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The Atkinson Forum in American Studies focuses on issues that arise around monuments and public memorials Nov. 9-10 in Milstein Hall.

Atkinson Forum Nov. 9-10 to examine American monuments

Historians, conservationists, architects and planners will discuss the cultural, historical, design and planning issues that arise around the creation of public memorials at “Place, Memory, and the Public Monument,” a two-day symposium Nov. 9-10 in Milstein Hall, presented by the Atkinson Forum in American Studies at Cornell.

Free and open to the public, the program features a series of presentations, panel and audience discussions and an exhibition by artist Mel Ziegler.

Recent debates over Civil War monuments will serve as a starting point for a conversation about how communities identify people and places for commemoration, how meanings and values change over time and vary between groups, and how we give form to our universal need to ascribe significance to events, to interpret history and to express our aspirations and identities.

Edward Ayers, University of Richmond president emeritus and board chair of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, will give the keynote lecture, “Reckoning with Ourselves: Principles and Persuasion in Remembering the Civil War,” Nov. 9 at 12:30 p.m. in Milstein Auditorium.

A panel discussion follows at 2:15 p.m., with Jeffrey Chusid, associate professor and chair of city and regional planning, presenting “Place, Memory, and the Public Monument: L.A. to Mostar to Berlin”; Erika Doss, professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame, on “Never Forget: Staking Claims and Bearing Witness in America's Contemporary Memorial Landscape,” and J. Meejin Yoon, B.Arch.’95, the incoming Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art and Planning, on “The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA,” a project in which her firm, Höweler + Yoon Architecture, participated through extensive community engagement.

An exhibition by artist Mel Ziegler in Bibliowicz Family Gallery features 1,000 portraits of the faces found on Mount Rushmore souvenirs.

A reception for “Mel Ziegler: 1000 Portraits” is Nov. 9 at 4:30 p.m. in the Bibliowicz Family Gallery. Based on the artist’s collection of vintage Mount Rushmore souvenirs, the exhibition consists of 1,000 8-by-10-inch printed reproductions of souvenir portraits of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, lining the walls of the gallery as if to emulate a large crowd or gathering. Mount Rushmore has long held a fascination for the artist due to “its scale, its absurdness, its iconic value, its reason for being, and simply its sheer physical attraction,” said Ziegler, a sculptor.

“Each souvenir I have collected represents an interpretation of each president's face,” he said. “Many didn’t even bear any resemblance to the president depicted. It struck me that the souvenirs were, in essence, all people embedded in this monument; they were tributes to the proverbial everyman.”

The reception is followed by a conversation between Ziegler and Patricia C. Phillips, chief academic officer of Moore College of Art and Design and former chair of Cornell’s Department of Art, at 5:30 p.m. in Milstein Auditorium.

The exhibition is on display through Nov. 15 and was co-curated for the Atkinson Forum by Chusid and associate professor of art Maria Park, director of AAP exhibitions and events.

A panel Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. will feature discussion and audience response to the presentations, moderated by Thomas J. Campanella, associate professor of city and regional planning. The respondents are Sandra Greene, the Stephen ’59 and Madeline ’60 Anbinder Professor of African History in the Department of History; Jennifer Minner, assistant professor of city and regional planning; and Emily Bergeron, Ph.D. ’17, assistant professor of historic preservation at the University of Kentucky.

The symposium was organized by the Department of City and Regional Planning.

Media Contact

Gillian Smith