Americana: Delaware

Chris Duncan
March 04, 2008 to March 29, 2008

Although Delaware has the distinction of being the first state to ratify the Constitution, making it the oldest of the 50 United States, it is the only one without any national monuments. The time has come not only to give Delaware a memorial that reconnects this great state to her nation, but also to reconsider what is deserving of such recognition.

During the American Civil War (1861-65), a soldier named Max Neugas was imprisoned for refusing to fight and was detained at Fort Delaware for two years. Neugas, an accomplished draftsman, made detailed drawings of the fort's architecture and grounds during his time there. These drawings are a historical link to the prisoner's life during the war. Neugas is not famous outside the history of the fort. His name may be more familiar if he had been a war hero, but instead he represents a silent force resisting this war and all wars to come.

Today, we are in the middle of a war that has no end in sight. The first woman from Delaware to die in the Iraq conflict was Elizabeth Loncki, a bomb disposal technician. In response to her death, students from Loncki's High School started sending soldiers in Iraq cans of silly string, which can be used to detect invisible bomb trip wires.

For this exhibition, Bay Area artist Chris Duncan has designed a national monument for Delaware. Duncan spent his formative years in Delaware where he became conscious of the state's disconnection from the rest of the country. Duncan's statue represents Max Neugas, and in effect all people who stand against war. The location for the monument is Pea Patch Island, home of Fort Delaware. The statue would be placed on a grassy mound under an expanse of strings which connect Delaware to the rest of the nation and are also symbolic of high school students' effort to save soldier's lives. The artist's hope is that visitors to the monument would experience the stoicism of humanity while immersed in light, lines, and color.

Chris Duncan lives and works in Oakland, California. His work has been included in group and solo exhibitions at Jeff Bailey Gallery in New York, Nakaochiai Gallery in Tokyo, and Gregory Lind Gallery in San Francisco,
among others.

Clare Haggarty

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