Wellesley College Students Petition to Have New York Sculptor’s Statue Removed

We’ve all heard the adage, ‘I don’t know art, but I know what I like.’ Well, courtesy of the Boston Globe and some accompanying photos by the AP’s Steven Senne, get ready to put that adage to the test.

Per reporter Jaclyn Reiss’ item, the realistic, department store mannequin-style sculpture of a man in his white undies sleepwalking can be found as of yesterday on campus, outside, next to a busy street and sidewalk. It’s a teaser for an exhibit by artist Tony Matelli and many are not amused:

Zoe Magid, a Wellesley College junior majoring in political science, started a petition on change.org with other students asking college president H. Kim Bottomly to have the statue removed.

“[T]his highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community,” says the petition, which was penned by student Lauren Walsh. “While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work in this space.”

If you’re thinking this was the very intent of the placing the sculpture in full view, you’re right, as has been confirmed by the president of the college where the Matelli exhibit opens tomorrow. The plan was probably not to leave the sculpture where it is through the full run of the show, until July 20. And chances are now that the offending bit of frightening frat boy art will get yanked sooner.

Matelli, a a 42-year-old native of Chicago, lives and works in New York.

Update (February 6):
In the wake of all this, artist Matelli has done several interviews. He tells Boston magazine that he is cool with the fact that some have put additional clothing on the “Sleepwalker” and says he has been shocked by the overall response:

“I’m surprised by some of the things I am reading. I think there is a lot of projection going on and people are seeing things in this work that are simply not there. I think that that can happen, and I also think, if someone thinks about it again, carefully and slowly, they will maybe see this artwork more clearly.”

[Image of two key parts of the “Sleepwaker” courtesy: tonymatelli.com]

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.