Collage featured in Ireland

Media Kit | Publication

Earlier this year, I was invited to participate in the art exhibition Empty Columns are a Place to Dream by curator Ric Kasini Kadour. With the support of the Birr Historical Society, 18 collage artists from across the world researched, discussed, and responded to the Cumberland Pillar in Emmet Square Birr, its history, and contemporary issues relating to place, context, and past. The resulting collages will form an Open Air Gallery during the 53rd Annual Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, August 13-20, in Birr, Ireland.

History of the Empty Column

Artists were asked to create a collage using the photograph, The Square, Parsonstown by Robert French (1841-1917) from the Lawrence Photograph Collection, to imagine a monument that speaks to a world where all people enjoy safety, security, well-being, and dignity on their own terms. A designated Irish Heritage Town located in County Offaly, Ireland, the town of Birr is renowned for its Georgian architecture. An 18th-century sandstone column in the center of the town square has stood empty since 1915, when the town council voted to remove a statue of the Duke of Cumberland, best known for the bloody defeat of Jacobite rebels Culloden, Scotland in 1746. The column and its statue was an act of imperialism, a message to the Irish people that a similar fate awaited them should they, too, resist the English.

To accompany the exhibition and to further diffuse the artwork, Kolaj Institute will publish a book about the project. The book will contain essays by Ric Kasini Kadour, a statement from Birr Vintage Week’s art director Caroline Conway, artists’ statements and biographies, and images of the collages. 

The exhibition will be an official part of National Heritage Week and is supported by The Arts Council of IrelandCreative Ireland Programme, and Offaly County Council

Artist Statement

Monument to Revolutionary Rebels and Radicals celebrates people, past and present, well-known or unsung, who fight for change against oppression from the status quo. In Birr's history, Robert Emmet was a rebellious leader who fought for Ireland's independence. Although he failed, his actions inspired his contemporaries and successors to continue the fight. There are countless examples of protesters throughout history with the same rebellious spirit that fought the status quo. 

The Monument to Revolutionary Rebels and Radicals uses various symbols that center around rebellious spirits and moments in the Black community throughout American history. Each element has significance: 

  • The momentous afro signifies the rebellion of beauty standards amid the Black Power movement, ultimately becoming a symbol of Black pride.

  • The megaphone symbolizes protests for liberation and amplifying marginalized voices.

  • The raised fist, used by various groups throughout history, from the 1968 Summer Olympics Black Power salute represents unity and solidarity among oppressed people.

  • The black turtleneck references the revolutionary Black Panther Party who had a lasting impact on Black empowerment, still felt today, and inspired other minority groups worldwide to pursue their causes.

  • The phrase "Now or Never" evokes immediacy for change. As President Barack Obama once said, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."