Targeted sculptures linked to Wisconsin, Civil War history

Targeted sculptures linked to Wisconsin, Civil War history

CHICAGO — Protesters have defaced and torn down statues of historic figures throughout current demonstrations towards racial injustice in cities throughout the nation. Most of these items have specific ties to colonialism, slavery and the Confederacy, together with imagery of Christopher Columbus and former U.S. presidents who owned slaves.

In Madison, Wisconsin, protesters tore down two sculptures with no apparent hyperlinks to that history: one depicting an abolitionist Union army official and one other of a feminine kind representing the state motto “Forward.”

Protesters mentioned in media interviews that the state and metropolis aren’t dwelling up to the progressive values represented by the “Forward” and Col. Hans Christian Heg sculptures that have been torn down Tuesday evening.


Jean Pond Miner’s “Forward” bronze statue represented Wisconsin on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A pamphlet for the occasion mentioned the feminine determine was standing on the prow of a ship surging by the water.

It was later put in exterior an entrance to the Capitol constructing and remained there till 1995 when the weather-damaged authentic was eliminated and changed by a bronze reproduction.

The statue has lengthy been a silent participant in Madison protests for a wide range of causes, serving as a spot to hold indicators and a climbing put up for folks main chants.

Nada Elmikashfi, a Black resident who’s operating for one of many state Senate districts representing Madison, mentioned the statue doesn’t have the identical that means to everybody, significantly folks of color.


“The symbolism of lady Forward and that word Forward has really been only for white Wisconsinites,” she mentioned. “I think that’s a truth a lot of people found hard to swallow.”

Wisconsin ladies raised the cash to have Miner’s statue forged for the exposition in Chicago and ladies additionally led the hassle to pay for the reproduction’s creation many years later. That history has made it a favorite amongst ladies’s rights supporters.

In a tribute to that legacy, artists Brenda Baker and Bird Ross photographed almost 200 ladies mirroring the sculpted determine’s pose for a 2017 artwork present throughout festivities for the Capitol constructing’s 100th anniversary.

Both ladies mentioned they have been saddened by the sculpture’s elimination however “have empathy for anybody trying to be heard right now.”

“Art is such a powerful tool for us to celebrate and talk about who we are as a society,” Baker mentioned. “This is just another example.”



Paul Fjelde’s statue was the results of a years-long marketing campaign by Norwegian Americans to mark their contributions to American history and honour the political abolitionist and Union colonel who died throughout the Civil War.

The Norwegian Society of America collected donations from throughout the nation, sufficient for the set up of an identical copies of Heg’s statue in Racine County, Wisconsin, and in Lier, Norway, mentioned Kristin Risley, a professor of English on the University of Wisconsin-Stout who has studied the marketing campaign.

The Madison sculpture was the society’s present to the state. It was put in exterior the Capitol constructing in 1926.

Risley mentioned Heg’s place as colonel of the 15th Wisconsin Regiment, largely made up of immigrants, and his dying on the Battle of Chickamauga made him a pure alternative for Norwegian Americans looking for a manner to mark the contributions of their ancestors after immigrating to the U.S.


“For the people that wanted to build this monument, Heg was viewed as a man of principle, who was willing to act on that and uphold the ideals of the U.S. as a new American,” she mentioned.

But it appears probably that few Wisconsinites know Heg’s biography, regardless of the sculpture’s presence exterior the Capitol. Risley, who grew up in Madison and has Norwegian American household within the state, mentioned she knew virtually nothing about him till enterprise a analysis challenge concerning the Heg sculpture throughout graduate faculty.


This story has been corrected to present that the society that donated the Col. Hans Christian Heg sculpture was the Norwegian Society of America, not the Norwegian American Society.

Kathleen Foody, The Associated Press

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