Prior to Statues for Equality, only 5 of 150 total statues of historical figures in New York City depicted women. On August 26th, 2019, that number tripled to 15, with the addition of Cate Blanchett, Gabby Douglas, Tracy Dyson, Jane Goodall, Nicole Kidman, Janet Mock, P!nk, Cheryl Strayed, Tererai Trent, and Oprah Winfrey. You can see all of these statues displayed together in Lower Manhattan, near the South Street Seaport.
These 10 statues are just a start, though. Statues for Equality is an ongoing public art project by artist team Gillie and Marc, who accept nominations and donations for future statues. The next statue has already been announced: Justice Ginsberg. Their long-term goal is to make female representation in public art equal to that of men, creating a full pantheon of women for future generations to admire.
My hope for the future of this project is to see more site-specific sculptures to inspire local pride. How about a statue of activist Jane Jacobs in the West Village, or photographer Alice Austen on Staten Island’s North Shore? Visitors to the Algonquin Hotel could tip their hat to writer Dorothy Parker as they walk by, and trailblazing politician Shirley Chisholm could forever represent her Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn neighborhood. Who would you like to see?
Probably the best thing about this project is that it opens the conversation for new possibilities. The canvas is blank, the bronze is yet un-cast. A whole world of women’s history is yet to be told, and made, with these sculptures.