‘Tis the Season for Memories

December 20, 2010 at 8:10 am Leave a comment

This season is a great time to relax and remember the past year.  Here are a couple of wonderful books on memorials to enjoy as you sip your favorite wintertime beverage.

National World War II Memorial. Photo by author.

Monument Wars: Washington D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape, by Kirk Savage, published 2009.  In this book Savage, an art historian at University of Pittsburgh, provides a comprehensive history of D.C.’s monuments from the district’s founding to today.  While demonstrating the changing character of the landscape, Savage goes beyond the Mall as he discusses memorials that haven’t received much press, such as the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism located north of the Capitol building.  Also he questions the need for monuments and the idea of collective memory.

This book is well respected by scholars of American art.  Savage won the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum’s 2010 Charles C. Eldredge award for Monument Wars.  Earlier this month Savage gave a lecture about D.C. memorials. You can watch the video at http://americanart.si.edu/research/awards/eldredge/webcast2010.cfm.  The Smithsonian American Art Museum‘s press release about the event offers some background information on Savage, http://americanart.si.edu/pr/library./2010/eldredge2010_savage.pdf.

Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism. Photo by author.

Erika Doss’ Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America, published 2010 also deals with collective memory.  As the title implies, Doss, an art historian at University of Notre Dame, is interested in what she perceives to be an “obsession with issues of memory and history and an urgent desire to express and claim those issues in visibly public contexts.”  Her scope is extensive.  In addition to discussing familiar war memorials and the D.C. landscape, Doss includes monuments in various parts of the U.S.  The diverse subjects include victim monuments such as the Salem Village Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial and the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial that honors the three African-American men lynched by a mob in 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota.  Doss holds  the book together by grouping the memorials in terms of emotional content under chapter headings- Grief, Fear, Gratitude, Shame, and Anger.  This far-reaching book will keep you engrossed.

Entry filed under: Art, Material Culture, Memorials/Monuments, Public Art, Public Space, Scholarship, Sculpture. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

November ArtHop: Slowing Down at Erin Shirreff’s ICA show Promising Presentations: Memorials+

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