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.
Within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, the highly lifelike sculpture by Tony Matelli, entitled “Sleepwalker,” has become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for some members of our campus community. 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.
As the sculpture was placed in a highly trafficked location, it is difficult for students wishing not to see the “Sleepwalker” to travel to the campus center and the residential and academic quads.
While the sculpture may not trigger, disturb, or bother everyone on campus, as a community it is our responsibility to pay attention to and attempt to answer the needs of all of our community members. For those among us who find the sculpture triggering, daily activities that require moving about the campus may be seriously impeded by the nature, location, and context of the sculpture.
In signing, we assert that the undue stress that the “Sleepwalker” causes some of us is enough reason to move it inside the Davis Museum. We also stand firm that art, particularly outdoor art installations, are valuable parts of our community. We welcome outdoor art that is provocative without being a site of unnecessary distress for members of the Wellesley College community. Further, we ask that in the future, the Davis Museum and the College notify us before displaying public art, especially if it is of a particularly shocking or sensitive nature.
Updated Feb. 5, 2014