This is technically the third work of art to be included in my Redbird Series but the fourth included in the Redbird Gallery at Fine Art America . A recent visitor to the gallery shared some comments offline about her interpretations of the meaning of red cardinals in my life. I found her remarks very interesting because they reminded me of passages from one of my most recently-completed manuscripts in which I discuss how different birds have functioned as symbols in my literary work. Probably the best known is identified in the title of the poetry collection: Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black.
What I find particularly interesting about the red cardinal is that it actually has not been incorporated into my writings. The preferred mode of creative expression, where it is concerned, seems to be visual art.
While finishing "Redbird in the Valley of Beautiful Possibilities," I recalled a former co-worker telling me the red cardinal was kind of like a shooting or falling star. "When you see a red bird," she explained, "you should blow it a kiss for good luck." I don't know how many people have discovered that to be either true or false but the artist in me considers the idea very poetic.
The trick to getting the shot for “Taking a Walk Through American History” was getting as much of both the pedestrians-walking sign and the Confederate Monument in the distance into the photograph as possible. It was difficult because the monument, in Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia, was to the west and the sign was facing traffic going north on Drayton Street. A ladder might have come in handy but I didn't have one.
The street sign combined with the aging distant monument aligned beside it struck me as a powerful symbol of the division some American communities are experiencing over how to handle controversy involving Confederate symbols, often associated with advocacy for white supremacy, in public spaces. Some city administrators have dealt with the issue by placing the statues and similar representations in museums, which preserves the items and the history they represent. Other administrators have hidden them completely. Some citizens (like certain folks recently in North Carolina) have torn them down and tried to destroy them.
The monument seen here stands where Civil War camps were once located, so the historian in me would like to see it modified to tell a larger story rather than completely demolished. In an article titled "Re-Envisioning the Confederate Monument as a Portrait of Diversity," I suggested Savannahians consider adding several diverse figures to the structure. It could then be re-designated as a historical marker illustrating the different stakes and values for which people were fighting during the American Civil War. The primary theme would be a unified America rather than a self-destructing confederacy. Visitors would see in it, hopefully, a more comprehensive narrative on American history as opposed to one biased version of it.
© August 2018
Award-winning author and artist acclaimed for works in multiple creative genres.