments. This involves both clashes at local sites around the country and a widespread re-envisioning of what it means to build and engage monuments. This reckoning is, in part, a byproduct of our current electoral moment, but its currents run far deeper. For example, the removal of confederate monuments in a handful of U.S. cities was underwritten by years of organizing, most often driven by activists of color for racial and gender justice. Intersectional feminist, queer, and environmental activists also have called out the connections between public symbols and representative structures of power.
As we experience this ongoing moment of intensity and uncertainty around public monuments—especially those that symbolize the enduring legacies of racial injustice and intersectional modes of social inequality—we are reminded that we must find new, critical ways to reflect on the monuments we have inherited and imagine future monuments we have yet to build.