U.S. News


Realistic Half-Naked Statue Causes Controversy On Campus

A convincing statue of a man sleepwalking in his briefs has been installed on the Wellesley College campus, and some students find it frightening.
Posted at 6:06 PM, Feb 05, 2014

​Students at the all-women Wellesley College are demanding that a statue of a nearly naked man be taken down.

The statue, by artist Tony Matelli, is titled "Sleepwalker." It depicts an older gentleman stripped down to his briefs doing just that: sleepwalking. However, if a Change.org petition is a telling sign, some college students find the man more frightening than thought-provoking.

The petition reads, in part: "This highly lifelike sculpture has … 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." (Via Change.org)

The statue is part of a gallery installation featuring Matelli's work at the college's Davis Museum.

Boston Magazine reports the two-floor exhibit is meant to "upend expectations and challenge" people's perceptions of art.

On the museum's Facebook page, the curators seemed thrilled to have the unusual piece on display.

And museum Director Lisa Fischman defended the sculpture on the museum's official website, explaining the piece is doing exactly what it's intended to do: prompt a discussion.

"I love the idea of art escaping the museum and muddling the line between what we expect to be inside [art] and what we expect to be outside [life]." (Via Wellesley College)

The anchors at WBZ-TV voiced their opinions. 

"I love the fact it is supposed to provoke dialogue. What is the dialogue? It looks like the walking dead meets a Hanes commercial." (Via WBZ-TV)

The Boston Globe caught up with the creator of the Change.org petition, Zoe Magid, who says she's disappointed with the decision to leave it outside and feels the museum director is failing to address the concerns of students who feel unsafe. 

The petition on Change.org calls for the statue to be removed and placed inside a museum where it can be viewed with the rest of the artist's work.