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Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale tasked with removing Confederate statues: 'I view them as artifacts'

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 18:39:02-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In less than a week, three massive Confederate statues that sat prominently along Monument Avenue have been taken down - Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and J.E.B. Stuart.

Designer and sculptor Paul DiPasquale has contributed his expertise at each job site, so far.

“To preserve the integrity of the piece for reverence of the piece, the sculpture,” DiPasquale said on Tuesday morning following the removal of the Stuart statue.

Paul DiPasquale
Richmond artist Paul DiPasquale

DiPasquale and welder Jillian Holland have been tasked with assisting the city and a local minority-owned contractor with removing all of the remaining Confederate statues in Richmond.

In the 90s, DiPasquale created and designed the Arthur Ashe Monument that stands blocks from the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue and the now-empty pedestals on Monument Avenue.

“Statues get moved all the time in history — all you have to do is take a look at Rome,” DisPasquale stated.

He and Holland stood in a downpour on July 1 as crews lifted the Stonewall Jackson statue from its pedestal and onto the pavement. Holland joined the workers on a cherry picker to determine how to remove the bronze from the granite pedestal.

That process took more than six hours, which helped the team predict how to move the Stuart statue.

“It’s brilliant the engineering they did at the time,” DisPasquale described. “They were obviously committed to their job, good at it, excellence at it.”

Stuart, a Confederate general, is one of about a dozen statues Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered removed from city property last week citing public safety concerns.

The statues will be taken to an undisclosed location and put into storage following a 60-day administrative period. A statue to Confederate president Jefferson Davis was pulled down off its monument by protesters last month.

The Robert E. Lee Monument is located on state-owned property and could be removed once legal challenges to its removal make their way through court.

“I view them as artifacts at this point that had a place in history, and as such will continue to have a place in history — but the story has changed now,” DiPasquale said.

DiPasquale and Holland were also hired to install the 34-foot tall Neptune statue in Virginia Beach. The 9.5-ton bronze King of the Sea was commissioned by The Neptune Festival and donated to the city in 2005.