Recognize artistic merit of statue


Though it sounds like a joke, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, and New York City councilwoman Julissa Ferreras were being painfully serious when they suggested the city sell the Queens statue, the "Triumph of Civic Virtue," on Craigslist because the statue is sexist. The statue in question depicts a man, representing virtue, stepping on two women's vanquished bodies, representing vice and corruption. On a simplistic level, the statue may be misconstrued as sexist — but that is only if the viewer completely ignores the symbolism and the historical context of the statue. To levy the charge of sexism against a piece of art with a relatively clear, non-sexist symbolic message is asinine on the part of both Weiner and Ferreras. Clearly, neither of them ever took an art history class.

The statue is more than 100 years old and crafted in an obvious Greco-Roman style. As such, it follows that a man is used to represent virtue and two women — sirens, to be specific — are used to represent vice and corruption. By today's standards, the statue may seem sexist, but Weiner and Ferreras have to remember this statue was not crafted according to today's standards. In fact, it was made by somebody who had no idea what today's standards would be. Weiner and Ferreras have to consider the historical context of the piece before they start slinging such baseless accusations. They also have to remember that the major point of the piece is the symbolism of virtue's triumph. Instead, both of these politicians are getting bogged down by the peripheral minutiae, rather than addressing the main points of the issue. Coincidentally, this seems to be a problem all politicians have whenever they attempt to address any sort of issue, but that's a topic for another day.

When it comes to the arts, the United States — considering its status as a developed country — has not always been the most supportive. This is yet another instance of this chronic lack of support for the arts. Perhaps if the governing bodies of this country took a little more interest in arts and culture, politicians such as Weiner and Ferreras would not be making mountains out of molehills when it comes to perceived immorality in art objects. And, if Queens really must sell the piece, they should at least give the statue the respect it deserves and sell it to a respectable collector or museum. Hawking the statue on Craigslist would be an insult to the piece, the artist and the entire population of Queens.


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