tv Lectures in History Designing African American Monuments CSPAN November 26, 2021 11:00am-12:01pm EST
these television companies and more including comcast. >> oh, you think this is just a community center? no, it's way more than that. >> comcast is partnering with a thousand community centers to create wi-fi enabled facilities to students from low income families can get the tools they need to be ready for everything. >> comcast and these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. up next on american history tv, in a lecture at the citadel walter hood talks about the design plans for a new african american museum that's being built in charleston, south carolina. then pulitzer prize winning author david zocchino how white supremacists rioted results in the displacement of hundreds of african american families.
later, learn about arlington cemetery's tomb of the unknown soldier. find more at c-span.org/history or consult your program guide. now, here's lectures in history. >> ladies and gentlemen, you're in for another special treat today, another world class presenter, walter hood. walter is the distinguished professor of landscape architecture at the university of california, berkeley. he was formerly the chair of that department. among the many distinctions and awards that walter has received, he is the prize macarthur fellowship genius award, that's hard to get it all in, that he received in 2019. walter has been acclaimed for design work for the united states and abroad. for us here in charleston,
walter was selected to design exhibits for the festival over the years. i also had the great pleasure of working with walter through the institute on city design. in the 21 1/2 years of working on the international african american museum, he came to discover the history and location. the founding director of the national museum of african american history is with our class last week, said that it was the most sacred site of african american history in the western hemisphere. he helped acquire that land for the museum. harry cobb, our most distinguished design architect, told me he always wanted to have
a design project where the site was more important than the building. harry designed the most beautiful buildings for our museum, which he termed purposefully unrhetorical. so there's a landscape and its design was preeminent and give the deserved emotional power to the sacred site. harry and i knew it was only one landscape architect in our country to consider. and that was walter hood. we're so proud to have his design work on this most important project, not for the city but for this country and the world. and i'm so proud to present to you my friend, walter hood. >> thank you, mayor riley. how is everybody in charleston,
or whichever room you are secluded in? great to see all of your faces, young and of later age. mayor riley said he's been working on the museum for about 21 1/2 years. and i think, mayor riley, our tenure together, i think i first met you during a mayor's institute in macon, georgia where you gave one of the most amazing speeches i've ever heard from a mayor to talk about cities, life, and people. i had never heard a politician speak that way so i was really moved by that. 20-some-odd years later we're still having that conversation. so i really, really honor and appreciate having your friendship. i'm going to share my screen now. and today's talk will be about a half hour and then we'll have time for questions. but the name of my talk today is
"spirits in the landscape." i am a southerner. i'm from charlotte, north carolina. and it took me probably close to being in my 40s or so until i actually felt comfortable talking about, how can i say, my southern upbringing and the spirits that have guided my life. i wanted to start out, you know, just talking about the current context that we're in. we've heard a lot about the 1619 project. but this idea for most people of color in this country, particularly african americans, is our time in this landscape has been long, but our freedom has been very short. and so how we begin to kind of think about ourselves in a place that at once is foreign but is also very familiar. you know, we have to find our own path. and as someone working in landscape, i've been keen to
look at -- and i've taken the same maps and looked at the establishment of landscapes that we tend to canonize. they hold sacredness in the way we think of our country. if we think of the middleton plantation, the 1730s, i remember in undergraduate school, it was the first colonial gardens. mount vernon, virginia, some of these early places. my ancestors were isolated, excluded, partition, and even given duplicated landscapes, there has been this continuum in american to build a kind of richness of heritage. and we've really been secluded from a lot of this. and so through these double sell i don't tell -- semiotics and do you believe consciousness, if we look at our history and the way we document our history, race is
a big part of it. even in our maps, we tend to talk about who we are and how we are situated in the landscape. during most of the 20th century we have to face up that we were a nation of apartheid, we're a nation that doubles things, one black and one white. as i was growing up in north carolina, there were negro areas, unbeknownst to me, because i was a young kid, but there were also these reminders that you stay in your place. this was the town where my mother was raised. i remember spending summers here, we couldn't go out at night because these signs told us we couldn't go out at night because it was klan country. being able to sort of move around the landscape. i remember many trips with my family, going to atlanta and other places, and having to stay in other places that were not deemed kind of normal places. then these kind of ideas get played back out in popular culture to the image on the left, which doesn't really deal
