Lisa Fischman responds:

Lisa Fischman

Dear all,

Thank you for your engagement and for your thoughtful response to Tony Matelli's Sleepwalker, which was installed this afternoon on the Wellesley campus.

Art has an extraordinary power to evoke personal response, and to elicit the unexpected. We placed the Sleepwalker on the roadside just beyond the Davis to connect the exhibition -- within the museum -- to the campus world beyond. 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). I watched from the 5th floor windows today (intermittently, over several hours) as students stopped to interact playfully with the sculpture. They took selfies with him, snapping pics with their phones, and gathering to look at this new figure on the Wellesley landscape -- even as the snow fell.

Matelli's Sleepwalker -- considered up close -- is a man in deep sleep. Arms outstretched, eyes closed, he appears vulnerable and unaware against the snowy backdrop of the space around him. He is not naked. He is profoundly passive. He is inert, as sculpture. But he does inspire narrative. He appears to have drifted away from wherever he belongs and one wonder why; one wonders also how he has gotten so lost, so off course. He is a figure of pathos, and one that warrants measured consideration. Perhaps he carries metaphorical weight.

Art provokes dialogue, and discourse is the core of education. In that spirit, I am enormously glad to have your response.

Respectfully yours,
Lisa Fischman
Ruth Gordon Shapiro '37 Director
Davis Museum at Wellesley College

Posted on February 04, 2014
  • Paul Shearer ANN ARBOR, MI
    • 8 months ago

    Ms. Fischman,

    You have utterly ignored the substance of the petitioners' text. I wonder how you would feel if someone pushed a traumatic experience into your face and then deliberately acted oblivious to your discomfort.

  • Janet Wilkinson SPAIN, SD
    • 12 months ago

    I can't help but laugh at the moronic comments below. You women that find this offensive or disgusting need to grow up. Fast. Your pathetic whining isn't going to get you very far at all in life. If this is what your women's studies classes are teaching you then it's no wonder they are the laughing stock of the accedamic world.

  • Emily Ritsema IRON MOUNTAIN, MI
    • about 1 year ago

    Nancy Shaver...Your level of superiority and condescension is pathetic and small. The students at Wellesley who have raised objections to this "art" have very real concerns. They also are very active in other world issues. How long has it been since you have been on campus and interacted with any current students? It is very convenient that you can look into your crystal ball and pass judgment on young women who you have never met.

    "(Of course, it's written in Latin, which you may not understand.)" I have two bachelors degrees, two masters degrees, was a National Merit Scholar and co-Valedictorian and I did not study Latin. I would NOT want to match wits with many of the current students on Wellesley's campus. The use of this type of 'attack' shows that you have no valid argument. The fact remains that CURRENT Wellesley students are deeply troubled by the site of this 'art' on a daily basis and it is negatively affecting their lives. What part of that is unclear to you? I'll try to elaborate if you are having difficulty comprehending the basics.

  • Bill Frezza BOSTON, MA
    • about 1 year ago

    Thanks for providing some great material for my Forbes column. You might find it interesting.

    Art, Free Speech, Hypocrisy, Tightie-Whities, and Teenage Tantrums

    Welcome to the culture war’s latest opera buffa courtesy of Wellesley College and a lifelike statue of a wimpy middle-aged man sleepwalking in his underpants.

  • Nancy Shaver ST AUGUSTINE, FL
    • about 1 year ago

    As a member of the Class of 1968 I would suggest that all of you consider "getting a life". This is art (and you may want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with what art is--and maybe visit a few contemporary art galleries). In my time on campus, our petitions had to do with opposing the war in Vietnam, among other matters of genuine gravity. You may want to revisit the College motto--"Not to be ministered to, but to minister". (Of course, it's written in Latin, which you may not understand.)