At the same time that the University of North Carolina Board of Governors is preparing to shower $2.5 million on a white supremacy group to try and make the “Silent Sam” problem go away, some smart people in Virginia have found a better place to spend scarce dollars to help formulate an intelligent response the plague of Confederate statues.
The following news story by Ned Oliver of the Virginia Mercury explains:
Kehinde Wiley unveiled his 27-foot-tall response to Richmond’s Confederate monuments in Richmond Tuesday. According to his agreement with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which paid $2 million for the bronze sculpture, he can cast two more full-size editions.
Where would the artist like to see them go?
“It’s a really important question to ask,” Wiley said Tuesday. “Obviously the South has any number of these types of monuments and it’s a really great replacement act or confrontation with history. But it’s also kind of cool to see it in places like New York, where it’s just like, ‘What the fuck is that?’ It’s like, Times Square, it fell out of the sky. And there’s kind of a weirdness to it, which as an artist I kind of enjoy as well.”
Wiley also floated a potential international destination. “You know, Africa, might be interesting. I do a lot of work in West Africa and building art studios there. There’s a lot of promise. I don’t want to give any one location, but I could totally see this being a series of interventions that has legs.”
The director of the gallery that represents Wiley, Sean Kelly, said he’s already been approached by institutions interested in purchasing the second and third editions, which have not yet been cast.
“We really wanted it to be unveiled here as a permanent work before we started any further conversations,” he said. “I’m almost certain they’ll either go to major museums or public institutions — hopefully around the world.”1 of 3
Wiley said he was inspired to create the work during a 2016 visit to Richmond, where the VMFA was hosting a travelling exhibit of his work. His first monumental-scale sculpture, it depicts a Black man in a hoodie with dreadlocks astride a muscular horse, closely mimicking a sculpture of Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart a few blocks from the museum on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Read more