with the reality. and then when we think of the semiotics of our world, i can't imagine having to erase those images. i don't remember the images of black and white drinking fountains. i don't remember the image of colored entrances. but i can imagine, how does one begin to erase that even with nature itself, to begin to see a tree as white only versus seeing a tree as something that everybody can share? and then the idea of a specific day. i was reading earlier about the early memorial day celebrated in charleston after the emancipation, and that literally becoming memorial day. but, you know, for blacks in the south, there was one day, it was in north carolina, asheboro, it was black saturday. that was the day you could go shopping. of course even when you went shopping, there was a confederate soldier standing
over you. how do we deal with that memory in the past? i do think there is a spirituality that we can begin to think about. and then we somehow tend to be aghast when we have these issues, right, that inflame, from the '60s to the '80s to the '90s to the 2000s where people are asking for protection. last year, during the george floyd moment where we saw black landscapes matter being pasted across the screen in a way that was a wake-up call but it's not the first wake-up call. how do we continually begin to think about these things? it made me dwell on our childhood growing up in charlotte and i remember in high school they put in a pomadora
downtown, this modern sculpture. i was like, what is this sculpture? then i read later about what this sculpture meant. this italian sculptor, how can this future of charlotte be new? he used this symbol which lasted 25 or 30 years. recently i was back in charlotte, i'm working there, and i notice they have that i understand that entire kind of introduction to the city with this image. and it was installed in 1995. you have to remember, charlotte what is settled in 1750 to 1768. i wondered, who was that black guy, why was there a black guy in the middle of town? it wasn't a black guy in the middle of the town where i was raised. going back and looking, did north carolina have slaves? was this a free man? why in '95 did we choose to depict this?
i would argue this is a sensible path, how cities really reclaimed the history and want to rewrite the narrative. and in charleston, as i noticed from your reading list, you've seen a lot of, from the early parts of the 20th century, to change the narrative and how do you actually allow for the history of blacks to be present alongside the history of whites. i mentioned that mayor riley, i met him in macon, georgia. this is the project i won a competition for. this was like 1998, 1999, the daughters of the confederacy, we cleaned it off, we made a set of yards that talked about a kind of a blue collar, how can i say, relationship. we wanted people to see the obelisk because it was hidden and we wanted to make it more visible. we made fountains to go around it. then i placed cotton bales. i wanted there to be, how can i say, this tension between this
fiction of the daughters and the confederacy and the reality of this place being a place that stored cotton. now, this is 20 years ago. and people were, how can i say, somewhat abstractly not interested in this idea. i was actually blackfaced at the club. i'm trying to remember who was the mayor at the time who is now a senator. but he sent me letters, walter, you're being betrayed in blackface with a mop hanging over your head as this kind of radical guy in california coming to talk about macon yards. in the last year, people have asked for that statue to actually come down. in a way, this was a prelude to the moment that we're going through now. so in charleston then we have i think this moment where these new semiotics are beginning to challenge how we actually think about ourselves. we have the bessie on the right and the bench on the left. these are two new things.
as i was reading this piece this morning, they're not in, how can i say, the central part of charleston. they're in sight, whether out at fort multrie, they're in these spaces you don't see every day. i tend to argue that we need more places and spaces, that we actually visit every day, that we see every day, so that we have a way to recollect and our spirits are with us all the time and our spirits are not just pushed off to the side but are actually with us daily. and how we might do that, i'm going to show you a few projects that begin to kind of tease at this idea. this first one is the catherine foster homestead in charlottesville, virginia. this is ecumenical village on the left and south of that was a place called canada and this was a place for freed black slaves. but as they were moving the campus, they found in turn a homestead and they found these
beautiful bricks and this beautiful mortarwork. as they dug deeper, it was billed a plantation, where kitty foster had bought a piece of property and then she went to work for the university. we were able to sort of create this historic, archeological site and actually framed the narrative. and i wanted to kind of speak more to the kind of spiritual fight i remember growing up in north carolina, going to cemeteries and actually giving the spirit a ride to heaven. and every time we would place flowers at the graves, we would use poinsettias and turn the foil back and my grandmother would say, taking a ride, this notion that where light would hit would allow the spirit to go although when you go to the shadow catch, you place a shadow in light and a place where a portal is actually built and through this portal, a family is allowed to take that ride and so you're in constant engagement with the spirit of the family and the diaspora that's here.
