Artist’s New Sculpture Offers New Approach to Confederate Monument Debate
In the US, we seem to be having a national conversation on race. Not the planned, designed kind that some (perhaps unreasonably) envisioned, but a show-stopping, pathological-family type of conversation full of surprises, good and bad. Two strands of the conversation—the slaveholding history of colleges and universities and what to do with Confederate monuments—overlap in a recent CityLab story on Titus Kaphar’s public sculpture of Samuel Finley, Princeton University’s fifth president, called Impressions of Liberty.
Kaphar’s monuments reverse the reversals of power to show that leaders in the country’s fight for liberation also owned slaves.
Kaphar sees this sculpture, which is part of a larger exhibit at the school by the artist, as an entry into the national race and Confederate monuments conversations. He says, “My proposal, the new line of thinking I am trying to insert into the narrative and dialogue, is that rather than just taking these things down, we can engage contemporary artists to make work that actually pushes back against these public monuments.”