university of virginia
equity/empathy design + graphic design + historical research
Paper Monuments is a project designed to elevate the voices of the people of Charlottesville in the process of creating new symbols for our city that represent all of our people. My project focused on the 1970s May Day protests at UVA in response to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
Narrative and Potential for Cultural Change
The poster first flips the traditional dynamics of power at UVA: the Rotunda, also signifying tradition and political power, is subverted by a black man, James Roebuck. He stands on the stairs and supplants Jefferson himself. The Rotunda's columns, a proliferated symbol, begin to collapse on themselves and change. Time collapses and change is inevitable. The system reaches its breaking point. The splintering of the columns reflects the splintering of American societal structure.
There are pikes sticking from the ground and columns being dropped on unsuspecting civilians in a land far away. Their white bodies rain down whether they want to or not. America takes and she gives. Cycles of violence take Africa's people and cycles of violence give Vietnam bullets, death, and trauma. The cycle is the only promises kept. All men are created equal? All lives are sacred? This is the land of the free? A cycle of time means protest will always be UVA tradition, more than our temples and our wars.
I included many of the most lauded of UVA symbols, the Rotunda's Southern façade, its oculus and sacred geometry, as well as the columns which are spread around Grounds. Within the Rotunda's roof is the Black Student Alliance's List of Demands in response to the violence of August 11th and 12th. The title written across the top, "The Sally Hemings" refers to an activist journal disseminated during May Days which criticized the University administration and called for students to strike.