and this notion of forcing you to use your body in space is something very early that i was interested in and this notion of phenomena. when there's no light, there's no life. when light hits, there is this duality. a lot of times we only think of things, we think only of the light, we never think of the light and shadow together. and then throughout the site we try to highlight in a different esthetic, the burial ground. the burial ground is actually wrapped around the stones and we looked at, if you bury bodies in wood, the bodies decompose and you actually get a very beautiful landscape. and so we carved the landscape to mark the interned here on the site. this next project is the opposite. this was completed a year ago. this was the first time a lot of my work has been dealing with
exhuming people who look like me. but what's the critique of the other side? what's the critique of the white frame? white colonialism, we're now beginning to talk more about, if this country was built on whiteness, how do we talk about it and how do we engage in it? and so here at princeton we had an opportunity to begin to kind of think about that because the students at princeton, particularly of the black student union, they wanted woodrow wilson's name off the school of public policy. so they went to the president's office, locked themselves in, about a half dozen of them. and what came out of that was the trustees said, okay, what we'll do is we'll do a competition, right? you see the theme here, right? we'll do a competition and we'll see if we can get the best minds to talk about wilson's good side and wilson's bad side. so we decided in my studio to do the competition. and we started, you know, understanding woodrow wilson.
wilson is from the south, very similar. his family, his father was a preacher, i think. and he was this very brilliant man. but at the same time, those brilliant people around him were trying to get him to do the right thing. and to both particularly about, you know, why won't people kind of think about the other side through this sort of double consciousness. and i got really interested in thinking, could i project dubose's words on wilson and use it as a way to interrogate? so the piece is called double site. it's located at the central part of campus at the top here. it's located next to the wilson school. you have the fountain of freedom and you have the rock of tree, all donated to the space, the central campus. and the idea is very simple. the marker is vertical. it's a black tower and a white
tower. the white tower comes to rest on the black tower. it's made from a square, because square, long, diagonal. the diagonal is the longest side. and what we were able to do then from that is to basically think about the inside and could the inside be a place where his contemporaries could push at him. so imagine if this was a metaphor for your insides. those of you who are privileged, who don't have the consciousness, the empathy to think of others. so this is the suggesting that everyone has something inside them, only if they open up. and then through that we constructed the architecture that fits between the school and the public plaza. we removed a few of the trees and placed it within that. then on the inside, the contemporaries' quote, we loom larger, everyone from trotter to james weldon johnson to w.e.b.
dubois, who is asking wilson to do the right thing. and as we're making this, we're struck by the current cultural context we're in in the last four years where everyone, both of a certain person, oh, he would change, oh, he's going to do the right thing, he's going to do the right -- his consciousness will open up. and we know that none of this manifests. this idea of them taking this wilson's contribution and some of the negativity and we posted them on the outside, the smaller context. as you walk into the piece, you now are face-to-face with this contemporary and wilson is marginalized to the outside and also along the inside is reflection, and it's reflecting you, because you become one of those who are pushing for righteousness.
and a funny thing happened on the way to making this memorial or commemorative piece. the black student union still pushed to get wilson's name off the school, even after this was erected. opening day, the president came out and unveiled it. and within a year, the communication continued. and this past summer one of the trustees came out and read something on the outside of the piece and voted to remove his name. and whether this piece is something that's temporary, you know, we think that it's done its job in showing and giving, how can i say, a new kind of imagery to the site, not through a personal marginalization but through the contemporary, two consistently articulated for a
better world and a better place. we tried to make sure that we showed, again, some of our ancestors. you know, insight from early age to latter age. and then at night, inside is a glow and those words speak more powerfully at night. how long must women wait for liberty? mr. president, what will become of women's suffrage? and what also, unexpected to the piece, was the reflective quality of it. as you move around the piece it's actually reflecting the context, right, which again is creating a double sight, just constantly part of that double.
