Are Nude Sculptures Appropriate for Public Art?

55 Foot Tall Sculpture of Nude Woman Latest in Art Controversy

legs sculpture

It looks like these legs are made for walking, or dancing. And they are dancing through a discussion about whether or not nude sculptures should be on display in plain site.

This particular nude sculpture will be near a BART station and some new businesses. It is being installed as part of the new San Leandro Tech campus.

The work will be 55 feet tall once the torso and arms are added to the legs which have already walked onto the scene.

Called “Truth is Beauty” the sculpture is part of a series by sculptor Marco Cochrane. The first in the series made its debut at Burning Man several years ago.

Cochrane was inspired to create these pieces because of an incident that occurred to a neighbor when he was a child. She was abducted and raped in their neighborhood.  The large sculpture depicts a woman reaching her arms over her head. At the base are the words: “What would the world be like if women were safe?”

Additionally, the Tech Campus is intended to be “woman friendly” and one of its goals is to encourage more women to enter into the tech fields.

Thoughts are mixed on the piece. While most agree that the piece is striking, some feel it would be better suited in a museum. By that they mean, somewhere behind doors or walls so children won’t be able to see it unless they are taken inside.

Some residents find humor in the controversy.

“You know how some people are. Some people don’t want to see nobody naked. Not even a bird,” said San Leandro resident William Eckels

Others don’t understand the problem.

“I didn’t think of it as offensive in any way, because it’s just a woman posing who happens to be naked, said supporter Breana Lankford. And it’s pretty see through, so it’s not like there’s going to be any explicit details.”

So far, public opinion on this piece of Public Art is running about 2 to 1 in favor of the art work.

Both the artist and the city seem to be taking the controversy in stride.

Read Darin Moriki’s original article on the Mercury-News and Devin Fehely of San Francisco’s CBS local article

Photo of the feet being installed courtesy Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group