fb-pixel Skip to main content

As we question statues’ future, we face our past

Cyrus Dallin's“Appeal to the Great Spirit” stands at the entrance to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.Lane Turner/Globe Staff/File 2013

MFA sculpture is a powerful work of resilience

Re “As monuments fall” by Murray Whyte (Page A1, July 12): To take down the “Appeal to the Great Spirit” sculpture in front of the Museum of Fine Arts would be to remove a powerful work of resilience by an advocate for Native Americans, Cyrus Dallin. The sculpture masterfully depicts a human figure opening himself before the universe, the place from which our earth and all living creatures come.

It embodies the principles by which Dallin lived. He witnessed suffering of Indigenous peoples and acted. He commemorated their aspirations in artand worked with Congress to better their rights to land, health care, and economic opportunity.


It is one thing to take down sculptures of generals who fought to maintain slavery. It would be quite another to take down a sculpture that strives to create an example of spirituality, peace, and unity with a greater power, by an artist who tried to right the wrongs visited on those he represented and respected.

Olivia Fischer Fox


Susan Goldwitz


Fischer Fox is an artist, and Goldwitz is an independent fine art curator.

Carting these pieces away would be a missed opportunity

It seems to me that to simply remove and store the statues art critic Murray Whyte discusses in “As monuments fall” is to lose on two counts.

First, most of these are beautiful, just from an artistic viewpoint.

Second, to hide them because they are emblems of oppression, destruction, or racism is to miss an important opportunity. Wouldn’t it be better to house them as permanent exhibits in public places that can accommodate them along with other examples of such art, including photography, artifacts, and books?

Such exhibits would be feasible in outdoor parks, incorporating buildings to display the photography and artifacts and provide teaching tools, such as literature and videos. Smaller statues could be displayed, with the right context, in museums. In this way, we can use these statues to teach young and old about how racism, slavery, oppression, subjugation, and substantial annihilation (as in the case of Native Americans) are fundamental parts of the history — and present struggles — of this country.


We cannot learn to be better humans if we hide the elements of our inhumane acts. We must face our history as well as our present actions that continue these travesties. Germany preserved the Nazi concentration camps as tools to educate, to remind us of what horrors humans are capable of, and to say, “Never again.” We have an opportunity to use these statues and other artistic expressions to open eyes, minds, and hearts to the truth that is us, Americans.

Katherine Levin


Think of the many who never see their place on a monument

Thank you for the front-page article “As monuments fall” While we criticize and question which artworks belong in present-day public space, I hope we will also find and plan for ways to honor and celebrate what is not yet there in our public spaces.

Where are the mothers, nurses, physicians, caregivers, educators, researchers, cleaners, construction workers, grocery workers, and many more who hold our daily lives together? And how about memorials to women lost in childbirth, domestic violence, rape, and femicide?

Patricia R. Falcao