Some students at Wellesley College, the all-women’s school in Massachusetts, don’t like the newest man on campus: a highly-realistic sculpture of a sleepwalker wearing underwear, The Boston Globe reports. Tony Matelli, the New York-based artist who is represented by Marlborough Chelsea and who has previously exhibited with the gallery formerly known as Leo Koenig Inc., is currently the subject of an exhibition at the college’s Davis Museum.
Yesterday, junior Zoe Magid started a petition on Change.org calling for the college’s president, H. Kim Bottomly, to remove the sculpture: “[T]his highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community,” states the letter written by student Lauren Walsh. “While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work in this space.” The online petition had accrued 349 signatures at press time.
No doubt Mr. Matelli will get an earful when he visits the college next week. Assuming the petition doesn’t incite administrative action (so far Davis Museum Director Lisa Fischman has maintained the importance of “provok[ing] discourse” through art), students uncomfortable with the piece have a long few months ahead: “Tony Matelli: New Gravity” will be on view through May 11 and July 20, in various galleries around campus.