Kristen Visbal’s “Fearless Girl” statue has shaken up Wall Street since it was first installed across from the iconic Charging Bull on International Women’s Day, March 8. Visbal’s statue was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors as a way to make a bold statement: more companies should add women to their boards.
The statue is a powerful symbol that has gotten attention around the world. Many are calling for it to be added as a permanent fixture on Wall Street. Visbal recently answered a few questions about “Fearless Girl” and the legacy she hopes it will have.
1. Your work is a powerful example of art making a statement. What was the inspiration for your design?
The response to this work has been overwhelming and I am thrilled! It re-seats a conviction I have that art can have long-lasting impact on society and can be a catalyst for change. My work on the piece was in response to the broader goals of the campaign led by State Street to shed light on the need for gender diversity at the leadership level and inspiring future women leaders.
2. Some consider the statue to be controversial. Why do you think that is? As an artist, do you consider controversy to be a good thing?
As an artist, I think any work which begs a question and induces debate is always a good thing! In this particular case, the fact, as multiple studies have shown, is that gender diversity at the executive level results in increased productivity. The silent question then becomes why are there not more women in leadership positions? That’s is a valid question and an issue I am more than willing to advocate with State Street through my work. More women = increased output. I feel this is a simple issue of numbers. Women comprise 50 percent of the population. Representation of these women at the leadership level is critical to foster a healthy culture, however, in order to realize an increased presence of the female, we need to close the discrepancy in education by cultivating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). In so doing, we will prepare our women to take on these key positions in leadership.
3. What message do you want people to walk away with?
Women are an integral part of the workforce and they are here to stay. The message is that young women of today, just like Fearless Girl, are the women who will impact the world tomorrow. These young women are our future! I see the disposition of the Fearless Girl as sending a message that women are strong, that petite and delicate can be strong and that, if women stick together, if they remain calm and hold their ground, they will then be able to negotiate any issue which might come barreling down the pike towards them and, in so doing, make a great contribution to society.
4. What’s your response to the lewd video that went viral?
There is always going to be some derelict like that out there. Why give him any attention in the press? He matters not at all and certainly does not diminish this work in any way. He is irrelevant. Let’s move on!
5. Do you hope the statue is made permanent?
Of course, I wish Fearless Girl will become a permanent fixture on the New York landscape. My father was raised in the city and, somehow, through me, the permanent placement of this work is like Dad returning to the roost. Artistically speaking, New York is a top market for art and I would consider permanent placement of Fearless Girl to be the greatest of honors. It is my sincere wish that she remain as an inspiration for young women and a reminder that they are strong and can make a great impact on society as a whole.