Bizarre Sculpture Sparks Controversy at Wellesley

A strange new art exhibited at Wellesley College is turning heads.

Students at Wellesley College, an all-women’s school in Wellesley, Massachusetts, are scratching their heads over a new art exhibit that has spilled out of the school’s Davis Museum and onto the side of the road. Called Sleepwalker, the sculpture was created by artist Tony Matellli and depicts a sleeping man dressed only in his underwear. The lifelike sculpture’s risqué fashion sense—combined with the fact that it’s installed on a stretch of road that hundreds of students walk and drive on each day—has drawn mixed reactions.

Tony Matelli, Sleepwalker, 2014.
Photo from The Davis Museum at Wellesley College

Some students have found it amusing, some think it would be less jarring if it was moved indoors, and others have found it creepy at best and terrifying at worst. One student even launched a petition on www.change.org, calling on Wellesley’s president to “remove the uncomfortable and potentially triggering statue put up without student consent.” The Swellesley Report noted that other students had protested by putting pajamas on the sculpture.

Photo by Alex Lee
Photo from www.bostonmagazine.com

Lisa Fischman, director of the Davis Museum, explained the sculpture’s message and the purpose of its outdoor placement on Wellesley’s website.

“He is inert, as sculpture. But he does inspire narrative. He appears to have drifted away from wherever he belongs and one wonders why; one wonders also how he has gotten so lost, so off course. He is a figure of pathos, and one that warrants our measured consideration. Perhaps he carries metaphorical weight.”

Fischman also notes that “art has an extraordinary power to evoke personal response, and to elicit the unexpected.”

For students at Wellesley, the scantily-clad sculpture is certainly unexpected, and if that is the goal of art, then perhaps the artist has achieved some degree of success.

Tony Matelli: New Gravity is on exhibit at Wellesley from February 5 through May 11, and so far, the school has not moved the conversation-starting sculpture indoors.

What do you think of the sculpture? What is the goal of art, and does the sculpture fulfill that goal? If something similar were installed at your school, what would your reaction be?

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
art sculpture Wellesley College

About Stephanie Farah

Stephanie Farah

Stephanie is a former writer and senior editor for Carnegie Darlet and CollegeXpress. Stephanie holds a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's in Journalism from the University of North Texas. At various times she has been: an uncertain undergrad, a financial aid recipient, a transfer applicant, and a grad student with an assistantship and a full ride. Stephanie is an avid writer, traveler, cook, and dog owner. 

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Carlie Cadet

Carlie Cadet

High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me learn about an abundance of scholarships available to me and my situation. I was able to do research for colleges in my best interest with your website. I've had multiple colleges email me and offer me multiple scholarships and things of that nature because of this website! Thank you so much for uploading scholarships I didn’t even know existed, even if my life took a huge turn and I wasn’t able to go to college straight out of high school. CollegeXpress helped me a lot in high school to be even more motivated to get into my dream college (which I did, by the way). I'm looking forward to using the materials CollegeXpress has kindly provided me for free to look for scholarships to help pay for college.

Laura Wallace

Laura Wallace

High School Class of 2019

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is that it features student writers so I get an inside perspective from students slightly older and farther along than me. I realize that other college websites also utilize student writers; however, I relate the most to the college writers that I read articles from on CollegeXpress.

Nazira Abdelkhalek

Nazira Abdelkhalek

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2014

I am very honored to be this year’s recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship! This scholarship is vital to helping me achieve and fulfill my dreams, and gives me confidence and motivation as I begin my college career. The CollegeXpress website has been invaluable over the past year as I planned my educational and professional goals. I highly recommend it to all students as they begin to focus on their college and career interests. The website is a wonderful guide to schools and scholarships.

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me gain interest in many colleges/universities and many scholarships. I would say the most helpful thing CollegeXpress has done for me is sending me emails that tell me certain types of colleges are interested in me as well as emails about scholarships that I can look at and possibly apply for.

Lexie Knutson

Lexie Knutson

High School Class of 2021

This whole website has helped me overcome the attitude I had before. I was scared to even approach the thought of college because it was so much. I knew it wasn’t just a few easy steps, and I panicked mostly, instead of actually trying. Without realizing it, CollegeXpress did exactly what I usually do when I panic, which is take it one step at a time. With college I forget that because it’s more than just a small to-do list, but this website was really helpful and overall amazing. So thank you!

College Matches