Women's Rights Pioneers Monument

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Women's Rights Pioneers Monument
Womens-Rights-Pioneers-Monument Meredith-Bergmann 2021-05-13 19-05.jpg
Subject
LocationNew York City, New York, U.S.
Coordinates40°46′14″N 73°58′21″W / 40.7705°N 73.9725°W / 40.7705; -73.9725Coordinates: 40°46′14″N 73°58′21″W / 40.7705°N 73.9725°W / 40.7705; -73.9725

The Women's Rights Pioneers Monument is a sculpture by Meredith Bergmann. It was installed in Central Park, Manhattan, New York City, on August 26 (Women's Equality Day), 2020.[1][2] The sculpture is located at the northwest corner of Literary Walk along The Mall, the widest pedestrian path in Central Park.[3][4] The sculpture commemorates and depicts Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–1883), Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902), pioneers in the suffrage movement who advocated women’s right to vote and who were pioneers of the larger movement for women’s rights.[5][6]

It is the first sculpture in Central Park to depict historical women. (A statue of the fictional character Alice in Wonderland is the only other female figure depicted in the park.)[7] Original plans for the memorial included only Stanton and Anthony, but after critics raised objections to the lack of inclusion of women of color, Truth was added to the design.[8][9][10]

History[edit]

Since 2013, the Statue Fund/Monumental Women campaign dealt with the City to "break the bronze ceiling" in Central Park to create the first statue of real women in the Park's 165-year history.[11][12][13]

Monumental Women raised $1.5 million in mostly private funding to pay for the statue,[14] including contributions from foundations, businesses and over 1,000 individual donations.[15] The statue campaign is dependent on private donations.[16] Several troops of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York have donated money from their cookie sales to the fund[17] and the fund has received a $500,000 grant from New York Life.[18]

The effort has the support of numerous elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, every member of the New York City Council Women’s Caucus, Congresswomen, U.S. Senators, as well as historians, foundations, and others.[19]

The Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument was created by sculptor Meredith Bergmann,[20] who in July 2018 was chosen out of 91 artists who applied for the commission to create the statue.[21]

The New York City Public Design Commission approved Bergmann’s statue design on October 21, 2019.[22] The sculpture was unveiled in Central Park on August 26, 2020, also celebrated as Women’s Equality Day, to mark the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote nationwide.[23][24]

Statue design and process[edit]

In 1995, the artist Meredith Bergmann was working on a film set in Central Park and noticed there were "no sculptures of actual women of note and accomplishment." and 23 years later she was the sculptor who was awarded the commission for the design chosen to honor women of the suffrage movement in Central Park.[25]

The call for sculptors involved a Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals, in which Monumental Women invited sculptors to submit illustrations of previous work, curriculum vitae and their approach to the design of the monument in sketch, text form or both. 91 artists from across the nation applied. The submissions were reviewed in a blind selection process by a diverse jury consisting of art and design professionals, historians and representatives from the New York City Parks Department and the Monumental Women.[26] Four qualified finalists were invited to submit models for the monument[27] with Bergmann ultimately receiving the commission.[28] The competition was coordinated and managed by architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP.[29]

The statue depicts Sojourner Truth speaking, Susan B. Anthony organizing, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton writing, “three essential elements of activism,” in Bergmann’s vision. Bergmann researched the women extensively, painstakingly studying every photo and description she could find in order to accurately portray not just their physical characteristics, but also their personalities.[30] She believes it is important that a monument to them be “larger than life” to reflect the large impact that they had on history.[31] Bergmann worked on a tight timeline to complete the statue in time for the unveiling on August 26, 2020, the fastest she’s ever completed a work of this scale.[32] After receiving approval for her design from the New York City Public Design Commission in October 2019,[33] Bergmann immediately began creating the 9-foot-tall clay figures. The rest of the process, including making molds, casts, pouring the molten bronze, final touch-ups and patina, took nearly all the remaining time until the scheduled unveiling on August 26, 2020.[34]

The sculpture was installed in Central Park on August 25, 2020, to mark the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote.[35][36]

Criticism[edit]

The Statue Fund/Monumental Women campaign has withstood criticism during the approval process of Bergmann's statue. The initial design of the statue featured Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton holding a scroll listing the names of 22 other suffragists.[37] This was criticized as marginalizing these 22 other activists (seven of whom are women of color) and reducing them to a mere footnote. In the second maquette of the statue, the scroll was removed entirely, leaving only Stanton and Anthony.[38] This version of the statue was unanimously approved by the New York City Public Design Commission.[39]

The Commission mostly issued critiques regarding the artistic elements of the statue, but concluded their statements saying, "(...) the Commission gives approval conditioned upon the understanding that, separate from the statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the applicant will work to identify meaningful ways to acknowledge and commemorate women of color who played an active role in the Woman Suffrage Movement."[40] However, the monument began receiving public criticism about its lack of representation of women of color. This seemed an especially acute issue given that the subjects of the statue, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, were co-editors of the first few volumes of The History of Woman Suffrage, a six-part history of the women's suffrage movement that, some scholars and journalists claim, largely omitted the contributions of black women.[41] This criticism was made despite a word search of the first three volumes of The History of Woman Suffrage finding African American woman suffragists mentioned at least 85 times, often with much detail and direct quotes. Sojourner Truth is mentioned over 50 times, Frances E. W. Harper 16 times, Mary Shadd Cary four times. Historian Rosalyn Terborg-Penn said she used The History of Woman Suffrage and Stanton and Anthony’s newspaper, The Revolution, to help identify African American woman suffragists.[42]

