Monday, January 26, 2015

Shut Out of the Doors

The elevator doors in St. Paul's city hall are a beautiful rendering of noninclusion. Because the building was constructed in 1932, I suppose it's not possible to have hoped for more. But it's jarring, nonetheless.

First is the mostly naked native man. Not a woman, of course. And given the climate in Minnesota, how likely is it that native men dressed like this more than a few weeks of the year, if at all?

Next, there's the heroic (white, male) farmer.

Then a black man, laboring to load something (probably grain) onto a river boat. I give the designers points for including him, even though he looks like he came right out of a production of Showboat. Most people seem to think there were no black people in Minnesota until the 1980s or so.

The railroads, industry, and research are next.

Followed by a heroic sky-scraper-building white guy, plus Mike Mulligan's steam shovel.

I'm not totally sure what this final set of doors is supposed to represent, or what spot it should hold in the clearly chronological order of the other five pairs of doors. My guess is it's meant to express our state's commitment to its natural resources and parks.

The thing that's most notable about the six sets of doors is that there isn't a single female human shown. Aliens, arriving tomorrow with only these doors to use to interpret our culture, would have no idea that women exist.

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