Documenting the American South

Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    The Student Body, UNC (Chapel Hill)

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Educational Institutions

  • Creator

    Julia Balk, Designer

  • City

    Chapel Hill

  • County


  • Description

    The Student Body monument originally stood outside Davis Library; however the subject matter sparked immediate controversy. The monument contains seven small copper statues of students engaged in representative student activities: an African American man spinning a basketball on his finger, an African American woman balancing a book on her head, an Asian American woman carrying a violin, and a white woman holding an apple and leaning on the shoulder of a man. The student body reacted to the depictions, labeling them as cultural steroetypes.

    Image: Photograph of sculpture in front of Davis Libary

  • Custodian

    UNC Chapel Hill

  • Dedication Date

    October 23, 1990

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.911670 , -79.049050 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Campus Life: North Carolina; All Student Body Not Entirely Fond Of 'Student Body," The New York Times (New York, NY), October 28, 1990, (accessed May 14, 2012) Link

      "Student Body," The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History, (accessed May 15, 2012) Link

      Williams, Meghan. "'The Student Body' Public Art Controversy," For the Record (blog), November 19, 2012, (accessed January 14, 2013) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques


  • Sponsors

    UNC Chapel Hill class of 1985

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The monument was unveiled in 1990 and was met with immediate criticism from the student body, claiming that the monument helped to perpetuate stereotypes.

  • Subject Notes

    According to Julia Balk, the creator (class of 1985), the monument represents the diversity of campus life at Carolina.

  • Controversies

    Despite the claims by Julia Balk, students felt the sculpture presented a series of stereotypes that should be fought, not displayed on campus. The UNC Community Against Offensive Statues was founded in order to create petitions lobbying for the removal of the monument. A few months after the monument was unveiled, it was vandalized; the figurines were covered with mud and red paint and the basketball was stolen. The University then decided to move the monument to a less prominent location. The basketball player and violin player were later removed without explanation.

  • Location

    The monument sits behind Hamilton Hall and Manning Hall a short walk from Cameron Avenue.

  • Landscape

    Located behind Hamilton Hall and Manning Hall, the monument is in an enclosed garden.

  • Relocated


  • Former Locations

    The sculpture was originally located in the plaza in front of Davis Library, UNC campus, Chapel Hill, NC.

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