The Vance Monument in downtown Asheville, June 2020./ photo by Jason Sandford

An Asheville professor of architecture/urban designer and a photographer/community activist and former Asheville resident have come up with a design to cover up the Vance Monument while a decision is made about what to do with the stone obelisk.

Doug Hecker, who lives in Asheville and is an associate professor at the Clemson University School of Architecture, and photographer Micah Mackenzie, issued their proposal as Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners were considering a joint resolution calling for the removal of two smaller Confederate monuments in downtown, as well as the establishment of a task force to decide what to do with the Vance Monument. The resolution is part of a wave of reaction to calls for racial justice after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

City Council unanimously approved the resolution at its June 9 meeting. County commissioners approved the resolution on a 4-3 vote during their meeting Tuesday. Read the full resolution here.

The monument was a tribute to North Carolina Gov. Zebulon B. Vance, who was born in Buncombe County. The monument cornerstone was laid in winter 1897, and the monument was finished in 1898. Vance was North Carolina’s governor during the Civil War and U.S. Senator during Reconstruction, who was born in Buncombe County. Vance owned slaves and helped stop the full granting of civil rights to freed blacks following the Civil War.

One section of the city-county joint resolution calls for the monument to be covered up until a decision is made about its future. Some local officials have said that should be interpreted to mean that just the base of the monument should be shrouded. Hecker and Mackenzie disagree with that idea.

Here’s their proposal:

“Upon passage of this resolution and until such time as the monument is removed or repurposed, it shall be shrouded in order to reduce its impact on the community and to reduce the risk of harm it presents in its current state.”
-From the City of Asheville and Buncombe County joint resolution on removal of Confederate Monuments

In response to the recent joint resolution by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County on the removal of confederate monuments, the images above are a proposal intended to begin a dialogue about how to shroud the Vance monument until it is removed.

The above images are a proposal to that end, to encourage the City of Asheville to move rapidly toward “shrouding” the Vance Monument and to begin a dialogue on how to shroud it quickly in the interim until this monument to a racist governor of our state is removed.

The City of Asheville has a record of moving slowly in addressing the removal of the Vance Monument and the process to remove it will likely take months if not years given recent history. The language in the joint resolution is vague and not reassuring in terms of a timeline or how to shroud the Vance Monument. In the meantime, this symbol of hatred will stand in defiance of current community sentiment at the center of the City of Asheville for what could be years.

The proposal is to SHROUD IT NOW. This can be done simply and affordably in weeks, not months or years, by shrouding it in black fabric. As a point of departure for dialogue, the images above shows the monument shrouded in black. Shrouding the Vance Monument in black reflects the death and eventual erasure of this racist landmark from our public realm. During the day the shrouded monument will have a presence as a black void and at night it will disappear into the darkness.

The process of shrouding the Vance Monument could be a celebratory moment and also a participatory process to engage the community in its removal from our midst.

These images are meant to start a dialogue and are by no means a solution but rather offer a starting point for dialogue in our community and a process to decide on a way to shroud this symbol of hate until its eventual removal.

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One Comment

  1. Too bad Christo isn’t around to wrap it in hot pink fabric.

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