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Confederate Statues and Carvings are Works of Art

I don’t think art is elite or mysterious. I don’t think anybody can separate art from politics. The intention to separate art from politics is itself a very political intention. – Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist.

Art can take many forms, sizes and shapes and comes in the form of sound, painting, sculptures, the written word, the spoken word, plays, lights, sports and common everyday junk.

Art can be beautiful, provocative, loved or hated, and even offensive. Art can be beautiful or ugly. Or simply ignored.

Art bridges the gap between mind and soul. Between thought and reason. Between the real and the surreal.

Art causes things to be pondered and discussed. And art is often something different to different people depending on the life experiences and perspective of each individual.

Pablo Picasso said, We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.

I think the more we try to define art the more we realize that art is impossible to define because art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Let’s take one of the most controversial works of art in modern history. In 1987 artist Andres Serrano put a crucifix in a glass container, filled it with his own urine and took a photograph. Most Christians were incensed with this despicable deed of desecration to such a Holy symbol. The fact that the taxpayers through the National Endowment for the Arts paid for this was too much for a couple of Republican US Senators. Wikipedia writes:

In 1987, Serrano’s Piss Christ was exhibited at the Stux Gallery in New York and was favorably received.[10] The piece later caused a scandal when it was exhibited in 1989, with detractors, including United States Senators Al D’Amato and Jesse Helms, outraged that Serrano received $15,000 for the work, and $5,000 in 1986[11] from the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts. Serrano received death threats and hate mail, and he lost grants due to the controversy.

But the most interesting thing about this photograph were the words of the artist himself on the meaning of the picture:

The crucifix is a symbol that has lost its true meaning; the horror of what occurred. It represents the crucifixion of a man who was tortured, humiliated and left to die on a cross for several hours. In that time, Christ not only bled to dead, he probably saw all his bodily functions and fluids come out of him. So if “Piss Christ” upsets people, maybe this is so because it is bringing the symbol closer to its original meaning.

So the artist himself was trying to show the horrible death Christ suffered and believed the world has lost the true meaning of the suffering depicted by a crucifix. It is such a commonplace artifact that people actually love and revere. But the thought provoking nature of the photograph has us immediately outraged and offended. But should such a horrible death hold a place of love and affection in our minds? Have we forgotten the suffering? Should we be repulsed by a crucifix?

I do not like the photograph, let me just state that for the record. It offends me. But after seeing the work and reading the artist’s statement, I agree that we should find the thought of crucifixion absolutely repulsive. Especially the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

But I also see the overwhelming love represented by such a horrible death and if nothing else, this photo I detest reminds me of that fact.

confederate statues photo

Photo by Gamma Man

So what of the Confederate Statues? And carvings on mountains?  Are they art? Or are they symbols of hate?

Well, the grandeur and magnificence of these depictions of famous men from the Civil War era surely qualifies them as art. But like art, the meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

People with a political agenda have created the narrative that these men were hateful racists who loved slavery and fought to preserve slavery in America. But the sad thing is, most people with this viewpoint simply do not know history. Most are a product of Democrat run propaganda facilities known as Public Schools.

I went through school at a time when the Civil War was taught for what it really was. Slavery was an issue, but less than 5% of Southerners actually owned slaves. What we learned was the heart-wrenching internal struggle Americans on both sides went through in the decision to secede or remain in the union. The struggle of brother against brother, son against father and a 4 year long war that killed 620,000 people.

We learned of the courage of a small number of rag tag soldiers in the South, mostly kids, that pulled up every ounce of courage and fortitude to last 4 years against a better funded and better equipped army from the North.

The battle strategies were fascinating. Not just on land, but on sea. From the first and second Manassas (Bull Run) to the Monitor vs the Merrimack to the battles all around where I grew up. As a kid I found Civil War bullets in my back yard and my Dad took me relic hunting a few times. The trees all had bullets embedded in them from the Battle of Cold Harbor. I played in Civil War trenches and in an old abandoned house that was used as a hospital and had blood stains in the wood floors.

Thoughts of keeping slavery was never taught. By the 1960’s that notion had died with the old South – a long time before. We were pulling down “White’s Only” signs from Richmond Department Stores and restaurants all over. And I get a lump in my throat thinking of the inhumanity people visit upon one another.

When I pass by monuments to those that founded this nation, fought in it’s wars or distinguished themselves in history, I don’t think of slavery, except for being glad it ended, I think of men who were called upon and answered that call. Not as slave owners, but as statesmen. As leaders who distinguished themselves in a war lost.

But I also think about the institution of slavery, more so lately as the protests and riots have become far too commonplace.

But as the artist of the photo “Piss Christ” was attempting to convey, sometimes we need a reminder as statues and crucifixes have become too benign. There is and was real pain in the institution of slavery and The Crucifixion. And tearing down Civil War statues makes about as much sense as banning crucifixes – which is to say, none at all.

But while the photographer was attempting to address the horrors of the death of Christ, the monuments serve as a reminder to most of us that America has always struggled with morality and eventually comes to the correct conclusion. We struggle with abortion, wars, and many other issues here that are ongoing.

Slavery was ended 150 years ago and is a part of the past. Leave the past and the monuments alone. It happened long ago.



About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

One Response to “Confederate Statues and Carvings are Works of Art”

  1. Liberty!

    Great Educational opportunities here! About to be squandered. As Obama liked to say, This is a great learning moment.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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