***Editor’s Note: This article was published as part of the satirical April 1, 2015
The Davis Museum recently announced that shortly following spring break, Tony Matelli’s famed sculpture “Sleepwalker” will be reinstalled on the Wellesley College campus. The move to reinstall “Sleepwalker” follows a long stream of student requests to bring back the sculpture: students sent emails, forwarded petitions, and even started a GoFundMe just to bring the “Sleepwalker” back to his rightful place. Or, that is, places.
Because of the high student demand for the Sleepwalker’s return, the sculpture will be placed in various locations across campus. In addition to reinstalling the Sleepwalker in its original location across from the Lulu, Sleepwalkers will be placed in the Academic Quad, on the shore of Lake Waban, in the Tower courtyard and in several other surprise locations, which are yet to be announced.
“We wanted to make sure the students were surprised by the installation,” Davis Museum spokesperson Deborah Dickinson said. “We loved the intense reactions we got last time. Students were confused, horrified, perplexed and disgusted. All great art should make you a little nauseous.”
Upon hearing the news of the sculpture’s return, students began to reminisce fondly about the Sleepwalker’s initial arrival on campus. “I was walking home alone from the library at 2 a.m., and it was snowing out. All of a sudden, I saw a man walking towards me, naked, arms outstretched. His presence made me feel immediately safe and comforted.
In fact, I can only walk home in peace when I see a strange male figure looming in front of me. It helps that he’s life- size, too,” Cathy Cross ’16 mused.
During his time at Wellesley, the statue had become beloved and students were sorry to see him leave.
“Samuel (the Sleepwalker) was like family to us,” Cross noted. “He was just like another Wellesley sibling: balding, middle-aged, frightening.”
“We wanted to make sure the Sleepwalker was back in time for this year’s Spring Open Campus,” Emma Emerson, a Wellesley admissions representative, stated. “We know that some prospective students of the class of 2019 weren’t here to see Wellesley under eight feet of snow and we wanted them to have the same feeling of dismay.”
Wellesley’s housing office was also excited for the class of 2019 to see the Sleepwalker for the first time.
“We already get a lot of criticism for not having enough single rooms available, and especially with Munger closing next year, we figured halving the size of the 2019 class would be the easiest solution. We couldn’t think of a better way to say ‘spend the next four years of your life here’ than greeting them with Samuel Sleepwalker in his tighty- whities.”
Tony Matelli’s high profile and artistic notoriety are also welcome at Wellesley, given that Wellesley has never accomplished much as an institution and desperately needs help boosting its name recognition.
“Wellesley is a top-level institution that belongs in the news more often. A day where we don’t see Wellesley trending on Facebook, Twitter and the New York Times is really a day wasted,” Top-level College Administrator Sally Sylvester noted.
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity, after all. I’m just glad we have extraordinary men like Mr. Matelli, and the Sleepwalker himself, to get this historic women’s institution into the limelight,” Sylvester added.
Tony Matelli himself could not be reached for comment for this article, although one can only assume that he is thrilled about the whole affair. His most recent work is, as always, evocative and enigmatic: mostly yellow paint splashed, Jackson Pollock-like, across broad swaths of campus. Inspired by the whimsical, irreverent additions to his work done by students in the spring, Matelli also added an architectural element to his oeuvre, adding spray paint to many buildings around campus.
“I love that as I walk into Pendleton there’s just spray paint everywhere,” Nicole Nickerson ’15 said. “I genuinely think we didn’t do enough talking about the Sleepwalker last year and it’s nice to constantly be thinking about it.”
Finally, the reinstallation of Sleepwalker replicas across campus will be a critical part of the Campus Renewal and beautification projects.
“Nothing complements classic Depression-Gothic architecture like a sculpture or two of a mostly naked middle-aged man,” Wellesley’s landscape designer, Jackie Jacobsen, added. “What can I say? It’s a cliché for a reason.”
Photo Courtesy of Professor Nikki A. Greene