Markers, Monuments, and Meaning | Wisconsin Historical Society

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Markers, Monuments, and Meaning

A Webinar Series

Markers, Monuments, and Meaning | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeGroup portrait of attendees at a ceremony to place a marker on the former site of the French post of Nicolas Perrot.

Perrot Marker Ceremony

Group portrait of attendees at a ceremony to place a marker on the former site of the French post of Nicolas Perrot. View the original source document: WHI 141664

While historical organizations have long grappled with how to interpret difficult or contested histories, recent events have added an increased sense of urgency for communities considering the meaning and message of historical markers, monuments, and statues and the critical issue of representation in our built environment. Join us as we invite panels of experts on monumental art, public history, and memory to discuss the meaning of these markers, monuments, and statues in our state and national consciousness and to consider how our built environment can better represent all people.

The panels will be moderated by the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director and CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Christian Øverland; professor of history and director of Marquette University's Center for Urban Research, Teaching, and Outreach, Dr. Robert Smith; and UW-Madison's Public History Project director, Kacie Lucchini Butcher.

July 16, 2020: Markers, Monuments, and Meaning - A National Conversation

Discuss the historical context of the current controversy and to consider the meaning of these monuments in our national consciousness with panelists Dr. Karen Cox and Ken Lum.

View a recording of the webinar here.

EnlargeKaren Cox

Karen Cox

Karen L. Cox is an award-winning historian and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She is the author of four books, is the editor or co-editor of two volumes on southern history, and has written numerous essays and articles on the subject of southern history and culture. Her books include "Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture," which won the 2004 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize from the Southern Association for Women Historians for the Best Book in Southern Women's History and was reissued in 2019 with a new preface. She is also the author of "Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture," and, most recently, "Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South."

A successful public intellectual, Dr. Cox has written op-eds for the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, TIME, Publishers Weekly, and the Huffington Post. She regularly gives media interviews in the U.S. and around the globe on the subject of southern history and culture, especially on the topic of Confederate monuments. She also appears in Henry Louis Gates' PBS documentary "Reconstruction: America after the Civil War." Her forthcoming book, "No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Equality," will be published by UNC Press in 2021.

EnlargeKen Lum

Ken Lum

Ken Lum is known for his conceptual and representational art in a number of media, including painting, sculpture and photography. A longtime professor, he currently is the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design in Philadelphia and is co-founder and chief curatorial advisor for Monument Lab.

Since the mid-1990s, Lum has worked on numerous permanent public art commissions, including for the cities of Vienna, the Engadines, Rotterdam, St. Louis, Leiden, Utrecht, Toronto, and Vancouver. He has also realized temporary public art commissions in Stockholm, Istanbul, Torun, Innsbruck, and Kansas City. He is currently working on a memorial to the 1986 Lake Nyos disaster for the Government of Cameroon.

Lum was co-curator of "Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project," a city-wide art public art exhibition in Philadelphia in 2017. The exhibition dealt with the ways in which space is engaged in terms of a city's monumental landscape. The aim of Monument Lab was to better understand the mechanisms of memorialization by questioning the status of the monument in the context of its canonical disposition. The exhibition was widely praised and became a touchstone for other cities dealing with the problems of controversial monuments and statues.

The Monument Lab recently released a hands-on activity guide to help you take a closer look at the monuments in your city or town. Investigate historical monuments in your community, ask questions about art and justice in public spaces, and propose your own ideas for a monument. View the Monument Lab Field Trip here.

August 20, 2020: Markers, Monuments, and Meaning - Wisconsin's Built Environment

Learn about the role of monumental art in Wisconsin and investigate the current controversy over historical monuments and markers with panelists Aaron Bird Bear and Kacie Lucchini Butcher.

View a recording of the webinar here.

EnlargePhotograph of Aaron Bird Bear standing in front of "All Ways Forward" flag

Aaron Bird Bear

Aaron Bird Bear (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Diné, enrolled Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation) was appointed as the inaugural Tribal Relations Director at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019. Bird Bear joined UW-Madison in 2000 to support the retention and graduation of American Indian and Alaska Native students at the university. In 2009, Bird Bear began supporting historically underrepresented precollege, undergraduate, and graduate/professional students in the UW-Madison School of Education and forwarded the School's efforts to integrate First Nations Studies into public PK–16 education. Bird Bear is an alumnus of the Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis MS program at UW-Madison.

EnlargeHead shot of Kacie Lucchini Butcher standing outdoors

Kacie Lucchini Butcher

Kacie Lucchini Butcher is a public historian whose work is dedicated to building empathy, advancing social justice, and helping marginalized communities reclaim their historical narratives. She is currently the Director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Public History Project, a multi-year effort to uncover and give voice to the histories of discrimination, exclusion, and resistance on campus. The project will culminate in a physical and digital exhibit, public lectures, and curricular materials that allow the Madison community to reckon with this history. Prior to coming to UW, Kacie was the co-curator of the award-winning exhibit "Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis," which documented the history of racial housing discrimination and its effects on the city today. She is active in the public history community – hosting events and community conversations, attending trainings, and editing publications – and holds two committee positions for the National Council on Public History.

October 20, 2020: Markers, Monuments, and Meaning - Change and Community

Explore how engaging diverse and inclusive perspectives creates opportunities to re-envision and democratize the process of creating, sharing, and evaluating monuments and historical markers.

View a recording of the webinar here

EnlargeAriel Beaujot

Ariel Beaujot

Ariel Beaujot is a public historian who focuses on the stories of everyday life. She is currently writing a book, "Comfortable Lies, Uncomfortable Truths: Public History, Private Memory and Race in 21st Century North America." The overall purpose of the work is to reveal the unspoken and underlying issues in our culture and to use history as a way of challenging the exclusive narratives of the past. It is a study of a public history project developed in La Crosse Wisconsin (2015) and London Ontario (2019) with Michelle Hamilton and the MA students from the Public History program. The public history project, "Hear, Here," is a place-based oral history project that aims to bring forward marginalized voices and disrupt narratives of settler colonialism, prosperity, and whiteness. The book is a transnational study of two predominantly white cities, the ripples created by stories from historically underrepresented people, and the resulting policy shifts.

EnlargePaul Farber

Paul Farber

Paul M. Farber, PhD is Director of Monument Lab. He also serves as Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Public Art & Space at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design.

Farber's research and curatorial projects explore transnational urban history, cultural memory, and creative approaches to civic engagement. He is the author of "A Wall of Our Own: An American History of the Berlin Wall," which tells the untold story of a group of American artists and writers who found refuge along the Berlin Wall and in Cold War Germany in order to confront political divisions back home in the United States. He is also the co-editor with Ken Lum of "Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia," a public art and history handbook designed to generate new critical ways of thinking about and building monuments.

In addition to his work with Monument Lab, Farber was curator of Points of Connection (2020), Making Home Movies (2019), the traveling exhibition The Wall in Our Heads: American Artists and the Berlin Wall (2014–2016) and Stephanie Syjuco: American Rubble (2014). He has been invited to lecture and lead workshops for Americans for the Arts, the Library of Congress, New York Public Library, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Barnes Foundation. He previously served as the inaugural Scholar in Residence for Mural Arts Philadelphia. His work on culture has also previously appeared in The Guardian, Museums & Social Issues, Diplomatic History, Art & the Public Sphere, Vibe, and on NPR. He was included on Dell's inaugural #Inspire 100 list, a group of "world changers" who use technology to empower social change.

Farber earned a PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan and a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Janet Seymour
c/o University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
105 Garfield Avenue, Hibbard 728
Eau Claire, WI 54701-4004
Phone: 715-836-2250