In 2017, as International Women’s Day dawned, a bronze sculpture appeared in Lower Manhattan, across from the iconic charging bull figure that has dominated the Wall Street area for years. The newcomer was a four-foot-high statue of a defiant girl, staring down the horned creature.
It was commissioned and installed by State Street Global Advisors, a financial institution that displayed it in order to encourage other companies to increase the number of females employed at leadership levels and to promote equality.
Kristen Visbal, 56, the Delaware-based artist who created the instant sensation, Fearless Girl, gained recognition for this feminist work.
Two Sides Face Off
The statue and artist are in the news again, but not for the resonant image of that proud young girl. Visbal is seeking to sell replicas of her work so the equity message travels the globe. State Street Global Advisors says this will diminish the power and purpose of the work they had her create.
As the lawyers dig in, a GoFundMe has been created to help Visbal pay those fees. Those behind the fundraiser say State Street paid the permit fees for the work but Visbal owns the copyright, and that “they figure they can bully this female artist and bury her in so many legal fees that she has no choice but to forfeit her copyright.” They want to help her raise a cool $500,000 to push back with an amazing legal team leading the charge.
State Street, though, says it went to court because by making copies, Visbal is breaching her contract and diluting the value of the original artwork. They also assert that if the artist creates reproductions, anyone who ponies up about $6,000 for a copy can associate themselves with the equality message—without necessarily doing anything to promote it.