Sleepwalker statue scares students at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, sculptor is excited

By Daniel S Levine,

There’s a man sleepwalking while only wearing his underwear at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and it looks really bad for the guy, who could die of hypothermia. It is, after all, snowing there. However, no one has to worry about his health, since he’s not real. It’s actually a controversial statue by Tony Matelli.

Some students at the private women’s college are outraged and the statue is gaining national attention, especially now that there’s a petition to get it pulled down. One student’s Change.org petition has garnered almost 550 signatures and asks president H. Kim Bottomly to have “Sleepwalker” removed from outside.

“Within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, the highly lifelike sculpture by Tony Matelli, entitled “Sleepwalker,” has become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for some members of our campus community,” the student wrote. She noted that “the ‘Sleepwalker’ has already become a source of undue stress for a number of Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work on campus.”

The statue stands outdoors, although it is part of Matelli’s “New Gravity” show in Wellesley’s Davis Museum, notes the Boston Globe. It’s so lifelike that drivers have stopped short to try to avoid hitting it has they drive up to the college.

As for Martelli, he loves the attention the statue is getting. “I was talking with the curator of the exhibition and my assistant this morning, and we were saying, ‘When was the last time a work of art was talked about so much and got so much attention?’ ” he told the Globe. “I can’t remember when.”

Museum director Lisa Fischman explained that the thought behind the statue is that art has made it out of the museum. “Reaction to the ‘Sleepwalker’s presence has been varied. I have watched from the 5th floor windows, and on the ground, as students stop to interact playfully with the sculpture,” she wrote, adding, “I have also heard the opinions of others who find the sculpture troubling.”

Matelli will be on campus today to discuss his work.

image: YouTube screenshot



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