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The ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Is in Limbo

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When a bronze statue of a girl with fists on her hips first appeared at Bowling Green, a short distance from Wall Street, in 2017, her defiant expression captured the imagination of women looking for a symbol of economic empowerment. She became known as the “Fearless Girl” and found a new, though also temporary, home at the steps of the New York Stock Exchange in 2018, where thousands of tourists still gather every year for selfies with the four-foot-tall sculpture.

But is the “Fearless Girl” now facing eviction? Public officials have delayed a hearing on making the bronze a more permanent part of the city’s landscape. The sculpture’s fate depends on the Public Design Commission, a panel appointed by the mayor to oversee the city’s art collection. The group will not hold a hearing until December at the earliest. Meanwhile, the artwork’s three-year permit, with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, will expire on Nov. 29.

“We are being left in limbo,” said Kristen Visbal, the artist who created Fearless Girl.

A landmarks commission spokeswoman, Zodet Negrón, said that the agency typically would not issue a violation while a permit application is active.

The 250-pound statue was commissioned by the financial firm State Street Global Advisors to push for more gender diversity in the corporate world, and initially had a one-week permit from the city. It was a hit. Admirers posted thousands of pictures of it on social media, and prominent women like Chelsea Clinton and the actress Jessica Chastain applauded its message. However, detractors called the statue an act of “corporate feminism” and a “marketing coup” for a financial firm that months later agreed to pay $5 million mostly to settle gender discrimination claims.

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