and the last project i'll talk about, in my last few minutes, is our project here in charleston. as mayor riley said, my introduction to charleston is through spoleto, in the early part of the millennium, mary jane jacobs was part of the show which came in after hurricane hugo and i'm trying to write about that period of time right now, because i would argue, you know, that was the first time that -- one of the first times since civil rights that charleston really had to deal with that historic past in a powerful way. artists were dropped in and made projects and they exhumed a lot of them and it was very, i guess -- a lot of tension, because they quit and came back. over a series of 20 years spoleto has been dealing with places of the past and places of the future. and it's been a context in which
artists have come and been given the space to actually think about what it means to live in the low country. this is our piece, one of five artists, we're next to meninge, we grew rice over eight months. for the first time, something that i always remembered, floodplains will always be floodplains, right? these landscapes don't change, right? just because we just found gaston's walk, gaston's walk has been there. all of this stuff is what we choose to ignore. and so for the international african american museum, we're charged with creating our ancestral bargain. i have to share with you, this is probably for me one of the -- i'm so nervous for this project, because there's a lot at stake
for this project, i'm very nervous, put it that way. but it's been a great team, as mayor riley said, with harry cobb, who just passed away last year, reached out, said walter, we need you, we need key, we need structure, we need to talk about the story. this is a different place, different than our museum in dc. this will be a place for families, individuals, groups to advance in the appreciation of the history. and particularly the history in the low country, which i think makes this spot really, really powerful. but it also suggests that being in charleston, finally, it will be in a place of prominence. it will be a place where people will pass the day as you're going out on a boat ride, you're going to come across the site. as you're promenading along the waterfront coming from the ferry, you're going to come across the site. as you're coming through the park on a jog, you're going to come to the site. i like to think about it, like
the way i think of charleston when i go for runs, i run through the cemetery. i experience the city. we want this to be something that becomes familiar to people. again, because something, you know, exists in a mask, masks are interesting. it depends on what you want to mask. i tell my students all the time, there was no information, that's because someone didn't want to include that information. so the caring to are aer if is in charge, right? so you can go out right now in maps and look for the trees, someone left out the trees. it's easy to do. we know very early, the history of slavery had to be subservient to give a new identity to one of the oldest american cities. so how do you begin to consider then this new semiotic? i told those images of bessie and that bench by the record. i never figured that calhoun would come down.
you think about the history around calhoun versus the cultures that were not -- you know, what blacks used to do as they passed calhoun's statue. i was reading this whole quote about how we used to put a little something in our pockets as we would go past calhoun, right? so you were ready for calhoun. but how did you begin to unpack a lot of these ideas? and very early in the project we asked mayor riley, let's make sure this is a real fight. i remember that day, standing there, has there been an archeological report done? someone said no. mayor riley said, why not? we look out the window and there's someone digging a hole. this idea, how do we act? the archeological report was done. we actually found where the line was. here is a picture of harry, i think which is going to be a beautiful building, long, long bars, almost like a vessel that sits up 13 feet off the ground.
the columns are two meters wide, almost more than six feet wide, tapering at the top to give the ground planes at issue. and as we have made the plans, we tried to make the plan be unfetterred by stuff. and we've taken the north part of the site, which is next to the house, we created a sweet grass field because we have to keep that open and as you make your way in we go through what we call this colonial garden that's shaped like par terres and whipping on middleton to a certain degree and then you make yourself this clearing under the building which is all tabby. the tabby creates this ocean floor for activities to take place. and then as you make your way to the south you get to what we call the warehouse and this is the place where slaves were stored after they were incubated at fort multrie, sullivan
islands, and brought here. we know they were stored here, some in the parish, some didn't make it. the site at night will be open. again, you will visit it in the same way as you visit the other spirits of charleston. as you enter from the city, we tried to reimagine a primary dunescape that makes you aware that you're coming to water. as you look back to the city, those dunes caress you as that ocean floor and tabby spreads out. and then from the sweet grass coming in from one side, you come to a much more kind of smaller scale pathway system, looking at the north side of the building which will be emblazed in light, looking through a brick fence, again, looking at the local cultural landscape and bricks, we know, charleston allowed that to become the veil
at the edge. there's a steely garden for our ancestors, we'll have voices coming out of rocks to relate the different groups that came out of the diaspora from africa. a changing ethnobotanical garden because we know the flora will get impacted at different times, an opportunity for the museum to talk about the flora and different things that slaves brought with them from west africa. we have rice planters, places where we can propagate rice, what we learned very early from rice, this notion of having ritual somehow find its way and also having programs to talk about those qualities of botanics. and then looking back to the south, towards the warehouse. they built a wall, and i think the quote now will be maya angelou, and i rise, quote, will actually grace the front of this. and as you make your way over to the warehouse, in between this long boardwalk that looks back
