Design unveiled for Central Park’s first statue dedicated to real women

Posted On Fri, July 20, 2018 By

Posted On Fri, July 20, 2018 By In Art, History

Photo by Tia Richards for 6sqft

Coinciding with the 170th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, members of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund unveiled on Thursday the official design of the first statue of non-fictional women in Central Park. Designed by Meredith Bergmann, the sculpture includes both legible text and a writing scroll that represents the arguments that both women — and their fellow suffragists — fought for. There is also a digital scroll, which will be available online, where visitors are encouraged to join the ongoing conversation. The sculpture of Stanton and Anthony will be dedicated in Central Park on August 18, 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote nationwide.

Pam Elam, President of the Stanton and Anthony Fund, noted that this statue is “breaking the brass ceiling” in Central Park, and leading the way as the first of several planned monuments to real women around New York City. “Our goal is to make people aware of a history that fully, fairly and finally includes the vast and varied roles that women have played in it,” she said.

Current view of Literary Walk, via Wiki Commons

The statue will stand on Literary Walk, taking a place beside figures including Sir Walter Scott and Willam Shakespeare. Stanton and Anthony were both firebrand thinkers and prolific writers, and Bergmann’s winning sculpture design incorporates that legacy into the monument.

The importance of continued passionate civic dialog, and its potential for revolutionary, non-violent change, serves as the core inspiration for Bergmann’s design.

“I’m honored to have been chosen to make this monument to a movement that transformed our democracy so profoundly from within, and without bloodshed, and that began with two women writing together, composing the most powerful arguments they could imagine,” Bergmann said. “It’s a great subject for sculpture.”

Bergmann has designed a number of other memorials both in New York City and around the country, including the Boston Women’s Memorial, the FDR Hope Memorial on Roosevelt Island and the September 11th Memorial at St. John the Divine.

Her work was selected out of 91 total submissions to the statue’s design competition. Dr. Harriet F. Senie, a member of the Statue Fund’s design jury, and the Director of the MA Program in Art History and Art Museum Studies at City College said: “Meredith Bergmann has accomplished something that seems unique. She has seamlessly expanded the definition of a monument to consist of recognizable portraits; significant and legible texts; and an invitation to viewers to participate in the essence of democracy — the right to vote.”

When unveiling the winning design, members of the jury noted that “history takes time and many voices,” and that “no single powerful individual can change society by herself.”

With that wisdom in mind, the statue’s design will include the names of many other women who fought the long hard battle for suffrage and seek to honor all the women who fought for the right to vote.

Just as history takes many voices, so does the process of commissioning a memorial, and many groups contributed to the funding and realization of the Stanton and Anthony Statue. In addition to the hundreds of individuals who donated to the campaign, funding came from the Parks Department, New York Life (where Susan B. Anthony was a policyholder), and The Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

Three of New York’s girl scout troops raised nearly $10,000 for the statue. Meridith Maskara, CEO of the Girls Scouts of Greater New York explained that working as advocates for the project help the girls learn that history was “theirs to write, theirs to act on, and theirs to memorialize.”

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All photos by Tia Richards for 6sqft

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