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Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument

Introduction

The Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument was installed in Central Park in New York a year ago, being the first public artwork dedicated to women. Moreover, the composition is also the first monument added since 1965 (Warsh). There are 23 monuments in the park to honor men who have contributed to history, but there are no monuments to real women (Warsh). However, many statues depict female figures and fictional characters. This outraged feminists who proposed replacing some male sculptures, particularly the monuments to Christopher Columbus and Robert Burns, with statues of fighters for women’s equality.

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The Women’s Rights Pioneers monument is dedicated to three civil rights activists: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth (Fig.1). The work of sculptor Meredith Bergman is supposed to break the so-called “bronze ceiling” in the park with 166 years of history (Warsh). Bergman’s original design for the monument was criticized as it only depicted Anthony and Stanton. Back in January, the progressive New York Times called Bergman’s project racist and pointed out that African American women were also instrumental in the fight to get women to vote. After that, the sculptor changed the project by adding a Truth figure. “My task in creating this monument was to reflect the lives and achievements of these three women,” said Bergmann, and added:

“I hope that the monument will encourage viewers to study the history of the struggle for women’s rights and continue this struggle. Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton did not live to see the 19th Amendment, and even 100 years later, we still have so much to do to achieve equality and justice for all.” (Warsh)

Role of the Monument

The monument is undoubted of great value and significance, being a critical mark, including in the history of the central park and the city as a whole. Personally, I rarely pay attention to articles made in the classic style because I find them pretty mundane. However, this monument immediately catches the eye and makes you stop to take a closer look. It seems strangely unusual to see a bronze monument dedicated to women. Indeed, the prevailing number of similar memorials, for some reason, perpetuate the figures of men. When you first see the Women’s Rights Pioneers monument, you think about why this is so, and then you realize the obviousness of gender inequality even at the level of public art. Therefore, being centrally located, Central Park simply has to embody the diversity of American society. It is unrealistic to see only white men depicted in old artworks because monuments have ceased to be installed for a long time.

Warsh
Fig.1 (Warsh).

Undoubtedly, society needs artwork to remember that there are many significant female figures in history, including notable rights activists as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. It is also worth mentioning that the new statue is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Each of the historical figures featured has contributed to the struggle for women’s rights, with abolitionist Truth also becoming the first black woman to win a case against a white male slave owner in court, managing to bring back her 5-year-old son, who was illegally sold to a slave owner in Alabama (Warsh). Therefore, the women chosen to create such a significant monument are very well suited to the sculptor’s purpose.

It is curious that as a result of the discussion of this monument and the possible need to reduce the number of male statues, public opinion was still divided. Some considered it essential not only to erect a memorial but also to remove, for example, a statue dedicated to Christopher Columbus since he is a supposedly controversial historical figure. I do not presume to judge how to do it more correctly from the point of view of historical justice, but I am sure that the first step has been taken, and there is no need to stop. The primary role of the monument is not only to prove that women took an active position in history. The resonance that was created sparked public comment. In my opinion, this is the main task of art.

Conclusion

In general, I do not think that the monument should be changed. On the contrary, I admire the accuracy of the selected female figures and the successful location. Undoubtedly, it is essential to note that if it were not for the corrected version of the monument, we would not have seen Truth on it, who, among other things, made an outstanding contribution to the struggle for women’s rights in many ways thanks to her article “Ain’t I, not a Women.” If it weren’t for this critical change, the work probably wouldn’t have been so crucial in reflecting the realities of American society. In general, in the future, we would like the diversity and representativeness of nationalities, genders, and other social structures to continue to grow among public artworks.

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Work Cited

Warsh, Marie. “Women’s Rights Pioneers: A New Addition to Central Park’s Landscape.” Central Park Conservancy, 2020, Web.

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