to the atlantic, we have a set of kneeling figures that are inspired from the rice negros pamphlet over at fort multrie. this has been something for me, having never dealt in a lot of figurations. we wanted people to come across human figures in a very small confine as they're looking west. currently we're making the models at different scales, i'm thinking, should they be perched, should they be lying down. i've been living with these figures for the last three months, which is interesting, how abstract should they be, you know, should they be black, should they be white? i mean, these are things, again, the design process. we want this moment as you walk through to feel that experience as you're walking through before you come back out the harbor. then lastly, of interest is the
brooks map which is of a slave ship, the first mythograph that really showed the social, psychological, and physical qualities. this boat i think made over ten journeys to the endings and to north america. and i thought it would be really important to kind of imbue the landscape somehow through this kind of density. we took a boat ride one morning out to fort multrie and back. it was one of these feelings that i never felt, as i was thinking about this diaspora and it reminded me of the cartoon over at fort multrie, i was taken aback, why didn't they have a real brooks map and was this a copy? but then again it stuck with me because it almost looked like a textile. but if you look at it closely
you see they're figures, laid head to toe. and so working with them, we created what we call an infinity fountain and at the edge of the promenade we've tilted the ground and we lifted the water metaphorically up to the level of the museum. and along that edge we're looking at making figures imitated within the tabby. these are just some early copies of what those figures might look like etched out. i'm looking at the shale, we want the shale to grow away on the surface but then come out in the body. and then as you serialize them you get a quality of light. and unexpected to me as we've been going through the light, i know this is low res, i just got this the other day, mayor riley, i thought the light playing against the shales were pretty wonderful. and this idea of having, you know, this fountain that becomes
dry and all of a sudden the light will play against all of these shades. and this is what the final macquette would look like. at times it looks like it's positive or it's negative. it's actually a relief, it's negative. and all the shales are from the atlantic ocean, even though they're being made in california. [ laughter ] and along that line we've made the lines stainless steel, again, going back to this idea of reflection, the lash of the spirit, and as you look back out towards the harbor, the fountain will fill up and as it will train out, those figures will be dominant and then it will fill up and those figures will be dominant. and lastly, i wanted to just end with a piece that i had at the chicago bianali last year. it's called "three trees." and i was taken by an article that i had read in the newspaper in chicago where they were
blaming obama for cutting down trees in washington and jefferson park. and it occurred to me that they never kind of referred to him as the president. and so i asked for, could i recycle the trees and make three trees. i made three trees in the library of chicago and of course i had to put obama in there along with washington and jefferson. thank you had you -- thank you. >> bravo. >> i got through the time. i'm done. >> walter, that was wonderful. and one thing i was determined to say while we have walter was this. years and years ago, as walter was working in california, and
working around the country and around the world, it was -- i was exhausted just thinking about, is -- and i said, walter, how do you do it, how are you tending to all these different responsibilities? and he said, well, joe, he says, you know, i have a lot of balls in the air, and i'm determined not to let any drop. and i wanted to say that today to the students here, and to everyone, that, you know, that's part of our life's work. we often have lots of responsibilities. and we learn to attend to them, try to attend to them all, without letting one drop. so walter, he laughs every time i say this, but that was just so
profound, because he was worn out, really, you would see him coming back from these meetings, you would see him in macon or one of those places, the institute, with his spirit and smile and everything else. so that's -- so walter knows, i've never forgotten that. i give back to the students here. this is our life's work. we tend to our responsibilities. and we've got to keep our balls in the air. and not let one drop. >> you forget the most important piece of that quote. some do fall. you have to know which ones to let fall, because you can't keep them all in the air, right? and once i learned that, some can fall, there's a kind of a freedom, versus you've got to keep them all. some are going to hit the ground. but you have to know which ones
to keep in the air. that means choice, if you can get to the place of choice. >> so i want to just remind our students and guests to put questions in the chat. and i will relay those to professor hood. and as we're waiting for those to come in, i was wondering, professor hood, if i had, you know, one or two questions that i was hoping you might speak to. >> sure. >> you've been described as a community whisperer. and i think the suggestion there is that you understand things about communities even before they realize aspects of their own experiences. and i was wondering if that's --
is that a description that you accept? just whether you might speak to that dynamic of being a community whisperer. >> i think it has a lot to do -- the project that i was working on in pittsburgh, the hill district, and i think they were quoting a neighbor that i had been working with for years. walter is a community whisperer. i think what she was meaning by that is, we try to go out of our way to be good listeners. if you're a good listener, you'll hear things. and then if you just keep listening, and at some point you give them back, and you give them back through your own lens. and i do think people are appreciative when you listen to them. and you're able then to take what they're saying and not just respond in kind but to respond genuinely through what you do.
