Looks like women are finally getting honored for their monumental achievements in both American and New York City history thanks to two initiatives pushing for more female representation in the city’s statues. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund and She Built NYC are setting precedents for bringing permanent public works depicting women to the streets in monument form.
Last month, The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund announced the winning design for an upcoming statue of the famed female suffragettes by sculptor Meredith Bergmann, whose piece will be erected in the park on August 26, 2020, just in time for the centennial anniversary of the establishment of women’s right to vote. Gothamist reported that the statue will showcase the figures cast in bronze and writing out arguments for women’s rights on an elongated scroll. The pair is well-known for penning the lady’s liberation paper, The Revolution, which ran in print from 1868 to 1872.
According to Gothamist, the organization said in a press release that they’re proud “to have broken the bronze ceiling to finally start the creation of the first statue of REAL women in Central Park’s 164-year history.”
A monument for the women’s suffrage movement has been in planning for several years. A request for proposals went out last November, to which 90 sculptors submitted designs. As Bergman’s chosen design awaits approval by the New York Public Design Commission, a model of the statue is on view at the New York Historical Society through August 26.
Another program helping to elevate women’s historical contributions to New York is She Built NYC, a new advisory panel put together by the De Blasio administration that’s dedicated to preserving and highlighting female figures in New York from 20 years ago or more. Through the City’s Percent for Art program, She Built NYC will select nominated figures for public works projects to go up over the next four years. This fall, the panel will vote on the first submitted nominations, which were collected during an open call this summer. The Department of Cultural Affairs has already committed up to $10 million for these new public monuments. The chosen subject and site of the first project will be announced in January.
“There are big gaps in our City’s public art, with few statues of women, trans, and gender nonconforming people,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray in a press release. “The message that lack of representation sends is that these people have no value and did not make contributions to our city. This first step we are taking will help us more accurately show the diversity in the people who helped make New York City so great.”
The upcoming Elizabeth C. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony statue will mark the sixth statue in all of New York depicting a female historical figure. The others depict Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman. It will also be the first statue in Central Park’s 840 acres to honor real women. The other 23 statues are of men while the only two female statues are fictional characters Juliet and Alice in Wonderland.