The Rock That Owns Itself • Perrin Turner • September 8th - October 21st, 2017
Atlanta, Georgia is home to the country's largest Confederate memorial, carved into the side of Stone Mountain. This enormous bas-relief (the biggest in the world), depicting Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis, was completed in 1972, after more than 50 years of work. It was funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Ku Klux Klan, who chose this site in part because it hosted the founding of the second iteration of the KKK in 1915. That same year they chose Gutzon Borglum as the lead sculptor, who later went on to carve Mount Rushmore.
When Stone Mountain was first encountered by European explorers, its summit was encircled by a rock wall. The wall is believed to have been built by early Native American inhabitants of the area, although its exact purpose remains unclear. At Enchanted Rock, Tonkawa, Apache, and Comanche tribes used the summit as a hiding place from Anglo settlers as early as the 16th century. In Athens, Georgia there is a tree that owns itself. The tree started its life around the 17th century but was not deeded to itself until the 1820s by Colonel William Henry Jackson. The deed has no legal standing but is recognized by the public. It is also the position of the county government that in spite of the law, the tree does indeed own itself. Stone Mountain has been owned by the State of Georgia since 1958 and state law does not allow anyone to remove or alter the carving in any way. However, removing granite from other parts of Stone Mountain has been an important part of the local economy and has contributed to the destruction of many spectacular natural features on the site. The stone has been used in a variety of important projects including the locks of the Panama Canal, the steps to the East Wing of the U.S. Capitol, and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The material was also considered for use in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. but was passed over in favor of Chinese granite.
Perrin Turner is a sculptor originating from Atlanta and currently residing in Richmond where he attended Virginia Commonwealth University. In the past year since leaving VCU, Perrin attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and has been traveling while collecting intel. For six weeks Perrin was Not Gallery’s resident artist and spent that time transforming the space into an inverted Stone Mountain. This inversion, complete with dome and bas-relief, explores Stone Mountain’s relationship to the future and to the now. Countless enmeshed histories—geological, man-made, and imaginary—overlap at this site and provide fuel to this supercharged object. In The Rock That Owns Itself, Perrin Turner plays archeologist, chipping away at the rock, wondering when it will start to look smaller.