Aug 28, 2019 / 6sqft / By Dana Schulz
It’s been nearly two years since artists Gillie and Marc first revealed their “Statues for Equality” project. Noting that less than three percent of all NYC statues are of women, the husband-and-wife public art specialists created a series of 10 bronze sculptures of inspirational women who were voted on by the public–Oprah Winfrey, P!nk, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, Cate Blanchett, Tererai Trent, Janet Mock, Tracy Dyson, Cheryl Strayed, and Gabby Douglas. Monday, on Women’s Equality Day, the statues were unveiled in front of RXR’s Realty’s 1285 Avenue of the Americas (h/t Untapped Cities).
As 6sqft previously reported, “Each woman depicted in the monument [stands] in the middle of an oversized flower of her own choosing, a symbol of power, comfort, and beauty.” Each is also accompanied by a plaque that speaks to her contributions to society. The statues are valued at more than $100,000 each. According to Marc, “In order to truly honor the cause, it was crucial we cast the statues in bronze. They will live on, much like the statue itself, beyond your lifetime and the lives of your contemporaries.”
Though only five of New York City’s 150 statues depict nonfictional women, there are many other cities with the same issue. As Gillie and Marc explain, of Sydney and London’s statues, only four and three percent, respectively, are of women. Therefore, the pair is working to bring Statues for Equality to these cities, as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Washington D.C., Toronto, Manchester, Melbourne, Singapore, and New Delhi. The public can nominate women to be included.
Here in NYC, other initiatives are also looking to address the disparity. Last year, the city launched She Built NYC!, a $10 million program seeking public nominations to bring more commemorations of historic New York City women to public spaces. The first of these monuments will be located in Prospect Park and honor New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (Chisholm also recently had a state park named after her). The next monument was announced in conjunction with Pride Month. It will be located in Greenwich Village andhonor transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, both of whom were key players in the Stonewall Uprising and ensuing LGBTQ rights movement. Separate from the city’s initiative, a monument honoring 19th-century investigative journalist Nellie Bly is coming to Roosevelt Island.
Additionally, the Parks Department is in the process of unveiling Central Park’s first statue of real women. The original design depicted Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, but some felt it was not an accurate representation of the suffrage movement as many African-American women were involved in the cause. The proposal has since been revised to include Sojourner Truth.
Gillie and Marc’s project also extends to Brooklyn, where an exhibit of their portrait paintingsis on view at City Point. They’ll also bring one of their signature bronze sculptures to the development, this one of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which will be unveiled on August 26, 2020.