Sometimes the most perceptive voice in a controversy comes from an artist who sees it up close.
Last week I mentioned that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond has just installed a monumental new sculpture by an artist named Kehinde Wiley, the first work of sculpture he’s created. And it might just be one of the most powerful works of art you’ll ever see.
Wiley based the form of his work on a 1907 equestrian statue of Confederate General JEB Stuart that sits prominently on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. In content, however, Wiley’s statue is quite different. Well, the horse is the same. But sitting on it in an equally heroic pose is a young African American man in street clothes with dreadlocks, torn jeans, and Nike shoes. The effect is overwhelming.