Public art piece unveiled in Westerville

June 21, 2018 by  

Westerville was the hub of activity that helped pass the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which made prohibition the law of the land. The city recently unveiled a new public art piece entitled ‘The American Issue’, which tells about the city’s role in getting the amendment enacted.

The sculpture is by Matthew Gray Palmer, and is a symbolic approach to the subject of prohibition.

The work features a large limestone boulder split by a wedge, which has quotations on opposite sides. The quotes are designed to resemble the news journals used at the time, and the raised lettering symbolizes the presses used to print the newspaper known as ‘The American Issue’. The paper was the official publication of the Anti-Saloon League, a temperance organization that came to Westerville in 1909. The league printed and distributed thousands of anti-liquor writings.

On top of the boulder is a barrel, symbolic of the ones used to distribute alcohol. The barrel is coming apart, the same way that the amendment came apart, because people refused to obey the law. Alcohol is represented by water which flows down the wedge from the barrel above, getting both sides wet. The artist says having alcohol covering both sides of the issue helps illustrate the complexity of the issue.

Works like this can benefit if officials work with a brochure printing company to create a booklet discussing the themes of the art.

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