Throughout Virginia, the conversation about confederate monuments is a sticky one. So a new art exhibition in Richmond is making the conversation visual. It’s an effort to have more voices heard in the debate about the future of confederate statues on Monument Avenue.
The show is called Truthful History Heals. It includes paintings, sculptures, reimagined historical markers, and reinterpretations of the Robert E. Lee Monument.
Lora Beldon is cochair of Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond and one of the show’s organizers. She says the show will offer a different way for people to talk than they would at a typical public forum.
“There tends to be three or four people with sort of the loudest voices and get to be heard the most and so the question came, what if it wasn’t verbal? What if it was visual? Would we get more response and ideas?”
Bill Harrison is executive director of Diversity Richmond. He says he anticipates some anger from the public. But he says the conversation is open to all.
“I encourage people who have problems with this to come to the exhibit because yesterday I was here when a lot of the art was being delivered and I sat in one of the gallery rooms and I read the road signage, and I shared last night, it was like going to church: just me and silence and those words and they really did have an impact on me.”
Spencer Turner is one of the artists in the show. Turner’s painting, called “Rebel Cause,” is an elaboration of a photo he took in which he covers a confederate sculpture with a Ku Klux Klan mask.
“So it’s really to ask the question, how should we see these sculptures? What do they represent for people when see them in this romantic way or idealized way. What does that mean for people?”
Truthful History Heals runs from June 2nd to August 26th.