and i think that has been for us working in varied geographies something that i really value, that i'm an expert at what i do, but i know very little about your place a lot of the time and i have to do the work. once you do the work, it gives you a point of view, right? and it might not always be the same. but at least, you know, there's a value to that. >> okay. i see questions. >> yeah, we have questions here from priscilla schumway who would like you to comment on i guess the mechanics of the pool. will the water fill up and drain by the tide? or is that a man made mechanism? >> mayor riley, are you raising your hand?
>> it's man-made, it really has a few inches of water. so we waited for six hours of the tide, i don't know if they worked out the correct timing yet, but they will do an analysis. there will be some dynamism in there that will be, you know, very beautiful. >> and fountains like this, it's basically a small bit of water. >> that's right. >> just washing over. >> that's right. >> and that's why they're called infinity fountains. on a hot day, you know, someone might stick their feet in. but again, it's one of those things where you think the image is going to force a different ritual. i think it will be between 60 and 90 minutes for the entire thing to fill up. but there will always be water in the piece because it's
tilted. so sometimes the head will have a little puddle and sometimes the feet will have a little puddle. that's why the reflective part comes in. >> bob would like to know whether you're currently working on projects in charlotte. >> yeah, i'm working on the discovery place museum, which is in freedom park. and again, it's one of those places where, as a kid, i went. and then coming back, you know, and having to redesign it, and redesigning actually a tree canopy so people can actually work through the forest, which i'm really excited about. >> and ginnie has a question and i guess comment on your southern
upbringing. in addition to many, many other positive comments that have come in through the chat, ginnie says that you seem to have a very deep understanding of the south. >> as a black man raised in the south, you have to have a deep understanding of the south. i spent summers in tobacco road, didn't want to, but i had to, on my uncle's -- my uncle was a sharecropper. all the time i thought he owned the land. even when i went to college i would brag about my uncle and his tobacco farm and i just remember my sophomore year in college i went and said, uncle, this is great, how many acres you have. he said, this is not my land, boy. this is the west part land, that part of the south. the south is, again, i think made a comment about, there are lots of things about the south i
wanted to vanquish. when i left north carolina i changed my speech, you know, because when i moved to dc, everyone thought i was ignorant, if you have a southern drawl. but i went through that diaspora and i went through all of that and i remember being in california and one of my colleagues, white, came from north carolina. she's a professor. and just listening to her, i was like, damn, she has her accent. i was like, i want my accent. but she's a white woman and i'm a black man, right? so again, we're thinking about that heritage. but, you know, working on spoleto and getting back to south carolina, it really did give me a renewed interest in my heritage. and it really pushed me to take on projects. we're working in florida right now, florida during deconstruction was home to james
logan johnson. that's amazing places right now. so it's been -- it's been a gift and a curse, put it that way. >> there are many, many comments coming in through the chat. so i'll do my best to relay these to you. tyler mitchell, who is one of our excellent students in the class, asks about the ways in which you've developed and the ways in which your imagination may have broadened since working on the international african american museum. how have you developed as an architect? >> freedom. i would say the biggest has been freedom. there has been -- i was -- i was taken by the decision to call me one day and say would i take on the ancestors garden.
