This Naked Man Sculpture Is Creeping Wellesley Students The Hell Out (And We Can See Why)

Upon first glance, you might mistake this sculpture for a naked man trying to foist unwanted physical contact upon an unsuspecting woman. It could be a trigger for anyone who has experienced sexual assault, but it’s art. The realistic statue, entitled Sleepwalker, is part of an exhibit featuring sculptor Tony Matelli at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum. And since it’s February 3rd installation, it’s been creeping the students at the all-woman’s college the hell out. One of the college’s students,  Zoe Magid, even started a Change.org petition to get the Sleepwalker removed from the campus center. Lauren Walsh, the student who penned the petition writes:

“[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. 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.”


Davis Museum director Lisa Fischman responded to the petition, saying:

“We placed the Sleepwalker on the roadside just beyond the Davis to connect the exhibition — within the museum — to the campus world beyond…I love the idea of art escaping the museum and muddling the line between what we expect to be inside (art) and what we expect to be outside (life)…As the best art does, Tony Matelli’s work provokes dialogue, and discourse is at the core of education.”

But this response didn’t cut it for many students since Fischman failed to respond to the issue of the students’ safety and well-being.

As Annie Wang, an art history major at the college put it, “I think art’s intention is to confront, but not assault, and people can see this as assaulting. Wellesley is a place where we’re supposed to feel safe. I think place and a context matters, and I don’t think this is the place to put it.”

Well said. I definitely wouldn’t want to cross paths with the Sleepwalker while walking alone at night. [Boston]