Artist's Vision

Walter Hood

Artist Walter Hood calls his design “a spatial piece…not a monument” and notes his role as an artist is “to bring our rich history into the present in such a way that engages viewers to draw their own conclusions.”

To inform his thinking about the creation of "Double Sights," Hood convened focus groups of Princeton University students, faculty, staff, and alumni as well as members of the Campus Iconography Committee.

"Double Sights" is comprised of a white column leaning upon a vertical black column, each etched with quotations by Wilson, positive and negative statements he made throughout his life. These phrases are not curated for the order in which they appear, nor are they edited in any way, but rather are displayed in a continuous stream-of-consciousness manner to provide a picture of Wilson’s complex and sometimes contradictory thinking. Some statements are difficult to read because they represent his overt racism and sexism, while others illustrate his progressive thinking for the time. 

At the sculpture’s center, the two vertical planes face each other; one is a glass lenticular surface with images of Wilson’s contemporaries — including civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and British statesman David Lloyd George — who were critical of Wilson's views, particularly about race and gender. The opposite side, composed of stainless steel, contains quotes by these detractors regarding negative actions Wilson took.

The intention of the interior space is to provide a place of reflection and introspection for the viewers of the sculpture. Inhabiting this space after being confronted with Wilson’s own words allows the viewer to absorb early 20th century public discourse about race and gender, and reflect on how these issues are playing out today. “These are people we feel who were pushing Wilson to be better and to do better,” Hood notes. “These are powerful words, and together, they force us not to choose sides but to try to understand. That is the genesis of the piece.”

The leaning of one column upon the other creates a tension between the two and prevents a feeling of equilibrium; this support also is intended to provoke ongoing, deep, dialectical conversations and inspire action. “This should be a place of protest,” Hood said. “This should be a place where you go to be heard. And at night, it should become a gathering space. A beacon of hope, I hope. A beacon of strength.”

Within Scudder Plaza, the strong lines of "Double Sights" create tension with the natural forms of the Fountain of Freedom bronze sculpture. Hood hopes visitors to the Plaza will discover something new each time they encounter "Double Sights."