THE KUDZU PROJECT
We are a group of knitters who live in Charlottesville, Virginia. You've probably heard of Charlottesville as the town where on August 11 and 12, 2017 the KKK, neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups converged to violently protest the planned removal of statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson from public parks. Inspired by artist Dave Loewenstein's image "Defunct Monument I - Racism," depicting a vine covered statue, an idea was born - could we cover the Confederate statues with knitted kudzu?
Welcome to The Kudzu Project.
CHARLOTTESVILLE'S CONFEDERATE STATUES
Charlottesville's equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson were erected during the Jim Crow era in parts of town that were predominantly African American. By marking these areas as bastions of the South's Lost Cause, Confederate statues played a role in the gentrification of Charlottesville and the displacement of African Americans from urban commercial districts and neighborhoods.
Statues of Jackson and an anonymous Confederate soldier stand outside Albemarle County Courthouse, indicating that this civic space is aligned with the values of the Confederacy.
We might ask ourselves whether these statues serve any useful purpose today, or are they relics of a bygone era that we could remove from public places for the sake of unity and social justice for all?
SHOULD THE STATUES REMAIN?
Charlottesville City Council resolved to remove the equestrian statues of Lee and Jackson but have been embroiled in a lawsuit preventing this from happening. Some local citizens prefer to keep the Confederate statues in place and adding some kind of context to interpret them.
Should the statues remain in place, we suggest another solution - plant kudzu around them and allow it to grow over and eventually obscure them. This will provide much needed context for understanding their present-day relevance.