Fearless Girl represents a young woman who’s not afraid to stare down a big powerful animal—in this case the Charging Bull statue of Wall Street.
Charging Bull was originally a piece of guerilla art, created by Arturo Di Modica in Brooklyn and deposited, under cover of darkness, just before Christmas in 1989, as a gift to New Yorkers.
In the wake of the Crash of 1987, Di Modica designed the bull to symbolize the “strength and power of the American people,” and spent some $360,000 of his own money to create and cast the sculpture.
In just a few decades, however, the bull’s image has changed. It doesn’t represent the people; it represents the powerful corporations of Wall Street. And to people who view Wall Street as a place that rewards the rich and powerful, Charging Bull is something to stand up against.
As to that Fearless Girl, she was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, an institution with more than $2 trillion under management, as an advertisement for an index fund composed of companies that have a high percentage of women among their senior leadership.
Thus, the girl is the product of the marketing department of a powerful corporation while the bull is the product of one individual (and brave) artist!
But that’s not how they’re seen at all!
And Charging Bull is not the only statue in New York that is perceived differently than its creator intended.
Consider the most famous statue of all in the city, the Statue of Liberty.
But today, thanks above all to a poem written by Emma Lazarus, many people believe her primary message is a welcome for immigrants!
But Emma Lazarus’ poem played no role at the opening of the statue in 1886. Her poem was commissioned by the committee as part of a find-raising campaign to build a pedestal for the statue, and it wasn’t until after her death that a friend succeeded, in 1901, in getting a bronze plaque of the poem installed inside the pedestal.
Here’s the entire poem:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Bottom line: I wish Fearless Girl well in the future, whether she stays where she is or travels (as suggested) to places where she is needed. But it will be interesting to see if her original message is changed by time, just as those of Charging Bull and the Statue of Liberty have been.