Public Design Commission temporarily extends ‘Fearless Girl’ statue’s stay on Broad Street

April 12, 2022

Photo by Ahmer Kalam on Unsplash

The New York City Public Design Commission (PDC) voted Monday to extend the iconic “Fearless Girl” sculpture’s permit to remain at her current spot across from the New York Stock Exchange, but with the caveat that plans for a permanent location must be presented in six months, the New York Times reports. The city’s vote extends the permit for 11 months, but asset management firm State Street Global Advisors, the statue’s owner, and Kristen Visbal, the artist who created the statue, must meet with the city again in six months to determine where its permanent home will be.

The by-now-familiar statue of a little girl, hands defiantly on hips, facing down the “Charging Bull” statue in Bowling Green (formerly) and the Stock Exchange steps (currently) has been the subject of a complex public art debate. As 6sqft previously reported, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted last December to keep the popular statue in its home on Broad Street for three more years, after its original permit expired.

The LPC vote addressed the statue’s placement in a historically significant location; the PDC oversees the city’s art collection. State Street requested a ten-year permit last year and is now seeking a new temporary three-year permit.

While the statue won’t face eviction in the near term, the debate on its fate is still unresolved. At the heart of the controversy is the method by which the statue’s public location was secured. Some involved parties say the city’s regular public art process was circumvented, and that Visbal’s role in discussions of its fate was minimized.

Visbal says that because the application for the original city permit was submitted via the Department of Transportation by State Street, she was kept out of discussions about its placement, whereas the public art process usually gives substantial consideration to artists’ opinions. Elected officials have also claimed they have been left out of the decision process.

Additionally, Visbal is involved in a legal dispute over the statue: As its copyright owner, she is championing her right to make and sell versions of it internationally in addition to making sure a casting of the sculpture remains in the city permanently. She would also like nonprofits and international organizations to be permitted to use images of it in their efforts to advance women’s equality.

In response to the PDC decision, Visbal said in a statement: “As the Artist and the creator of the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue, I am beyond grateful to New York City and the Public Design Commission for hearing my concerns. I pledge to work with the City to identify a fair and reasonable solution in the coming six months.”

“Fearless Girl” was originally installed to honor International Women’s Day in front of the “Charging Bull” statue in Bowling Green on March 7, 2017, and later moved to her current home at the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. Even in her early days, the defiant statue attracted controversy.


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