A MONUMENTAL OMISSION
There are only 5 statues honoring real women in NYC
Out of sight, out of mind.
When you walk through any public park or plaza, you can expect to see statues commemorating significant historic figures. What you’re unlikely to see is a statue honoring a woman.
In the entirety of New York City, there are just five statues honoring women. That’s a shockingly small number, especially when compared to the 145 statues that honor men. Or the 23 statues featuring animals.
Sure, you might see female statues. There’s no shortage of women at men’s memorials, nymphs in fountains and angels. It is worth noting that the idea of liberty is almost always represented by a woman. It’s when recognizing the accomplishments of real women that public art falls short.
A BREAKDOWN OF STATUES IN
NEW YORK CITY
THIS ISN’T A PROBLEM UNIQUE TO NEW YORK CITY
Countrywide, of all the statues honoring real people, less than 8% depict women. Washington, D.C., a city filled with monuments to the past, has only 13 female statues. Boston, Atlanta and Columbus each have just one.
IN MANY WAYS THIS IS A PROBLEM OF THE PAST
Before 1915 there were no statues honoring women in NYC. Today, many organizations are making an effort to reverse the trend. Notably, SheBuiltNYC has announced plans to add a statue featuring a woman in all five boroughs by 2022. Central Park, which currently has zero statues of non-fictional women, will welcome the addition of suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
San Francisco is tackling the issue with legislation - they’ve recently proposed an ordinance that would ensure that 30% of new public artworks depict real-life women.
But even with all these efforts, change will be slow. By 2022 NYC will have lifted the tally from 5 to 12 female statues.
What if we could show the world what equality looks like today?
THE SHAPE OF HISTORY
On June 7th, we showed the world what equality looks like.
In the Flatiron Plaza, next to Madison Square Park, we placed 140 statues - the amount needed for equal gender representation in New York City.
Made entirely of mirrors, each statue represented women’s role in history. From a distance, the mirrored surface made them appear almost invisible, symbolizing just how fleeting the representation of women can be. But, up close the mirrors gave people the chance to see themselves reflected in each statue – reminding us that while we cannot change the past, we can be the ones to shape the future.