Controversial New Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument Opens to the Public

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Story from ZYDO.Com
By Kyle Chayka
Published: August 23, 2011

MLK Memorial Monument
MLK Memorial Monument

Meet Lei Yixin, the Chinese Artist Behind D.C.’s New Martin Luther King Monument

Even before its grand public opening on the National Mall, the new Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Washington, D.C., has attracted controversy not only for its imagery, but also for its creator: a Chinese master sculptor named Lei Yixin, who worked with a team of craftsman in Hunan province to carve the 30-foot-tall work. Some critics have said that, given his nationality, Lei is an unorthodox choice for a monument memorializing an African-American hero.

Inspired by a line from King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, the “Stone of Hope” sculpture depicts the civil rights leader emerging from a block of white granite. Standing stiffly to attention with arms crossed and a serious expression on his face, King is depicted as stern and authoritative. The statue oddly seems to evoke Social Realist monuments — an impression heightened by its monolithic composition, with King standing as part of the rock face. Photographs show the memorial already easing into its place on the Mall alongside such company as the Washington Monument (both of which sites were closed due to today’s brief earthquake).

Attending an art university directly after the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, Lei Yixin graduated in 1982 and went on to work as a draftsman, and was later encouraged by a government official to move into designing public sculpture. Lei has created over 150 monuments, including statues of Mao Zedong. But it was the artist’s 2006 “Contemplation” sculpture that caught the eye of Ed Jackson, the executive architect of the Martin Luther King Foundation, who named Lei the head sculptor for the “Stone of Hope” monument in 2007.

Jackson’s choice was immediately controversial. African-American sculptor Ed Dwight was quoted by the Washington Post at the time as arguing that because Lei is not black, “he doesn’t know how black people walk, how they stand, how their shoulders slope.” In May 2008, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts called the artist’s design “too confrontational,” and recommended that the monument be rethought. more from XYDO.Com

This is a virtual tour of the monument, from BuildTheDream’s YouTube Channel
We were a bit surprised that the music behind this video is mainstream white-bread. Say what, NO GANGSTA RAP. No one wants to defile MLKs Virtual Memorial?

The MLK statue reminded me of one of my favorite sculptures, from Loveland, Colorado’s Bobby Carlyle. Click on the photo for more information.

Self Made Man by Bobby Carlyle
Self Made Man by Bobby Carlyle

WIKI page on Lei Yixin
Aforementioned sculptor, Denver’s Ed Dwight’s Official Website
Visit the main pages of LasVegasBuffetClub.Com