In the wake of public criticism, the statue was redesigned again, this time featuring three figures: Anthony, Stanton, and Sojourner Truth.[43] Truth, an African American abolitionist, suffragist, and activist, was active in the same time as Anthony and Stanton. Many people are satisfied the inclusion of Truth as representation of women of color in the suffrage movement. However, Truth is most famous for her 1851 "Ain't I a Woman" speech,[44] and Monumental Women lists this speech as a reason for her fame.[45] Several versions exist, as provided at The Sojourner Truth Project and the one most commonly reproduced portrays Truth as using a southern slave dialect unlikely for a New Yorker.[46] It was written by Frances Dana Barker Gage, nearly twelve years after the speech was given, and the statue does not specify any version.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Central Park is unveiling a statue of women's rights pioneers. It's the park's first statue of real women". CNN. 2020-08-26. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  2. ^ "Central Park unveils statue of women's rights pioneers — its first statue of real-life women". CBS News. 2020-08-26. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  3. ^ "First Ever Central Park Statue To Honor Women". 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  4. ^ "The Statue Fund Announces The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Movement Monument Design Competition Winner". www.businesswire.com. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  5. ^ Moore, Chadwick (2015-07-12). "Fighting to Bring Women in History to Central Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  6. ^ Hines, Morgan (2020-08-26). "'We have broken the bronze ceiling': First monument to real women unveiled in NYC's Central Park". USA Today. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  7. ^ Eric Levenson, CNN, Tawanda Scott Sambou CNN, Deborah Brunswick. "Central Park is unveiling a statue of women's rights pioneers. It's the park's first statue of real women". CNN. Retrieved 2020-08-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Sculptor crafting first women's statue for Central Park". AP NEWS. November 21, 2019. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  9. ^ Thompson, Erin (2020-08-25). "The Problem With NYC's New Women's Rights Monument". ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  10. ^ Jones, Martha S. "Perspective | How New York's new monument whitewashes the women's rights movement". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  11. ^ "The New York City Council - Committee on Parks and Recreation". legistar.council.nyc.gov. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  12. ^ MAKERS. "Central Park (Finally) Builds Its First Real Female Statue". MAKERS. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  13. ^ "The New York City Council - Committee on Parks and Recreation". legistar.council.nyc.gov. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  14. ^ staff/jake-offenhartz (2017-01-18). "There Are Nearly 150 Historical Male Statues In NYC, And Only 5 Female Statues". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2020-01-15. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  15. ^ "Sculptor crafting first women's statue for Central Park". AP NEWS. 2019-11-21. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  16. ^ Offenhartz, Jake. "There Are Nearly 150 Historical Male Statues In NYC, And Only 5 Female Statues". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2019-05-24. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  17. ^ "The Statue Fund Announces The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Movement Monument Design Competition Winner". www.businesswire.com. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  18. ^ Offenhartz, Jake. "There Are Nearly 150 Historical Male Statues In NYC, And Only 5 Female Statues". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2019-05-24. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  19. ^ MBPO (2017-11-15). "Womens' Suffrage Events in New York". Gale Brewer. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  20. ^ Sayej, Nadja (2018-08-02). "'It's about time': Central Park's first historical female monument to arrive in 2020". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  21. ^ Dziemianowicz, Mikey Light, Joe. "Sculptor chosen to design the first statues of real women in Central Park". nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  22. ^ "Central Park to get first statue honoring women". AP NEWS. 2019-10-21. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  23. ^ "Design unveiled for Central Park's first statue dedicated to real women". 6sqft. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  24. ^ "Lynn Sherr: Statue of NO limitations". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  25. ^ Sayej, Nadja (2018-08-02). "'It's about time': Central Park's first historical female monument to arrive in 2020". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  26. ^ "The Statue Fund Announces The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Movement Monument Design Competition Winner". www.businesswire.com. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  27. ^ Colangelo, Lisa. "Finalists for Central Park women's suffrage monument unveiled". www.amny.com. Retrieved 2020-01-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ "Statues of historic women coming to Central Park". www.ny1.com. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  29. ^ "Sculptor crafting first women's statue for Central Park". AP NEWS. 2019-11-21. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  30. ^ "Sculptor crafting first women's statue for Central Park". AP NEWS. 2019-11-21. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  31. ^ "CBS2 Gets Exclusive Studio Tour As Sculptor Creates First Statues Depicting Real-Life Women For Central Park". 2019-11-25. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  32. ^ Delikat, Stacey (2019-12-13). "Sculptor finishing Central Park women's monument". FOX 5 NY. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  33. ^ "New York's Central Park to erect first sculpture honoring women". The Guardian. Associated Press. 2019-10-21. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  34. ^ "Sculptor crafting first women's statue for Central Park". AP NEWS. 2019-11-21. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  35. ^ "Design unveiled for Central Park's first statue dedicated to real women". 6sqft. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  36. ^ "Lynn Sherr: Statue of NO limitations". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  37. ^ Bellafante, Ginia (2019-01-17). "Is a Planned Monument to Women's Rights Racist?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  38. ^ "A Monument to Women's Suffrage Receives Unanimous Approval Despite Controversy". Hyperallergic. 2019-03-19. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  39. ^ "Press Release" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  40. ^ "New York City Public Design Commission Meeting Minutes" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  41. ^ Staples, Brent (2019-05-14). "Opinion | A Whitewashed Monument to Women's Suffrage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  42. ^ '’African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920'’, p. 4
  43. ^ Brown, Nicole (2019-08-13). "Sojourner Truth added to proposed women's suffrage monument in Central Park". amNewYork. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  44. ^ "Celebrate Women's Suffrage, but Don't Whitewash the Movement's Racism". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  45. ^ "About » Monumental Women". Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  46. ^ "The Sojourner Truth Project". The Sojourner Truth Project. Retrieved 2019-11-16.

External links[edit]