An eerily lifelike statue of a sleepwalking man clad only in his tidy whities that found its way onto the snow covered campus of Wellesley College in Mass. through Feb. 6, startled, confused, and upset many at the prestigious women’s institution, to the point where a significant number of students want the sculpture gone.
Fox News reported today:
The sculpture entitled "Sleepwalker" of a man in an eyes-closed, zombie-like trance is part of an exhibit by sculptor Tony Matelli at the college's Davis Museum. It was placed at a busy area of campus on Monday, a few days before the official opening of the exhibit, and prompted an online student petition to have it removed.
For those objecting to the very real looking sculpture, this particular piece of art was described by the online petition as a "source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault." As of yesterday, approximately 300 supporters had signed the petition.
The nearly naked lifelike sculpture is eliciting mixed reactions from administration, faculty, and students at Wellesley.
Dr. H. Kim Bottomly, president of Wellesley College since 2007, supports the public display of the sculpture on campus saying that it’s “all part of the intellectual process.”
Bottomly and Lisa Fischman, director of the Davis Museum, released a joint statement yesterday:
"The very best works of art have the power to stimulate deeply personal emotions and to provoke unexpected new ideas, and this sculpture is no exception," the statement said.
The sculpture "has started an impassioned conversation about art, gender, sexuality and individual experience, both on campus and on social media."
Fox also quoted an English professor at Wellesley, Sarah Wall-Randell, as saying, “I find it disturbing, but in a good way.”
“I think it’s meant to be off-putting — it’s a schlumpy guy in underpants in an all-women environment.”
The Boston Globe reported freshman Bridget Schreiner as saying she got “freaked out” and thought the sculpture was real the first time she saw it. Ms. Schreiner would prefer that the sculpture be removed and has signed the student petition.
Sophomore Laura Mayron didn’t want to get anywhere near the sculpture and said it made her feel uncomfortable.
The exhibit featuring artist Tony Matelli’s works opens today at Wellesley‘s Davis Museum and runs through July 20. Matelli will be on campus this evening making some opening remarks at his exhibit’s grand opening.
Concerning his detractors, Matelli told the Globe: “Everyone brings to a work of art their own interpretation, their own history and their own baggage.”
“I think people might be seeing things in that work that just aren't there.”
For more on the story, see the video accompanying this article.
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