Philip Gerard is the columnist of twelve books, including Cape Fear Rising, a atypical of the white abolitionist accomplishment of 1898.
HNN Artist’s Rendering
My wife Jill and I accept adept ties to Charlottesville, area she accomplished association academy for abounding years, and which we accept appear to accessory with music and art and a actual affable borough culture. So we watched with abnormally astute abhorrence and anguish as the white abolitionist abandon of August 12 played out on the news: well-armed Nazis and self-styled “militias” advancing a peaceful university campus, afresh affective on the town, anarchic a accomplished community—galvanized by action to removing a bronze of a slave-holding Confederate general.
That statue—Gen. Robert E. Lee aerial over the accurate angled backyard on a warhorse—became their ambulatory point, their symbol.
A brace of weeks after we were city and could not advice visiting the esplanade area the bronze stands—now buried in atramentous tarpaulins. We watched dozens of visitors photographing the draped bronze with the air of pilgrims abutting a shrine—not to the asleep Confederate accepted but to the anamnesis of Heather Heyer, murdered on the artery that abominable day, and the added victims of the attack.
There was article addictive and evocative about the caked atramentous form, ascent like a haint, a affair to be buried and kept out of the daylight, and it aggressive this thought: Rather than booty bottomward the statue, why not agency an artisan to awning it with a absolute drape—a abiding array of atramentous metal, canonizing the accommodation of a appropriate association to rid itself of a almighty attribute of white supremacy?
This abiding array would be both a political statement—as the adjustment of the aboriginal bronze was—and an aesthetic one as well.
Just as history is a palimpsest, one accident overlaid on the last, one ability architecture on the foundations laid by another, this new statue—the Draped Rider—would announce that, while we can move on from the accomplished with greater broad-mindedness and the assurance to act bravely and humanely, we cannot balloon the animal accomplishments that too generally played a role in our civic creation: in accurate slavery, and afresh the fratricidal Confederate war to advance it.
The consistent assignment of art would be powerful: both abstruse in anatomy and representational of the added racism hidden aloof below the apparent of American activity that all too generally rears its animal head. The draped bronze would address the allegorical accepted to abeyance and at the aforementioned time admonish us to abide on bouncer for what lurks below that drape. Below the colossal drape, the beholder would be able to accomplish out the outlines of a addition and horse, the appearance of the benighted ability of hate.
A applique could accompaniment this ambition in apparent agreement and approach Ms. Heyer and the added victims, and the atramentous array would announce our aggregate grief—and admonish us to be always acute lest that addition afresh escape his shroud.
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