The Great Enemy of Truth

Installation view Turchin Center for Visual Art
Hand cut set of Confederate commemorative porcelain plates, paper packaging, glass, wood, brass wall mounts
260" H 60" W 5" D
2019

“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” -JFK

In The Great Enemy of Truth, I edited a full set of Confederate commemorative plates and packaging by extracting the Confederate symbols, leaving only the American landscape between the voids. The dust and text from each removal was harvested and is displayed below its plate of origin to show that history cannot be erased; there is still a residue.

When I stumbled across this set of plates in a tiny junk shop it felt like a call to action: particularly because they were within my visual language of interrupting found porcelain.

I have ancestors that fought for the Confederacy. I did not learn about it until after I made this work. My family does not talk about it, and when they do it is explained as if they were tricked, or defending their land. The thought that living in the North was a pass for reckoning rapidly dissolved as I examined more about systemic racism. I was taught to live with empathy and kindness and believed that was enough.

These plates should not have existed. They were printed in 1971, long after the Civil War, and created for people to hang in their homes, to exemplify a subtle form of oppression and manipulation, to pass dangerous values down to future generations aided by collectable packaging. This work is as much a rejection of systems of oppression as it is a reckoning about my own place in those systems, and the sanitized education and experience that blinded me. The truth is messy, and the dust still remains.