CofC student exhibit debates alternatives to Calhoun monument for Marion Square

A tree of light sounds like a great alternative

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The first Calhoun monument was erected in 1887, the second in 1896 - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • The first Calhoun monument was erected in 1887, the second in 1896
Outshining the Shadows in Charleston's Marion Square, an exhibit from CofC architecture students, is now on display in Addlestone Library. The final course project for ARTH 396 (the Architecture of Memory), Outshining the Shadows features student designs for memorials, monuments, and counter-monuments, answering the sculpture of John C. Calhoun. The exhibit will be on display through the summer.

The Calhoun monument has been a topic of contention in the city recently; in December the city's History Commission approved language for a plaque to provide context for the Marion Square monument. City Council then deferred the matter. The current monument, completed in 1896, pays homage to John C. Calhoun, who, among other designations, served as the seventh Vice President of the United States.
The proposed "John C. Calhoun Anti-Monument" erects a wall to "[shield] the public from the lies told by the grandeur of his column." - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • The proposed "John C. Calhoun Anti-Monument" erects a wall to "[shield] the public from the lies told by the grandeur of his column."

During the original erection of the monument (today's iteration is that 1896 version), in 1887, U.S. secretary of the interior Lucius Q.C. Lamar gave a speech lauding the accomplishments of Calhoun and saying this about slavery, "Every benefit which slavery conferred upon those subject to it: all the ameliorating and humanizing tendencies it introduced into the life of the African, all the elevating agencies which lifted him higher in the scale of rational and moral being, were the elements of the future and inevitable destruction of the system."
Needless to say, the controversial monument serves as fodder for new ways of representing Charleston's history in Marion Square. In Outshining the Shadows, students designed projects that ranged from a shrine to African ancestors to a "tree of light" to a peace monument. Check out each of the proposed designs (hey, maybe the city will take heed and pay attention to these) below.
See related PDF OutshiningCatalog.pdf

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