WHAT ABOUT GEORGE?
Re-Casting an Image
What About George? is a series of temporary installations and engagements to be held in Miami University’s Alumni Hall throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Centered around the William Hubard statue of George Washington, which is located in the rotunda of Alumni Hall, the project seeks to engage the campus community in a dialog about the legacy of Washington as an historical figure, the legacy of his ideas, and the story of the statue itself.
We begin with the premise that architecture, art, and the built environment intrinsically manifest an institution’s values. As such, does the current context of the monument centered in the Alumni Hall rotunda thwart an accurate and nuanced understanding of the legacy of Washington’s ideas and persona? Does the current underdeveloped context of the Washington statue ultimately perpetuate historical misunderstandings, and by extension reproduce inequalities on campus and in the broader public sphere?
Given the difficult legacies of Washington as statesman, military strategist, enslaver of people, and committed western expansionist over native lands, the statue presents a complex relationship for students, staff, and faculty who are confronted with his image on a daily basis. Further, Miami University exists in part because of an ordinance signed by Washington in 1795 after the Treaty of Greenville with the indigenous peoples of the area. The statue, on the other hand, is linked to the Confederacy, both through the artist Hubard as well as the benefactor of the statue to Miami University, Samuel Laws.
Our goal with these temporary installations and conversations is to bring forward and expose these historically problematic views and ask, in what ways might they inform issues like structural racism that still exist today?
This site will be updated throughout the 2020-21 academic year with engagements and installation dates. If you have an idea for an engagement, lecture, or installation, please see the Propose an Event page.