How art and artists can transform the world.
One of the most popular new works of art to emerge in recent weeks is the bronze Fearless Girl sculpture by Kristen Visval that has rapidly become a symbol and rallying point for the women’s movement.
It was placed on March 8 in Wall Street at the intersection of Broadway and Morris streets, to draw attention to gender inequality and the pay gap in the corporate world. The sculpture – which became an instant tourist draw, and has been seen by thousands of visitors to New York since it was installed — had been due to be removed on Sunday.
Now New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the sculpture will stay in place at least until March next year. The statue was “standing up to fear, standing up to power, being able to find in yourself the strength to do what’s right”, he added. “She is inspiring everyone at a moment when we need inspiration.”
The art work was commissioned by asset managers State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), who have stated that one in four of the 3,000 largest traded US companies did not have even one woman on their board and the company has said that the girl represented the future.
But this young girl has had a far wider and unexpected impact. It is being recognized as a symbol of the women’s movement and can be seen on many levels to represent the strength and courage of women around the world. Fearless Girl is something all women of any age, shape, color or creed can relate to.
The sculpture has been created by Kristen Visbal, an American sculptor who was born in Uraguay, and who now lives and works in Lewes, Delaware. She specializes in lost-wax casting in bronze. She attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her latest creation, Fearless Girl, is a 50-inch high (1,300 mm) bronze, installed on the Bowling Green in Manhattan’s Financial District.
According to Visbal, “The young girl says soft and sensitive equals strong and capable — The piece is pungent with Girl Power!”
In a March 8 press release she stated that “All women should relate to this work,” she wrote. “It should inspire the young to dream as if anything were possible and simultaneously encourage today’s working woman to hold her ground, no matter what challenges may come barreling down the pike.”
The piece was a collaboration with State Street Global Advisors and McCann New York in celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8, and Women’s History Month.
The Charging Bull sculpture was originally guerrilla art by Italian-born artist Arturo Di Modica. Installed in 1989, the bronze was meant to represent the “strength and power of the American people” in response to the market crash in 1987. But it become a popular attraction and was allowed to stay.
The impact of the Fearless Girl sculpture, and one that has not escaped anyone that sees it, lies in the fact that in spite of the confrontation by the iconic bull of Wall Street, the young girl braces herself and defiantly stands firm. As she faces off against the bull, she has become a potent symbol for the awakening strength in today’s international woman”s movement.
However, in an article on Artnet, a darker view of the story behind the sculpture is described.
“In contrast, Fearless Girl, created by artist Kristen Visbal, is a carefully calculated play—some say a publicity stunt—by financial firm State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) and advertising firm McCann New York. As Nick Pinto put it at the Village Voice: “Too Bad That Statue of a Girl Staring Down the Wall Street Bull Is a PR Stunt by Wall Street Patriarchs.”
“As such, the work’s pro-women message is a bit tainted. Both companies are predominantly run by men: Hyperallergic crunched the numbers and found McCann’s leadership was only 27 percent female. SSGA was even worse at just 18 percent. The gender gap, the very thing The Fearless Girl appears to be fighting, is alive and well at the companies that brought her into being. “Could there possibly be anything more patronizing,” asked Hyperallergic’s Jillian Steinhauer, “than two massive, male-dominated capitalist companies installing a branded statue of the most conceivably non-threatening version of womankind in supposed honor of a day devoted to women’s equality that was founded by the Socialist Party?”
(See the complete Artnet article https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/fearless-girl-wall-street-art-installation-extended-904112?utm_campaign=artnetnews&utm_source=032817daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=from_&utm_term=artnet%20News%20-%20European%20List%20Only )
In my opinion however, it shows that art has a great impact and can change the world, sometimes in totally unexpected ways!
This non-threatening but courageous little girl has become a potent symbol for the women’s movement as it makes its own statement about the strength and courage of women in the face of aggression — no matter what the original intent was of the firm that commissioned it.
You can never predict how art may transform the world !
see other articles at: Artnet
From the Cape Gazette, by Chris Flood, March 8, 2017.
Fearless Girl was modeled and cast in two months, a process which typically takes six to eight months. The sculpture was cast in bronze at New Arts Foundry of Baltimore, Md.