An outdoor art installation at an all-female college in Massachusetts is drawing criticism from some members of the student body who argue the statue is unnerving and triggers "thoughts regarding sexual assault."
The statue, called "Sleepwalker," is a life-sized replica of a man sleepwalking in the snow wearing only his underwear. The statue, created using bronze and paint, is part of local sculptor Tony Matelli's exhibit, "New Gravity," currently being shown at the Davis Museum at the all-women school Wellesley College, located west of Boston.
The Davis Museum's website states that the museum intentionally chose to put "Sleepwalker" outside in order to draw students and faculty into Matelli's indoor exhibit. However, some students at the college have complained about the statue, going so far as to start a Change.org petition asking Wellesley President H. Kim Bottomly to have the statue moved indoors.
"The sculpture of the nearly naked man on the Wellesley College campus is an inappropriate and potentially harmful addition to our community that we, as members of the student body, would like removed from outdoor space immediately, and placed inside the Davis Museum. There, students may see the installation of their own volition," reads the petition.
"[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."
"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 petition adds.
As The Boston Globe reports, various Wellesley students have stopped to snap photos of the statue with their iPhones, and the life-like quality of the large bronze sculpture has prompted several people commuting in cars to slam on their brakes and double take at the work of art.
School President Bottomly released a joint statement with Davis Museum Director Lisa Fischman on Wednesday standing behind the outdoor installation.
The piece of art "has started an impassioned conversation about art, gender, sexuality, and individual experience, both on campus and on social media," they said, according to The Boston Globe. "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."