Reimagining Asheville’s obelisk

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Not being a year-round, nor yearslong resident, I’d seen the Vance Monument and actually believed it to be rather uninspiring, moribund. From an aesthetic viewpoint, I’m glad it’s gone.

From an appreciation of history, the man certainly needs to be mentioned in museums and other places where people can educate themselves about the Civil War governor and senator, native son and all of that. There’s a lot of “all of that” which contextualizes why he’s no longer a favored son.

I agree with the other opinion writer that another plaque “splainin” all of that would continue the boring granite obelisk type of monument favored by the Lost Cause folks [“Asheville’s Obelisk, Take Two,” July 19, Xpress]. I certainly didn’t consider it handsome. And with its decapitation, those folks are rightly relegated to their lesser cause. A disruption of their mythology was called for.

But couldn’t the dimensions of the old obelisk yield a new and beguiling one, perhaps composed of a transparent composite material? To look like crystal or glass? Or perhaps with an internal light source to illuminate? Isn’t that what we’re trying to create, a new understanding? If not transparent, then perhaps translucent? Or a gradient from translucent to transparent as it reaches toward the sky. Or a different gradient, from dark stone to lighter and lighter granite, to symbolize enlightenment?

It would certainly have the same scale. Most would consider it similar, but infinitely more interesting. No explanations, just a vibrantly gleaming obelisk, allowing individual interpretations and thoughts about what was once there and what is there now. Civic discourse.

— Donna Di Giacomo
Weaverville and Coral Gables, Fla.


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5 thoughts on “Letter: 
Reimagining Asheville’s obelisk

  1. joelharder

    The first Confederate Memorial Monument removed from its installed location was located in Helena, Montana. In response to the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, the American Indian Caucus wrote an Op-Ed calling for removal of the Fountain. “Please send a message that there is no hate in our state by removing this divisive memorabilia from the capital city.”

    History on this Confederate Memorial Monument. Donation cost: $2,000 in 1916.

    The Confederate Monument was removed and replaced with the Equity Fountain. The intent of the 2020 landmark is to emphasize equality, tolerance, and justice. The Daughters of the American Revolution has requested the Confederate Statue.

    My point is Asheville needs to learn from other cities on how to handle change. In Helena, the function of a fountain was retained; however, the goal was achieved to reimagine the space.

  2. Voirdire

    how about an obelisk of unfathomable heights to ourselves for being so much more enlightened and progressive ( ..and providentially farsighted of course) than our brutish forebearers and ancestors. sigh

  3. Zodwa

    The whole concept of spending $77 million to reimagine the area, because you didnt like the stone dick is crazy. Take it down and be done with it. We dont keep to have anything there.

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