Novelist, essayist, and memoirist Cheryl Strayed is an American author whose books have been published in more than 30 languages. Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, chronicles her 1,100-mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, which she embarked on after losing her mother to cancer. Wild reached number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list and was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film starring Reese Witherspoon. Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of her popular Dear Sugar columns, has influenced the well-being of untold readers around the world and spawned her top-rated Dear Sugars podcast.
A long-time feminist activist, Strayed served on the first board of directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and has been active in many feminist and progressive causes.
In Statues for Equality, Cheryl Strayed is standing in a sunflower, a flower that can reach up to six feet tall and is native to North America. Sunflowers symbolize love, loyalty, and longevity, paying tribute to Strayed’s time spent in the American wild.
On August 26, Women’s Equality Day 2019, artists Gillie and Marc Schattner are bringing to life a dream, the move towards equal representation in women statues.
In a moment of deep self-reflection, they realized they had been contributing to the lack of women representation in their public art. However, the artists decided they could not sit back and let history repeat itself. Something has to change, and so with their new project, ‘Statues for Equality,’ they have self-funded ten new women statues.
Because of this project, New York is becoming the first city to change the dynamics considerably - as the ten women are launched the percentage of female statues in the city will jump from 3% to 9%. The project will launch at RXR Realty’s iconic Avenue of the Americas.
Joining the ten ‘Statues for Equality’ are portraits of each woman in a groundbreaking new show that expresses diversity and gender equality. Exhibiting alongside their permanent statue sisters at 61 Broadway, NYC, they will be on show for the public for 12 months.
The women are painted on fabric from around the world, just as they as women represent the diversity of womankind, as does the soft materials that embody strength. Each piece has its own texture, shape, and feel.
The women’s faces are depicted in black and white, where each line becomes part of the narrative of the portraits, revealing the fine attention to detail from the artists. However, their hair and clothes are full of color and patterns to challenge the ideals of how women should present themselves in society.
The use of fabric can take literal meaning, as well; even though the material is soft, beautiful, and used as a way to express individuality. Fabric is also a carrier: babies are held close to us in wraps of material; when we cannot hold everything, we us it to transport goods and objects; and it dresses us, for warmth and support.
The metaphor extends into the roles of women, and Gillie and Marc’s clever use of this medium reminds us again how important women are to our lives and the basis of society. Fabric is also another way to show our individuality.
Just as the ten women statues, made out of bronze and standing larger than life, can teach us something about diversity and gender equality, so will these fabric portraits showcase softer, tender moments of intimate and feminine representatives.
For the next 12 months, Gillie and Marc are aiming to paint 100 women, voted for by the public, who inspire greatness in our societies.
#womenforequality will become an extension of #statuesforequality – use the hashtag to vote for the most inspirational women you know, and take a photo with the paintings and statues to share Gillie and Marc’s message of equality.