In a small park in Columbia SC is what looks like an obelisk with Egyptian-inspired hieroglyphs. While it looks out of place in this southern American city, this was the vision of artist Richard Lane. He took an unsightly train trestle that refused to be destroyed and turned it into a lasting piece of art with a timeless message.
Find out what inspired him and what his message is on this episode of Stories, Secrets and Sagas.
Fun Facts About the Ra Obelisk
1The Ra Obelisk was once an old train trestle.
2The hieroglyphs translate to popular Beatles songs “Here Comes the Sun” and “All You Need is Love.”
3Richard Lane was a classically trained artist.
4In Egyptian mythology, scarabs were said to roll he sun across the sky.
5The Grow Café is now the site of an antique shop.
Read the Transcript of This Stories, Secrets & Sagas Episode
To many, this weathered old piece of concrete is nothing more…but if you look closer…well… there’s some unusual art from the past.
Depicted at Pocket Park in Columbia, South Carolina is a mural of Ra, the Egyptian sun god. Ra was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the earth and the underworld. He has a falcon head and was associated with a falcon or hawk. To the Egyptians, the sun represented light, warmth and growth. Underneath the throne is a scarab, which in mythology rolled the sun across the sky.
But, where did this mural come from and why an Egyptian god in Columbia, South Carolina?
Back in the late 1980s this solid piece of concrete was slated for demolition. Construction workers attacked it with everything they had but with no luck. Finally, they gave up. And the pillar stood alone.
Their failure was someone else’s solution, and that someone else was an artist named Richard Lane.
Richard was a classically trained artist who loved his community and the mysteries of our world. After a friend brought him home a book on hieroglyphs, Richard knew exactly what he wanted to do. He’d paint a mural depicting Ra, the Egyptian sun god, along with various symbols and hieroglyphs on the stark pillar.
Richard loved the unusual and unexplained, and it showed in his art. He had painted everything from bigfoot to aliens. He even painted the Hulk on the side of the Grow Café to represent a mutant human, exposed to gamma radiation..
As Richard laid the last swaths of pigment onto the pillar and was finishing up painting the sun, high above the ground, he turned to his friends who were watching, and asked “Is it finished?”
They looked upward, above the pillar, and a number of hawks were circling overhead…it was a sign…yes, it was finished.
Richard put his own spin on many of the symbols. In fact, some translate to songs by the Beatles, such as “Here comes the Sun” and “ All you need is Love.”
Richard died at the young age of 45. And his artwork, well, it is faded and worn today, nearly 30 years later.
But if you stand under it around noon on a sunny day, there is a glow above the pillar. It means the scarab is working, and the sun is rolling across the sky.