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A Dolly Parton mural in West Asheville, North Carolina (David Fulmer/Flickr)

Country music icon Dolly Parton may one day be immortalized with a statue at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. Democratic Rep. John Mark Windle introduced a bill on Tuesday, January 12, calling to erect a statue “to recognize [Parton] for all she has contributed to this state.”

The proposed statute of the Tennessee-born singer-songwriter would be located on the capitol grounds facing in the direction of the Ryman Auditorium, a music venue where Parton had performed throughout her career.

If approved, the monument would be funded by non-state sources such as gifts, grants, and other donations. The donations would be directed to the “Dolly Parton Fund,” which would oversee the statue’s design, construction, and installation. The public would have a say in the sculpture’s final design, according to Windle’s proposal.

Parton has recently made headlines for her $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University, which helped develop the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. A life-long philanthropist, she also founded the Imagination Library, which gifts free books to children under the age of 5 across the world to improve child literacy. The organization has distributed over 150 million books so far.

Dolly Parton Statue in Sevierville, Tennessee (Brent Moore/Flickr)

Last summer, artist Kim Radford created a mural of Parton in Nashville, celebrating the star’s advocacy for racial justice. The artwork features Parton’s signature blond hair against a floral background and a quote from an interview in which she said: “Of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No.”  

A bronze of Parton already exists in Sevierville, Tennessee on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse. The sculpture, made by artist Jim Gray, depicts a young Parton sitting on a rock with her guitar. 

In June of last year, during the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, an online petition signed by over 25,000 people called to replace confederate monuments in Tennesse with a statue honoring Parton.

“Let’s replace the statues of men who sought to tear this country apart with a monument to the woman who has worked her entire life to bring us closer together,” the petition reads.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

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