After writing my research paper on the sprawling but methodical associations of the neoclassical and white supremacy, I decided to do an examination of the neoclassical architecture and art on campus and how they play into depictions of places of white privilege. Furthermore, I also examined several pieces of art on campus that show pieces of art that embody inclusive and welcoming interpretations.

 

This is the front of the Chambers building:

 

 

It has the Davidson motto “Alenda Lux Ubi Orta Libertas” which translates to “Let Learning Be Cherished Where Liberty Has Arisen.”

The buildings are decorated by columns of Doric pillars with a Renaissance-style dome that we know as Hance Auditorium, or better known as the Thursday afternoon Humes lectures.

 

 

The neoclassical has founded the country’s architecture from a place of white privilege. Our style of authority, money, and power was founded by the white men who chose to usurp classical Greek and Roman values for America. This makes the Davidson motto even more ironic, considering that the neoclassical architecture they wrote their motto of liberty and learning for all represents a country that was not founded from a place of liberty. It is known that despite building our country on the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson and the notion that all men are created equal, there was still slavery. This white privilege is what we founded this country on and it is seen every time we pass by the massive white columns of Chambers to go to class. Furthermore, Davidson is a place of privilege. Not everyone gets to go to Davidson. The percentages of students of color are ridiculously low here. The class of 2022 was 67% white and only 50% needed financial aid. The neoclassical architecture of Chambers is a reinforcement of the idea that Davidson is a place of white privilege. This means that we must not be complicit. We must reclaim this narrative. The work we do in Humanities does reclaim this narrative and the following pieces of art on campus are representations of the inclusivity we offer here at Davidson.

 

This is the Watson Life Sciences Building, which also features neoclassical columns.

This is the “Wind Sculpture I” which is the fiberglass creation depicting a ship sail billowing in the wind by Yinka Shonibare [1].

It was originally unveiled in Central Park in New York,  but now is in front of the E. Craig Wall Jr. Academy Center. Wind Sculpture I is meant to be a metaphor for the natural movement of people around the world, since Shonibare is Nigerian-born but lives in London. The vibrant colors reflect the history of human movement and mingling using a mingling of colors that are referenced as “African” textiles and Dutch wax prints. This beautiful piece works to counteract the white privilege we see in the neoclassical architecture around campus. It shows the different backgrounds of people coming together and represents the inclusivity that Davidson offers.

 

This is one Antony Gormley’s figures, that are collectively known as Another Place [2].

This installation is in front of the library. Unlike the white marble statues I discuss in my research paper, this sculpture is bronze, rigid, and features a realistic human body. Gormley is said to have made sure that they all face the sea and are modelled on his naked body. This acceptance of body positivity inclusivity and bronze material are the opposite of the neoclassical white supremacist sculpture we see in many spaces today.

 

This is William Tucker’s Homage to Rodin.

It is completely opposite the idealized, white sculpture we see in Ancient Greek and Rome. However, the shapeless bronze lump is supposed to depict a chunk of bone or limb of a giant that has the capacity for infinite metamorphosis. [3] It is what we chose to see of it. This is the complete opposite of neoclassical sculpture, which is in the idealized form of the athletic human body. It celebrates the idealized and hyperreal form of the human body. Instead, this is a shapeless lump that represents a chunk of a body that is up for you to transform in your mind. This promotes a good sense of body positivity at Davidson to show that there is not a hyperreal ideal that we measure beauty by. Instead, we celebrate all forms of the body, as seen in the pieces of Tucker, Shonibare, and Gormley.

 

 

[1] Lee Sullivan, “New York City Artwork Destined for Davidson College, ” Herald Citizen, March 29, 2018, http://www.lakenormanpublications.com/herald_citizen/new-york-city-artwork-destined-for-davidson-college/article_d8eb7f1a-336b-11e8-a244-a328338ddb90.html.

[2]  “Gormley’s statues stay out to sea,” BBC News, March 7, 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/merseyside/6428935.stm.

[3] Michael Brenson, “Review/Art; William Tucker explores The Shapes of Prehistory,” The New York Times, October 13, 1989, https://www.nytimes.com/1989/10/13/arts/review-art-william-tucker-explores-the-shapes-of-prehistory.html

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