Replacing the Columbus Statue: Lisa McLymont's Reflecting on the Four Directions
A four-sided, 12-post structure creates an interactive experience and honors a Native American spiritual concept.
The city of Columbus is known for many things beyond its namesake. It is a safe harbor, with vibrant refugee communities and policies protecting immigrants. As of 2020, nearly 10 percent of Columbus’ population is foreign-born. It is a smart city, the home of several tech startups and future-forward initiatives. It is a place of diversity and inclusivity, with people from all walks of life.
In imagining a public artwork to replace the Christopher Columbus statue, Lisa McLymont envisions an interactive, dynamic piece that honors all of those elements. “Columbus holds a wide variety of cultures who have shaped our community into one that embraces expression. I have been shaped by Columbus,” says McLymont, a professional artist originally from New York who has lived in Columbus for more than 30 years. “Though this work is not as much about art as it is about honoring our cultures, I used this opportunity to conceptualize something that will help us all learn more about each other and break through the stereotypes we grew up with.”
In the summer of 2020, McLymont painted several plywood murals in response to Downtown protests against police brutality. The works became a part of the Art Unites Cbus series. Her work hangs in the Columbus Museum of Art—a portrait of Columbus icon Nina West. She is also a lead artist with Deliver Black Dreams, an art initiative that installed its first 5,000-square-foot public mural in the Milo-Grogan neighborhood.
McLymont’s proposal draws inspiration from Indigenous cultures, along with African, Asian and European ancestries. The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, McLymont says it is important to celebrate the people who came before her.
“I feel that now is the time to press for equity, and to recognize our full history,” McLymont says. “Indigenous people such as the Seneca, Shawnee and Mohican were stewards of this land long before any of us and deserve honor in this time of change.”
Incorporating a companion website for offsite viewing, QR codes and Wi-Fi would allow visitors to respond to evolving prompts and upload their own reactions. McLymont also envisions artwork that includes solar panels and LED lights, which reflect Columbus’ tech-forward community.
“If this work ever comes to fruition, it could collect the hopes and visionary ideas of regular citizens,” says McLymont. “The desire to offer education is another important piece, as we all know at this point that to know our history is to not repeat it.”