this was not something that was part of the original brief of the project. this was something that came out of our working together and taking that on, you know, was challenging. but it also was empowering. and i think since it has pushed me to kind of think that we can be more audacious in the landscape, in representation. we can begin to put other narratives out there. i mean, blacks in america, we're not one large diaphanous thing. we're many things, right? and i think the project for me is allowing me to be many things that i thought i could never be. so i think projects like this allow people to come together and share. and i really appreciate the opportunity to have people like harry cobb and people like mayor riley that allow you to do what it is you do. in many projects, people won't
let you do what you do. i'll just put it that way. that's why i wanted to show the macon project which i think was a good touchstone. >> there are a couple of questions regarding your work process. and if you might say a little bit more about how these projects come together and how you work. >> that's hard to say. i mean, right now, in covid, i get up every morning and i -- so i start every morning making drawings. i paint, those are paintings behind me. i try to build a context around me in which things can come out. right now i'm working on three books and being able to write and read. it's really trying to find your renaissance. i do think if you can get a little writing in every day, if you can get a little music in every day, if you can get a little design in every day, you
know, i think you start to have this conversation with culture. these are things that i've never really had the space to do but this past year has given me the space. and in a way, it's a new way of working, right? but i want these things now. i don't go to my office. it used to be i would go to my office, where i was 15 people, you deal with all of that, and in a way it's kind of freedom now to put the work out there. but i can be with myself. >> i'm going to collapse a couple of questions here. one student was wondering about, if you might say a little bit more about the influence of older family members on your work. and then looking forward, what will be the legacies of your work for feeding generations?
>> the older -- i mean, my mother died when i was very young. i think when i was 8. my grandmother raised me a lot of the time. so there is a kind of southernness to that, right? intergenerational. i was just taken by -- i was listening to brian stephenson last weekend, he was talking about his grandmother. i think people of my generation, we talk about our grandmother, we talk about our elders. they had these big influences in our lives. and i even think back to the committee that we had, some of the elders, when we first presented the idea of the figures. i remember one of the comments, i don't know who said that you can't have people -- it was like, wow. so again, we put in a bridge. that's where the bridge came from. and so again, the kind of responses, whether it's a whisper or whatever, but just
makes the work better. the more voices i think you can pull into the work, the more the work begins to live not only through you but it lives through the community. >> in terms of the legacy of the museum, how do you hope your work holds up 50 years from now? what should we take from your work, you know, in 50 years? >> this is wonderful thing about landscape, unlike architecture. landscape is in constant transformation, right? and, you know, i would like the contributions to be that, you know, the work kind of speaks for itself. i mean, i can't be the person to project 15 years from now. i want to make work, i want to put it out there. i do want the work to be
consumed. i don't mean it in a popular way. i want people to find space in the work. and if anything, it's like, there are these spaces that i can go to, and i get to i get to see something different. i get to hear something different and as of late, i have been thinking a lot about this is the question with america is like how do we push for different. right? and how do we celebrate different? because colonialism celebrates sameness. it wants to keep creating sameness, which means that different is always kind of shunned, and diversity just becomes a kind of a medium to deal with sameness. diversity is like, i have a few that are just not different. but different is different. right? and i do think, you know, for someone walking or a white person walking in front of the
statue, they should see it as different just as someone walking from front of the calhoun statue saw it as different. and those are things, that's part of the experiment in this country. not really good at is accepting others in those differences. on one hand, people marginalize, and it goes back to the double consciousness. you know, we've had to take on those things, and i always get this question from students alike who are non, how do i work with the black community. and here's the simple answer to that, i have to figure out how to work with the white community. right? so it's that simple. you know, i think our lives in this country is actually a way for people to deal with difference, and i think the resiliency, when we talk about resilience, i mean, resiliency
are the aboriginals of this land. they're the ones who are still here. that's resiliency. if you think about our ancestors, i mean, i can't imagine, you know, being around the early 20th century is having to deal with the possibility of getting tied up. but what did people feel like in the 60s if they're looking back. they're going out in march, and they know they're going to get strong upper shocks. so i do think that, you know, this experiment, i do think we have to get to a place where we want to have that conversation, and i'm hoping this building and the things that are happening in charleston can actually be a model for the country. because these are hard things. again, i showed that map earlier. we've only been at this about 50 years. you know, we act like we have been trying to do this for 400 years. hey, we've only been trying it
