In 2021, City Club of Eugene launched a project to begin imagining a new generation of monuments for Eugene. Last summer’s protests reminded us that some monuments have passed their period of relevance. Programs and publications since then have shown that the messages a community needs from its monuments can change over time. Guided by Mary Leighton, City Club of Eugene partners with several groups to engage youth in finding important contemporary subjects and messages and designing monuments to convey them.
In the first week in April, students in the BEST Afterschool Program at Kelly Middle School did a quick review of the nature of monuments, using examples from across the US and from local Indigenous people. Then they got acquainted with a few notable Oregonians and historical events, to promote understanding of the many ways people and events can inspire us. They identified monument-worthy people or events in their own lives and designed a monument to celebrate them. Their final work includes both the designs of proposed monuments and artist statements describing the subject and theme of their monumental proposals.
Eugene Cultural Services Division will exhibit the students’ work in the windows of downtown buildings in mid-June, in time for Juneteenth Celebrations, and the monuments will remain until September.
Art educator and visionary Malik Lovette led the workshops at Kelly. Malik earned his BA in fine arts at UO in three years, while playing football mostly as a wide receiver. He then finished his years of eligibility while earning an MEd at Northern Arizona, and is currently working with the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art as a curriculum and program developer. He recently won one of the Jordan Schnitzer BLM art grants, and plans to pursue a UO graduate degree in architecture this summer. He is animated about this topic and its power to help young people develop strong identity and engage in community life. He founded the company Let Us Have Vision to support youth development through art.
The Round Table Club of Eugene provided major support as a collaborator in this project. Founded in 1912 for “the social and intellectual enjoyment of its members,” the club provides a forum in which citizens and members of the University of Oregon share friendship and the opportunity for intellectual growth.