Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves
In Standing Soliders, Kneeling Slaves Kirk Savage writes about the artistic construction of sculpture and public art depicting race and Civil War Memory. I have read quite a few texts analyzing similar subjects, but Savage pays more attention to the detail of the Sculpture/public art. Kirk is interested in both materiality and art as a way to analyze race and the Civil War and that comes through in analysis. This combination of political analysis with artistic analysis adds depth to the conversations surrounding monument and public memory. That said Savage's book has some major flaws, namely the lack of inclusion of women. Savage gives a passing reference to the impossibility of using Black women in a sculpture focused on citizenship because women were never considered citizens. While this may be true, a further analysis of why this was true or other ways women were/could have been evoked through public art would have been helpful. In some ways, Savage implicitly eliminates the voices of Black women from his story. it is important for scholars to be able to read silence and lack in the same ways that they read abundance, and Savage could have made a clear analysis about the lack of women invoked rather than only giving it a cursory mention. The lack of women in Savage's analysis was made even more explicit through his discussion of confederate monument building. While there are few mentions to women, Karen Cox and other scholars have shown that confederate monuments and memorialization was larger a women driven project and as such it should have been made more explicit and integral to his larger understanding. While many facets of this book are important, the lack of gender analysis is egregious.
That said, Savage has given me new ways to think about my own object. While I have been thinking about the racialized policy and racialized forms of capitalistic plunder that go into its production, I haven't necessarily given much thought to the way its design and existence create and construct race itself. While I am not sure this is an argument I can make about my D.A.R.E shirt, I will certainly keep it in my mind as I am analyzing my object.
What can we gain from analyzing art and historical memory in concert?
What can monuments tell us about the study of material culture?
What would engaging gender changed about this analysis?