for 50 years, and in that 50 years we had to use law to do it. and even using law to do it, you had people pushing back and finding a way to get around the law, and so in a way, we're back where we started 50 years ago. think about it. right? and are we willing to enact anything. we got rid of affirmative action. it was not a handout. it was a way to get us to live and be together because we had to be forced to do that, and so we have a lot of work to do, but i think, you know, i think we're moving. >> walter, i think we have time for maybe one additional question, and, you know, some of this you alluded to, our political moment has been characterized by grass roots con testations over public space going back to occupy wall street
through the iterations with black lives matter and recently with the january 6th riots at the capitol, and i'm wondering how that has shaped your work and how that is -- are we seeing that have an impact on landscape architecture. >> i think we're seeing it have an impact. i'd like it to past. i mean, i think the painting the street is an act of the public realm. as i was saying earlier, we have charleston, the public space have always been that place where identity politics and social unrest played out. i mean, the early days, you know, post emancipation, you know, the celebration on january the 1st or taking the fourth of july, these celebrations and actually going to marion square and the other places and actually, you know, having, taking over the space. so this is not something new. i think we should be looking back at all of these examples in
our history and why do we keep repeating the same thing. right? because, i mean, again, we know where it ends. it ends with the space of going back to just being what the streets are like, and so i think we have to find that place where we will feel comfortable in those spaces with things that might mean something different to one of us being side by side. i think if we start we only get back to the single dimension. i think we have to learn to deal with, at the heart of this country, we have to deal with the duality, and take the veil. off. to young brown and black people, the veil is a powerful thing to
walk into a room, and immediately people look at me, my race first, and they don't have to say anything, you just know that look, and someone was asking me to describe it the other day, and i was like, really, i got to describe it, but you know that look. i remember being in an elevator at 19, no, maybe 20 in asheville, north carolina. my first job as an intern and i'm on the elevator. i got my suit, my tie on, and i'm looking around. they are all white people and this is in like 1979 or so. and first they looked at me, they were like what are you doing in the elevator. that was the first question. did something go up. what are you doing in the elevator, right, so these are things that stay with you. >> great. well, thank you so much, i'll turn it back to you for some wrap up comments, but professor,
there are many additional favorable remarks put in the chat and i wish we had time to relay those all to you, but thank you very much. >> thank you, professor taylor, and walter, thank you. you know, when you are creating a landscape we will never forget. we will be long gone, but it will always be there, those who were in that powerful landscape of confronted and challenged and harkened and hardened and heart ached by it. the beauties, the hopes, the future, the sad past, what do -- walter will be a continuing gift
for people who come. and then, we will not forget you today. we've got lots of -- we have 300 people, i think, or so in the audience of students and grandparents and everything in between, and a brilliant and thoughtful person, give us the priceless gift of his time and thoughts. it's really wonderful. i'm so grateful, thank you, i look forward to having you back and certainly in june or july of 2022 when we open the international african-american gym and we see the powerful work of walter. thank you very much. >> thank you, guys, and i wish
everyone a really safe spring, beginning of spring, but one thing i would like to just say about our sight, one of the things i'm always touched by is that this site used to be a public space. it was a park, and i was out at the site one day, and a couple asked me to come into their condo and look down from the site, and i asked them, are they going to miss the park now that they're getting this, and they said the park didn't have any memories. and they gave this eloquent, they were looking forward to having this new landscape to be in daily, and that stuck with me because, you know, to change your sociology in space, sometimes it's really hard for people, right, you know, they got rid of the road, they moved this. you have to change your way of life, and for a lot of people, i think the fight is going to be
different but i'm hoping that it will help heal, but also get people to see the world around them differently. thank you all. this was a pleasure. you have a cherished, national, mayor riley is teaching a course. i want to be in all of these lectures, the students, you guys are getting a great, great education. in 2017, american history tv toured the newly opened smithsonian national museum of african-american history and culture in washington, d.c. here's a look at one of their exhibits. >> we're fortunate enough that we were able to receive a call from the ed stow island historic preservation society that wanted to donate a slave cabin to our museum. they knew we were looking for a slave cabin to help tell this story in a powerful way, and fortunately they had one from point of pines plantation locate
instead edistow island in south carolina. what's powerful about the cabin, on the front side we interpret it look at slavery. on the backside we interpret it looking at freedom. that is where the union army camped out during the period of the civil war. and you see where land is given to the african-american community and taken away several times until it is ultimately taken away for good. let's talk about the interpretation in terms of slavery. notice the cabin behind me. what's important about that cabin is not unlike where people locked up animals in the night that worked in the fields, not unlike the enslaved men, women and children, this could be considered a pen. but african-american men, women and children, again, through resistance and resilience and holding on to their humanity, found ways to love one another, to practice their faith, to grow gardens on the side of their cabins, to supplement their in,