To the Editors:
Mere hours since “The Sleepwalker” statue—a highly realistic statue of a man, arms outstretched, clad only in what is best described as tighty whiteys—was installed in Munger Meadow, it has provoked outrage and some defenses among the student body and a terse response from the Davis Museum itself.
I stand with my peers who have requested that the statue be relocated because of its potentially negative affect on student mental health. I am neither anti-art nor pro-censorship. To the contrary, as an artist and a political actor, I enjoy and even relish in disturbing, disquieting and “confusing” art. I believe art serves an important purpose in inciting debate and even outrage. I just do no think that those things should come at the expense of student comfort and well-being, especially in a space where most of us live, work and study.
But what I would actually like to talk about is the artist behind the sculpture. The Sleepwalker is part of artist Tony Matelli’s first US solo exhibition, “New Gravity,” which has come to our very own Davis Museum.
I am sure that Mr. Matelli is a talented and promising artist and I would perhaps even seek out his work, as I am interested in art that challenges the things we think of as normal and everyday. I do not, by any means, seek to defame him personally. However, as an art museum nestled in one of few remaining “women’s colleges,” the Davis is in a unique position to highlight the work of women artists who, though over represented in art schools, are severely underrepresented in galleries and museums.
The choice to hold such a large, public and lengthy exhibition of a well-established, middle-aged white man points to a profound disconnect between the Wellesley student body and the curating staff of the Davis museum. Countless art museums are showing mostly or entirely the work of a tiny sliver of artists—the straight, white and male. Why should Wellesley’s museum be one of them? The standing collection at the Davis Museum holds an exceptional number of pieces by young women artists—why not devote time, money and gallery space to those artists instead? Why not stretch the boundaries of who gets shown and use such a novel space to showcase the creative endeavors of women, people of color, queer people and all others who are absent from the marble halls of art institutions?
Moving forward, I hope this work pushes us further in conversations about art, environment and our role in upholding entrenched ways of thinking, creating and being. My hope for all of us is that we find ways to do better, by each other, by those we represent, by the world.
Zoe Krause ’16