Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Chicago monuments under assault, Part 15: The Bowman and The Spearman

The Bowman and The Spearman, two massive bronze statues that stand in Grant Park at the end of Ida B. Wells Drive in downtown Chicago, are an impressive sight. The statues, which are 17 feet tall, sit on pedestals that are 18 feet tall. Sculpted in Zagreb, Croatia, they were installed in Grant Park in 1928.

Click here to see the statues. 

The sculptor was Ivan Meštrović, a Croatian artist who Encyclopaedia Britannica says was "known for his boldly cut figurative monuments and reliefs." 

Indeed, The Bowman and The Spearman is bold. An unusal feature of these statues, which portray plains Indians on horseback, is that neither Native American is shown holding their weapons. Meštrović wanted people to imagine what they were holding instead. 

I used to work near the location of these statues--and I would regularly hear compliments about their artistic merit. But of course Meštrović was not a Native American which is likely one of the reasons The Bowman and The Spearman are on the "hit list." Well at least for now they "warrant attention," according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's un-transparent Chicago Mounuments Project. 

Also, these pieces, in the words of the Project, might be guilty of "presenting inaccurate and/or demeaning characterizations of American Indians." On the Chicago Monuments Project page about The Bowman and The Spearman readers are told,"Impressive for their heroic scale and bristling energy, the sculptures have been criticized for their romanticized and reductive images of American Indians."

Criticized by whom?

Are they demeaning? Absolutely not. These two men are buff. Perhaps too buff, but these statues clearly designed to honor Native Americans. Inaccurate? Well, as Chicago is hundreds of miles from where the region where plains Indians once lived, I'll offer a "maybe" to that. 

The work of Lightfoot's wreckers committee has been noticed in Croatia. Nina Obuljen Koržinek, that nation's Culture Minister, wants them to stay. 

As they should.

To comment on the monuments "under review" please visit the Chicago Monuments Project's "Feedback page." Please be polite but firm in your comments. 

Please Tweet this post. When you do so use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

Earlier posts

Related posts of mine at Da Tech Guy

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