I’d love to hear from Gaia himself because as it is now it’s just a bunch of people debating what someone’s intent was and whether this is offensive to Native Americans.
I’d like to note that one person saying it is not offensive does not mean that all Native Americans are fine with it. I think the main takeaway from this is that no one group or individual can nor should speak for another group or individual. All you can do is speak for yourself.
I think you raise a good point. Everyone is different. Not sure if you read my original review of the piece but I actually said just that:
This is a reference to John Smith’s biography which is titled “To Conquer Is To Live” and provides a dose of terrestrial irony in the fact that John Smith lived by those words but, ultimately, the waters of the Earth (Gaia) will conquer all that man has created time and time again. That’s my take on it. Stop by and check it out to reach your own conclusions.
The Wingnut piece (and subsequently others online) did not say that the mural was offensive it said it was “racist.” That’s what I have issue with. People who know nothing about that word tossing it around flagrantly. The author may in fact know something about it but my guess is that if Mess has indeed experienced true racism, I imagine this would not register as a blip on the meter as “racist”, particularly in Richmond, VA.
As I told the Wingnut representative when I contacted them, Gaia does not need to issue a statement. What I have a problem with has little to do with his statement but the position of people tossing around words that they have little experiential and real-world knowledge of.
I was there when he was making it and I talked to him extensively over two days about a variety of things so I’m not just running my mouth talking about him as a person and what he represents as an individual as an artist. I’ve also followed his work for years so I have a decent idea of what he’s about. That’s really irrelevant but i just thought I would add that in.
My response dealt with people tossing around words and taking advantage of a platform to try and use some big words that were not even applicable in this situation. Rushing to judgement in labeling something “racist” or the product of “white privilege”…
It is absolutely blowing my mind that we are having this discussion about a piece of beautiful art that actually, truly can and should be seen as speaking against Colonialism. When have any of you cats complaining about this complained about the “John Smith Trail” signs that line Boulevard and the Fan for everyone to see as they get off 95 to visit our city? “Welcome to Richmond!” (it was even more effective when the “brave” was at The Diamond). How many of you are actively addressing the monuments that have lined Monument Ave. and the state Capitol that honestly and truly GLORIFY the most brash and offensive leg of this disoriented country’s life? I mean really. I even mentioned those monuments in in my original piece but what Mess chose to attack was the mural?!? That’s funny to me.
I wouldn’t even consider the monuments themselves “racist” but they are offensive and represent an ongoing commitment of the powers that be to uphold the deep-seeded racist traditions and persona as a matter of civic “Pride.”
Hubris is probably a better word…
And again, I will just mention the Redskins. Where’s the noise around that shit? How is everybody cool with this and not saying shit about it? It’s amazing how many “activists” will not speak out about the Redskins. More dumb shit and excuses. It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn sad. Another ongoing failure of Humanity…lol.
People pick and choose their battles to flaunt their book knowledge, vocabulary, and ego on the regular. Even if Mess were Native American or African-American I would have much of the same issue: calling things “racist” is a powerful, powerful thing. it is not to be flaunted around casually, particularly in today’s racial climate, it’s irresponsible and as I said, reckless. That’s my opinion and I addressed it as such.
I think anyone living in RVA needs to check themselves and what they have been de-sensitized to. People don’t realize how F—ked up this city and state are to people who are not from here and a lot of people here as well. I learned a lot about that talking to people in Philly about things down here. People here are lulled to sleep by the mile high stack of real racist images, ideas, and profitable “historic tours” that still to this day profit off the sweat of slaves and indigenous people without returning anything back to the looted remains of those communities. That stuff seethes through this city’s veins without much of a blip day after day, generation after generation.
I guess that’s the beauty of Gaia and his art: maybe it will get people talking about the real issues that this city faces in the matters of race and cultural relations. Many of those issues get bypassed daily by organizations like the Wingnut (and actually contribute heavily to the causes of other areas where the WC does do good work in) and many of those issues are much more expansive than one mural by one artist. The institutionalized, systematic stuff is the real problem here not a beautifully ironic piece of artistic expression.
Think about it and I will do the same.
WE R NATIVES