02 Jun Controversial ‘sleepwalker’ statue is targeted by yellow paint vandals

You might have thought that as a bronze statue company, we are used to some weird and wonderful requests – and we are. However, much as our recent Michael Jackson story uncovered just how unusual – not to mention unusually-placed – other statues in our world can be, so similar could be said of a certain much talked-about statue to have appeared at a Massachusetts campus.

Some of you might have already guessed that we are, indeed, referring to sculptor Tony Matelli’s Sleepwalker, the lifelike fiberglass depiction of a man sleepwalking in his underwear. It’s been on its present spot near Wellesley College since February, but was just recently subject to an assault with yellow paint, with several other locations on the campus also being vandalized.

As for what Sleepwalker could have possibly done to attract the attention of the vandals and be left with yellow paint on its face, left arm, left leg and a foot, well, we think it might have something to do with the criticism that it has drawn in certain quarters over recent months. Given that Wellesley is, after all, a women’s college, it’s not a massive surprise that some students demanded its removal due to its threatening appearance.

Sleepwalker isn’t the only Matelli creation to grace the campus right now, with the nearby Davis Museum showing a wider exhibition of his work. The outdoor statue, though, has been the subject of the greatest number of comments. It portrays a nearly naked man with his eyes closed and arms outstretched in a zombie-like pose, and if it does look a little unnerving, perhaps that was the whole idea.

In defending his work, the artist suggested that people were missing the point, commenting to CBS News: “This is a person who is an outsider, he’s displaced. I thought the reaction would be empathy. I think that these people are misconstruing this work. I think they’re seeing something in this work that isn’t there. But who am I to say how people should react to this?

“It was chosen for that site for specific reasons. It was placed there because you can see it from the upstairs exhibition room, and it becomes part of the show in a different way. ”

Not all of the students agree, however, with 750 of them having signed a petition on Change.org urging that it is taken down. Some have suggested that the statue makes them uncomfortable and frightened, and even that it evokes associations with sexual assault.

For Wellesley President H. Kim Bottomly, however, her message about this latest incident was clear: acts of vandalism were “criminal in nature and carry potentially serious consequences.” As a premier bronze statue company, we here at Big Statues can’t exactly disagree.

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