A Trippy Time at the VMFA? Or … Will Susan Frise Hathaway Get Skeered Again?

Next weekend the VMFA will “repurpose” the War Memorial Chapel. Two artists, John Dombroski and Ander Mikalson, are “planning to turn the memorial into a trippy funhouse full of disorienting light, sound and shadow.” According to Dombroski, “By illuminating and amplifying the building and visitors’ presence within it, we will create a heightened sensory experience that invites investigation and introspection.” The result, according to one report, will “probe the chapel’s socio-political significance.”


If ever there was a project designed to justify the outrage of the Virginia Flaggers and other Confederate heritage organizations that the purpose of the VMFA was to denigrate and disregard Confederate heritage, this might just be it. I find the idea ridiculous. That some of you may disagree is fine. Art is in the eye of the beholder. I just think this idea is wrong and disrespectful.

As you might well expect, the Virginia Flaggers are up in arms about this idea. Grayson Jennings, who has been silent about the appearance of his name on a certain list, offers this response on the Virginia Flaggers’ blog:
VMFATrippyOneIn response, the Flaggers will protest the event.

One day after Jennings posted the Flaggers’ response, Susan Frise Hathaway decided to tell everyone that she had taken enough. In a post entitled, “Our Time is Now,” she declared:

vmfatrippyTwoIt’s time for action … according to Susan Frise Hathaway.

We agree that if Hathaway’s this angry, it’s time for her to stand up and be counted … and be present at the VMFA when the Virginia Flaggers protest the exhibit on November 13 and 14. For her to call others to action without showing up herself would lead one to conclude that she is indeed a doormat, someone so skeered that her “spirit of timidity” still filled her soul, and that her courage was wavering indeed.

Will Susan Frise Hathaway take her own advice? Will she stand up for Confederate heritage and appear at the VMFA to protest this outrage? Or will she be a coward?

We’ll know very soon.


14 thoughts on “A Trippy Time at the VMFA? Or … Will Susan Frise Hathaway Get Skeered Again?

  1. Derek November 7, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    The comments on the VMFA site are pretty brutal from all sides.

    “Flagger Kween Susan Hathaway and Grayson Jennings were named in the official list of KKK members dropped by Anonymous today. Seems they are into a different kind of light show, uknowhatimean?

    “Hey, did you know that Susan Hathaway had an article appear alongside an ad for a Klan Kamp? It’s in the Jan 2015 issue of an antiSemite, white supremacist monthly called The First Freedom. You can read all about it here:


    She knew all about it even at the time, but to this day has never publicly denounced!”

    • Brooks D. Simpson November 7, 2015 / 11:09 pm

      A look at the comments in the InStyle piece reveals (among other things) that I am living rent-free in Connie Chastain’s head. It’s rather roomy if a bit drafty.

  2. Rblee22468 November 7, 2015 / 11:07 pm

    I hope the Flaggers don’t eat the brown acid.

  3. Bert November 8, 2015 / 5:25 am

    Something that kicks around in the back of my mind when I read these updates is why don’t they seek donations to open their own museum or chapel? They could put whatever their little hearts and minds desire inside. That seems far more productive than running around frantically and incompetently trying to force people who want to move on into putting in CSA symbols, etc.

  4. Sandi Saunders November 8, 2015 / 8:16 am

    With people like the flaggers and their supporters, one never knows what they even mean by “standing up” or “had enough”. TO DO WHAT?

    • Brooks D. Simpson November 8, 2015 / 12:35 pm

      We’ll see whether Susan Frise Hathaway stands up at the VMFA to show that’s she’s had enough. If she doesn’t, then we know she’s just full of hot air.

      • Rblee22468 November 8, 2015 / 2:19 pm

        Well hot air rises, and Susie spends an awful lot of time at the top of Stone Mountain.

  5. Al Mackey November 8, 2015 / 10:23 pm

    I wonder if they deliberately chose the word “trippy” to specifically tweak one particular flagger.

    • Rblee22468 November 9, 2015 / 12:06 pm


  6. msb November 9, 2015 / 7:02 am

    somehow, “trippy funhouse” is not the first phrase that I would juxtapose with “memorial chapel” .

    • Andy Hall November 9, 2015 / 3:01 pm

      The whole concept is inappropriate to that structure. There are all sorts of ways that the VMFA could utilize that space while retaining its fundamental character and being respectful of its history. Creating, even temporarily, a “trippy funhouse” where “the sound of a visitor’s step will be emitted seconds later by a speaker behind the pulpit [and] visitors’ shadows will dance around the pews” isn’t one of them.

      • Mousy Tongue November 9, 2015 / 5:51 pm

        Grayson was spot on!!!!

  7. The Lamp November 9, 2015 / 7:01 pm

    Maybe the Central Virginia Flaggers will show up?

  8. bob carey November 13, 2015 / 5:32 am

    Dr. Simpson;
    I am in total agreement with you in regards to the light show at that Chapel, it is disrespectful to the Confederate Vets who used the building as a House of Worship. I think the VMFA should leave well enough alone. I have never been to the site but if there are no interpretive historical signage perhaps this should be added.

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