Museum offers to melt Lee statue to create new works of art

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) – A museum in Virginia offers to melt a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee who was at the center of a violent White Nationalist rally in 2017 in Charlottesville and create a new piece of public art.

The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center submitted its proposal last week to Charlottesville city council and city manager, The Daily Progress reported. It outlines a plan to create the new artwork through a community engagement process, then donate it to the city to be installed on public land.

The proposed project titled “Swords Into Plowshares” received almost 30 letters of support from organizations and individuals.

“Recontextualization is not enough,” the museum said in the proposal, noting that wherever the statue goes, it will remain “an icon of violent white supremacy.”

The UVa Democracy Initiative’s Memory Project, Open Society Foundations and Virginia Humanities have already pledged funding for the project totaling $ 590,000. The project is estimated at $ 1.1 million, including funding for a project manager, according to Andrea Douglas, executive director of the Jefferson School.

Although the Jefferson School has not submitted a monetary offer to the city for ownership of the statue, it would take full financial responsibility for the project without any financial obligation on the part of the city.

The council voted to remove the statues of Lee and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in June. He requested declarations of interest from entities interested in owning one or both statutes, which were withdrawn in July. Dozens of entities and individuals responded.

Last month, the city called for full proposals that would specifically recontextualize the statues. He received five proposals. The Jefferson School is the only local entity and one of two entities in Virginia to submit proposals. The other proposals were submitted by the Ratcliffe Foundation in Russell County; the LAXART museum in Los Angeles; the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia; and a private citizen in Utopia, Texas.

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