photo vmfa

On Dec. 10, 2019, the Rumors of War statue found its permanent home at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). It stands
27 feet high and about 16 feet wide, and was sculpted by Nigerian-American portrait painter Kehlinde Wiley.
Though the statue finds itself situated in Richmond today, the monument was originally unveiled to the world in Times Square
in Sept. of 2019.
According to Wiley, the monument was created to serve as “a powerful repositioning of young black men in our public
consciousness, and engages the national conversation around monuments and their role in telling incomplete narratives and

perpetuating contemporary inequities.”
The actual statue itself is a young African-American male wearing urban streetwear riding a horse.
Wiley found inspiration from the statue of Confederate Army General James Ewell Brown “J.E.B” Stewart, which was created
by Frederick Moynihan in 1907 and sits on Monument Ave.
Rumors of War was Wiley’s first monumental public sculpture. Throughout his career, Wiley consistently addresses the lack
of representation of people of color in history.
As most of us know, the public attitude about historical monuments is, to say the least, polarized.
This was most notably proven on Aug. 11, 2017, when white supremacists from across the nation gathered in Charlottesville
during the Unite the Right rallies.
The rallies were sparked in response to the proposed removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in downtown Charlottesville. I, a
Charlottesville native was there the day of the rallies.
I can comment first-hand on how historical monuments, specifically those that memorialize confederate war generals, affect
communities.
While I don’t believe in the deletion of American history, I strongly stand against idolizing the cruel people who contributed to
America’s racist past.
By representing Confederate generals as heroes, America promotes an agenda that we as a country no longer stand for. The
Rumors of War monument is a positive way to uplift marginalized communities without ridding the preexisting statues that are
near to America’s heart and history.
I’ve seen the way historic heirlooms have come back to haunt us and it is not something to be proud of.
Statues of historical figures prolong the division of our country. They prevent us from moving forward because the American
people as a whole are not able to detach from an outdated, oppressive past.
This is why works such as Rumors of War are a breath of fresh air.
Many Virginian civilians feel the same way, including Virginia’s very own governor.
“This statue is the most important work of art in this museum,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
The Rumors of War statue is a beacon of hope in a sea of hate, especially being that black history goes unrecognized
throughout America’s history.
The statue represents the men and women of color who make waves of change in America today.
In the first unveiling of the statue, Wiley said the statue will aid in “Transforming this beautiful and toxic time into something
that I hope can give us a sense of purpose.”
When most people think about black history, they think mostly of slavery and the civil rights movement. They do not think of
the remarkable impact African-Americans make each and every day, people such as Zyahna Bryant, a young female activist and
Marsai Martin the youngest female executive producer in Hollywood.
The Rumors of War statue is a direct response to the Confederate statues along Monument Ave. in Richmond, which is
where Wiley found inspiration for the statue when he visited Richmond in 2016.
The Confederate monuments were positioned in a way, to represent that the Confederacy would still live on regardless of the
results of the Civil War.
However, the Rumors of War statue is placed just south of Monument Ave. This to me is a metaphor for the advancement of
equality.
The Rumors of War Confederate counterparts remind us every day of what America used to be, divided, unequal and
deplorable.
Today, we as Americans make strides towards complete equality and acceptance, by way of supporting
the people who helped build our country.

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