Wellesley College president, students react to ‘Sleepwalker’ naked man sculpture

boston wellesley college facebook sleepwalker
The ‘Sleepwalker’ sculpture that has caused controversy at Wellesley College.
Credit: Davis Museum at Wellesley College/Facebook

Officials from Wellesley College said they have no plans to remove a controversial sculpture of a nearly naked man despite more than 500 people signing an online petition to move it.

The “Sleepwalker” sculpture was recently installed outside at the women’s college as part of the opening of the New Gravity exhibit at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College.

A spokeswoman for the school said on Thursday that there are no plans to remove the sculpture.

In a joint statement, President H. Kim Bottomly and Lisa Fischman, director of the Davis Museum, said the work as created an impassioned conversation.

“As a woman’s college, Wellesley has a long tradition of discourse and dialogue, and we are proud that ours is a campus where challenging issues can be explored in a supportive environment, with respect and sensitivity, and with the intellectual rigor for which the Davis Museum and the Art Department are known.

“The very best works of art have the power to stimulate deeply personal emotions and to provoke unexpected new ideas, and this sculpture is no exception. The installation of Tony Mattelli’s “Sleepwalker” on College Road near the Davis Museum has started an impassioned conversation about art, gender, sexuality, and individual experience, both on campus and on social media,” the officials said in their statement.

Artist Tony Matelli, the work’s creator, said he was surprised by the reaction to the “Sleepwalker” and that he was instead expecting “yawns.”

Meanwhile, students and others took to social media to react to both the sculpture and the controversy it has created.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



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