Meaning And Identity In Public Art

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While visiting the Capitol Square, I felt like I had stepped back into an ancient Greek culture. From the colossal pillars supporting the building to the bronze statues of Greek goddesses among our “war heroes” it is easy to mistake the Capitol building for a Greek temple. I want to share with you what the architecture communicated to me, what the subject of the art was that I observed, and why the building was placed where it now stands. Anyone who possesses basic knowledge about ancient Greece could surely see the similarities between Greek temples and the Capitol building. There is even an inscription on the Capitol building stating it is a “Greek revival structure”. The building has many similarities to a Greek temple such as: the building appears to be symmetrical (Greeks strived for perfection), has large pillars for support, and looks the same from every angle. A perfect example of these characteristics from Greek history is the “Temple of Artemis at Ephesus around 356 BC, which was great in size, symmetrical and elaborately ornamented” according to the Stars of History webpage. On the inside of the Capitol you can also see how much detail was put into the construction of the building. There are bunches of grapes carved into solid wood at every door, all of the tiles and stairways are made of marble, everything on the interior matches perfectly, there are elaborate carvings all over the building, as well as beautiful brass light fixtures that give off a beautiful golden glow. Yet another building that exemplifies the previously stated characteristics is The Mausolus of Halicarnassus, built mostly of marble and highly detailed and decorated in bronze and wood carvings by the leading Greek sculptor of the age (around 353 BC) as a tomb for King Mausolus of Caria (Mckay, Hill, and Buckler). What all this detail says to me is that this is a place where powerful people work and where many important functions of the city take place. I gain a sense that whoever is employed here has a great deal of wealth, be it in knowledge or money, and tremendous authority. The Greeks saw their rulers as being next to godliness, and in a way, the people who work here are our rulers. The subject of the art that I observed had a theme of peace, war, nobility, and discovery. The first statue I saw was a large monument made of bronze and marble. The monument featured Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, Phillip Sheridan, William T. Sherman, Rutherford B. Hayes, Salmon Chase, and Edwin Stanton standing under a Greek goddess (who resembles Ceres because she is surrounded by bushels of wheat and grains) with a quote under her that says “These are my jewels”. These men were by far the greatest men to come from Ohio and just like the Greeks who cast their heroes in bronze, so have we cast our heroes for all to see in bronze at the Capitol. The next monument I saw was a huge angel in bronze that included an inscription about peace. Then, on another side of the building, there are two monuments to the soldiers that went to fight at Iwo Jima. These walls contain etched letters from various soldiers, some of them are happy letters while others are very sad. There seemed to be many monuments to war than anything else. The monuments about war weren’t sad though, they actually glorify all of the people who have fought for our country as well as the publics support of freedom. The last monument I saw represented discovery. I had Christopher Columbus on top of it and the base below him had tiles in

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