Posing as statues and braving chilly winds, students stood on crates around the Yard Tuesday afternoon with signs around their necks exhibiting facts and questions about gender at Harvard. The one-hour display was part of the Radcliffe Statues Project, an event organized by the Harvard College Women’s Center to begin dialogue about gender inclusive spaces on campus.
The Radcliffe Statues Project is part of Women’s Week 2014, a series of events from March 2 to March 8 to celebrate and promote discussion on women and gender at Harvard. This year’s theme is “Women at Work.”
“A big part of [the Radcliffe Statues Project] is that it’s fun. It’s playful,” Bex H. Kwan ’14, an intern at the HCWC and an event organizer, said in reference to the project. Kwan called the event an “artist intervention,” and explained it was conceived partially to defy the perception that any discussion on women’s rights and gender inclusivity had to be angry.
“This is something that we all live,” Kwan said.
True to this message, project volunteers displayed facts about the history of gender at Harvard connected to the campus buildings in front of which they stood. The two students posing in front of Annenberg Dining Hall wore signs that said: “There are over 50 busts and statues in Annenberg. Not a single one is of a woman,” and “There are many distinguished female graduates of Harvard-Radcliffe. Why do you think they are less recognized?”
Students posed in front of seven locations around the Yard—Annenberg Dining Hall, the Science Center, Canady B Entryway, Lamont Library, Sever Hall, University Hall, and Mass Hall.
Students passing by the “statues” were encouraged to take photos with them and post them onto the HCWC’s Facebook page to be entered into a prize raffle. Mariah T. Browne ’15, a volunteer stationed at the Science Center Plaza, explained that the social media campaign was meant to spread awareness of the installation and the issues it raised beyond those who were able to see the statues in person.
According to Kwan, the project was an attempt to reach members of Harvard’s community that would not necessarily attend traditional events like panels and discussions, since it was highly visual both on campus and on the web.
“No matter how great a Women’s Week event is, as lots of people organizing events at Harvard know, attention is always limited,” said Kwan, adding that organizers wanted to “break the mold” and avoid “preaching to the choir.”
—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.