Fresh Paint – “Lady Liberty, Inspiring Even in Pieces”

“Lady Liberty, Inspiring Even In Pieces”

Fresh Paint Post by Kunal Kang

The Statue of Liberty is the epitome of democracy in America. Having stood in New York’s harbor for over a hundred years, the Statue of Liberty is a shining beacon of hope not only to New Yorkers, but Americans as a whole. To me, it is such an amazing and comforting thing to see the Statue standing there on my ferry rides to and from the city every day. It provides me with hope for the future and reminds me of all the opportunities I have because I am fortunate enough to live here in America.

This personal feeling towards the Statue of Liberty was inspired in me by Hilarie M. Sheets article “Lady Liberty, Inspiring Even In Pieces”. This article tells about how an artist named Danh Vo “has been recasting a life-size Statue of Liberty” from copper, just like the original. Vo has called his creation “We the People”, a reference to the United States Constitution, but here’s the catch: Vo has been separating the pieces of his work and scattering them around the world after they are made. Several pieces of Vo’s work are now visible at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, but the pieces will be viewable at 15 select locations around the world once they are finished being made. Vo has talked about his work being “both a monster and a virus that can move fluidly and mutate as it is shuffled to new places”.

Officially, Vo has not revealed his intended meaning for his project but Susanne Ghez, a director at the University of Chicago, has said that “it raises the question of democratization in the U.S. and our history of imperialism”. By taking a well known symbol of American freedom and scattering the pieces, Vo is either trying to say that democracy and freedom is spreading throughout the world through America’s influence or that American freedom itself is being threatened and on the verge of being broken apart. Both messages are powerful (one good, one bad) and I think Vo realized this when he refused to comment about the meaning and purpose of his work. I believe Vo intended each individual to see his project and make their own personal decision about it.

I felt that Vo’s project exhibited America’s freedom being torn apart, although I do not feel that this is true. When I read this article, it affected me deeply because the Statue of Liberty has always been something so solid and everlasting. To me, Vo’s scattering of he pieces of his Lady Liberty represented the breaking apart of democracy itself in America because it contrasts with the unified and guided appearance of the actual Statue of Liberty. Also, the image of a recreation of an important American symbol being broken up and scattered around the world angered me because I felt it did not fully respect an important piece of American history. The only thing I could compare it to in my mind is that cutting up and scattering of the American flag, which many would consider a heinous act. Yes, American has been going through some hard times but it has never stopped being the leading symbol of hope and freedom in the world, seeking to help those less fortunate. Vo’s work, though unique and unprecedented, send a negative and unrealistic view of America that I do not agree with.

What about you? Do you think Vo’s work is celebrating or eulogizing democracy? How do you feel about democracy in America?

6 thoughts on “Fresh Paint – “Lady Liberty, Inspiring Even in Pieces”

  1. This is definitely an interesting topic to discuss about because of how significant and important the Statue of Liberty is to the United States and to its image. I can see the reasoning behind both views of Vo’s work. If I had to choose one view over the other, I would side with Kunal and his negative perspective on Vo’s work. The Statue of Liberty is a defined and distinctive art work that shouldn’t be tampered wth. Vo’s work is unique but risky, and I believe it will cause more harm than good.

  2. I wonder if New York is one of the 15 sites where the work will be “scattered,” because I’d like to experience it first hand; I’m intrigued by the ambiguities of Vo’s work.

  3. I think this is a really interesting topic because the Statue of Liberty is such an important symbol of the United States. Although I understand why people can view his actions in a negative way I would like to think that he intended to say that democracy is spreading. Yes, he is breaking apart the pieces and scattering them around the world, but the pieces can still be collected and put together. If he did want his original intent to be that democracy is falling apart, then his artwork also shows that democracy can still be saved and put together again.

  4. The meaning is definitely ambiguous, but I side with the positive interpretation. America is very influential, and democracy does seem to be spreading. Whether or not is a good thing is another issue, and maybe that’s why it can be referred to as a monster or virus. The places the pieces are in may be significant too, and the meaning could change depending on where it is. I wonder where the pieces will be or how it will be separated.

  5. The Statue of Liberty to me, doesn’t hold too much of a significance. Its been there all my life, yet I have never visited it nor have I really observed it. However, regarding the article about Vo, I view the purpose of his project differently than Susanne Ghez. By splitting up the Statue of Liberty and distributing around the world, I think of it as a gift for the world to cherish and appreciate and to share in the United States’ appreciation of it. As the statue was a gift from France, Vo is gifting the world pieces of it.

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