A near-naked statue of a man with outstretched arm and a pained facial expression has created a stir at Wellesley College, where the statue is installed.
The installation by Tony Matelli is titled “Sleepwalker” and more than 770 students have signed a petition to have the statue removed, as it is a “source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault."
“While it may appear humorous, or thought provoking to some, the ‘Sleepwalker’ has already become a source of undue stress for a number of Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work on campus,” the petition reads.
The statue shows the man clad only in his underwear and appears to have been frozen in time as he sleepwalks. The Northeastern region of the country has dealt with multiple ice storms since the beginning of the year, and currently, the region is blanketed in snow.
A number of students found the installation “creepy” and some said they “freaked out” when they first saw the statue.
But despite the negative publicity, the artist is thrilled with all the attention his work is getting.
“I was talking with the curator of the exhibition and my assistant this morning, and we were saying, ‘When was the last time a work of art was talked about so much and got so much attention?’ ” Matelli told the Boston Globe. “I can’t remember when.”
On what the sculpture means, Matelli said it is about being lost.
“It can mean many things,” he told the Washington Post. “I mean, art is open. Each person comes to an artwork with their own history, their own politics, their own hopes and fears and all that stuff. To me, it’s a sculpture about being lost. It’s about being displaced. It’s literally being about asleep at the wheel.”
Meanwhile, college authorities maintained that they wouldn’t get rid of the statue as it has helped start a dialogue on sexuality, individual expression, art and gender.