Public spaces should represent a city’s diversity and values. However, if you were to take a stroll through New York City and admire its 150 statues, you would find that only 5 of them depict real women which is only 3.3%.: Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman.
This begs the question: have women really contributed to society in a big way?
“YES! Of course they have,” strongly asserts Gillie Schattner, “but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the marginalisation of women in public art.”
Gillie is part of the internationally renowned husband-and-wife artistic duo, Gillie and Marc, who are on a mission to balance gender representation in New York City’s public art scene.
“Of over 100 monumental artworks that Gillie and I have been commissioned to create,” says Marc, “we were floored to discover that only 1 was a woman! This is a dangerous realisation. Statues can either perpetuate sexist ideologies, or they can inspire young girls and boys to change biases, aspirations and perceptions about women in leadership and in history.”
The unfortunate reality is that it’s easier to find art depicting women as anonymous nudes, rather than strong inspirational figures, but the artists are on a mission to change this.
That’s why Gillie and Marc have personally teamed up with some of the world’s most powerful women, and are taking an artistic stand for equal rights with their launch of Statues for Equality on August 26th, Women’s Equality Day 2019.
The artistic activists are created 10 larger-than-life statues of incredibly inspirational figures living today, depicting women as role models through public art. Among these women are Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, Janet Mock, Cate Blanchett, and more.
Statues for Equality will be exhibited outside 32 Old Slip in NYC, to show the empowerment that these amazing women represent, and foster big dreams in young boys and girls. The exhibition will be aligned with the hashtag #StatuesForEquality, allowing the public to share their united support for the cause.
“Our goal is to have a major city in each state erect a statue of an influential woman within the next five years,” says Gillie, “We hope that as the project expands, it will include a broader diversity of race, class, ability, sexual orientation and gender expression.”
Gillie and Marc feel so strongly about the importance of equality in public art that they have entirely self-funded the project, with each bronze sculpture valued at over $100,000.
“In order to truly honour the cause, it was crucial we cast the statues in bronze,” explains Marc, “to have one’s likeness cast in bronze is an unmistakable message that your contributions should not, and will not be forgotten. Instead, they will live on, much like the statue itself, beyond your lifetime and the lives of your contemporaries.”
Gillie and Marc are asking agents of social change, fellow artists, city councils, commissioning bodies and people across the world to look at public art differently, and create a more inspiring future for equal rights.
Are you ready to join the movement?