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Critical Conversations: Let’s Talk About Lincoln

Controversy in Public Art

The Lincoln Trilogy sculpture looms large in the Bennington Museum courtyard, and people have a variety of opinions about it. Some love it while others find it offensive in a number of ways. With controversial works of public art being debated, relocated and destroyed throughout the country, it is time to talk about Bennington’s own controversial piece.

In this panel discussion, you will hear from experts with a wide range of perspectives. Hear why some find the work offensive to women, People of Color, and Indigenous populations. What should be done with the sculpture? We’ll hear arguments for relocation or removal, and for preservation and improved interpretation.

Panelists include:
Sarah Beetham, art historian specializing in art related to the Civil War
Heather Breugl, public historian, activist, and decolonial education consultant
William Hosley, independent scholar with expertise in Vermont history, statuary and monuments
Shanta Lee, photographer, writer and scholar

How to Participate

Pay What You Will for this in-person panel discussion. We recommend purchasing your tickets in advance.

Get Your Ticket Here

About the Panelists

Dr. Sarah Beetham is the Chair of Liberal Arts and Assistant Professor of Art History at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, specializing in American art and particularly the monuments erected to citizen soldiers after the Civil War. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware and a B.A. in art history and English from Rutgers University. Her current book project, Monumental Crisis: Accident, Vandalism, and the Civil War Citizen Soldier, considers the long history of damage and alteration of Civil War monuments in the context of the recent debate over Confederate memory.

Dr. Beetham has published work on Civil War monuments and art history pedagogy in Public Art DialoguePanorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American ArtNierika: Revista de Estudios de Arte, and Common-Place. She has been interviewed regarding her work on Civil War monuments and the current debate over the future of Confederate monuments in several outlets, including the Washington PostAssociated PressThe Guardian, and U.S. News and World Report.

Heather Bruegl is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and a first line descendent Stockbridge Munsee. She is a graduate of Madonna University in Michigan and holds a Master of Arts in U.S. History.

Heather is the former Director of Education and led the Fellowship Program for Forge Project, a Native-led initiative centered on decolonial education, Indigenous art, and supporting leaders in culture, food security, and land justice. She presents on numerous topics including Native American policy and activism, the power of Native women, Native Americans and the military service, the Dakota War of 1812, the history of American Boarding Schools, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP). Among other events, Heather has spoken at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh for Indigenous Peoples Day 2017; the Women’s March Anniversary in Lansing, Michigan, in 2018; and the first ever Indigenous People’s March in Washington, DC, in 2019. In summer 2019, and virtually in 2020 and 2021, Heather spoke at the Crazy Horse Memorial and Museum in Custer, South Dakota, for their “Talking Circle” series. She has collaborated on several exhibitions, including Mohican Miles at the Mission House Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and the Muh-he-con-ne-ok: The People of the Waters That Are Never Still at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass.

Bill Hosley is an independent scholar, historian, writer, and photographer, who retired from a long career as a museum curator and director. He is passionate about art, local history and historic preservation. He was formerly Director of the New Haven Museum and Connecticut Landmarks, where he cared for a chain of historic attractions. Prior to that, as a curator and exhibition developer at Wadsworth Atheneum, Bill organized major exhibitions including The Great River: Art & Society of the Connecticut ValleyThe Japan Idea: Art and Life in Victorian America, and Sam & Elizabeth: Legend and Legacy of Colt’s Empire, an exhibition that that spawned the Coltsville National Park.

Shanta Lee is an artist who works in different mediums as a photographer, writer across genres, and is a public intellectual whose work has been widely featured. She is the author of  GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues, named 2021 Vermont Book Award, winner of the 2020 Diode Press full-length book prize with an honorable mention from the Sheila Margaret Motton prize. Shanta Lee’s forthcoming collection, Black Metamorphoses (Etruscan Press, 2023) is what Shanta Lee describes as a 2000+ year old phone line opened to Ovid as well as an interrogation of the Greek mythos while creating her own new language in this work. Black Metamorphoses is an illustrated poetry collection that has been longlisted for the 2021 Idaho poetry prize, shortlisted for the 2021 Cowles Poetry Book Prize, and named a finalist in the 2021 Hudson prize.  Her current multimedia exhibition, Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine, is on view from now until December 9 at the Fleming Museum of Art.

Collaborating is a part of Shanta Lee’s creative practice and  projects have included co-curating the I AM… exhibition with the Vermont Arts Council along with her work on the statewide CreateVT, a strategic plan geared towards the creative sector. Among her current work includes acting as one of the advisors for Jay Craven’s film, Lost Nation, which will illustrate how the Prince family and Ethan Allen took different paths toward the American dream. In addition to teaching a Media Studies course at The Putney School, Shanta Lee is one of the writers for the Ms. Magazine Blog,  a regular contributor to Art New England and is a producer and reporter for Vermont Public RadioShe has an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  She has an MBA from the University of Hartford and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality from Trinity College.