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Monumental statue of black man defies Confederate monuments

A massive bronze sculpture of a young black man with dreadlocks astride a muscular horse was permanently installed Tuesday in Virginia’s capital city, not far from one of the country’s most prominent displays of Confederate monuments.

Thousands of people crowded the lawn of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as “Rumors of War” was unveiled. The piece, the first public sculpture by prominent artist Kehinde Wiley and Wiley’s largest work to date, was previously on display in Times Square.

“Rumors of War” was Wiley’s response to the Confederate monuments that pepper the U.S. and the South in particular. The new monument arrived amid an ongoing debate across the country about what do with Confederate imagery and as Richmond grapples with how to tell its history as both the capital of the Confederacy and a former hub of the international slave trade.

“It’s a story about America 2.0,” the artist said, adding he was overwhelmed by the size of the crowd.

Wiley is known for his regal portraits of black Americans, including one of former President Barack Obama that’s displayed at the National Portrait Gallery. He said he was inspired to create “Rumors of War” after seeing a massive equestrian monument honoring Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart during a visit to Richmond in 2016. The Stuart monument is one of five giant Confederate statues along Monument Avenue, a prestigious residential street and National Historic Landmark district.

Both the Stuart statue and “Rumors of War” feature horses in virtually the same pose, with one front leg lifted. Both riders are turned to the side. But instead of Civil War-era garb, Wiley’s equestrian is dressed in streetwear: a hoodie, ripped jeans and sneakers, with dreadlocks gathered atop his head.

Virginia’s governor hailed the twist on history as he addressed the crowd Tuesday.

Read entire article at AP