RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — Hundreds of people came out Tuesday afternoon for the unveiling of Kehinde Wiley’s latest sculpture, “Rumors of War,” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
At first, it became a partial unveiling because the tarp got stuck on the hair of the sculpture, so emergency crews helped to remove it.
Local and state leaders, as well as museum representatives, praised Wiley’s latest work, which he created in response to seeing the Confederate monuments during his trip to Richmond in 2016.
“The sculpture itself is very much like Kehinde’s work,” said VMFA curator of modern and contemporary art, Valerie Cassel Oliver. “It is taken in terms of the frameworks from existing works of art, and in this case, it is directly modeled on the J.E.B. Stuart monument, which is located in Stuart Circle on Monument Avenue. The sculpture will be stationed right at the entryway to the museum, right off of North Arthur Ashe Boulevard. It will stand as a symbol as you enter into the museum. It really signals our way of saying that we are a space for everyone. We’re a space where new narratives are being created, and it will stand as an iconic image for the museum moving forward.”
Instead of Civil War-era garb, Wiley’s rider is dressed in hoodie, ripped jeans and sneakers, with dreadlocks.
Wiley took likenesses from six different people to help inspire the sculpture.
Wiley says “Rumors of War” was designed to send a message.
“All of this has to do with promise. The promise that each one of us has as individuals and potentiality. The potential that each one of us has as individuals. This monument says that no matter what your gender or your race or your nation, you yourself are monumental in every way,” Wiley said.
“Art has the ability to make the invisible visible and when you are seen, you’re understood,” said Najee Wilson, one of the sources of Wiley’s inspiration for the sculpture.
Wiley said the face of the sculpture is actually the combined features of six individuals. He wanted Rumors of War to serve as a symbol of the community rather than one single person.
The sculpture had been on display in New York City before permanently being installed at the VMFA.