UPDATE: On Oct. 25, the National Park Service denied Catharsis on the Mall a permit for the R-Evolution statue. An NPS spokesman said the statue would distract from the monuments and could damage the turf. Catharsis on the Mall was granted a permit to hold their event.
Organizers of an arts festival have launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring a giant statue of a naked woman to stand on the National Mall, next to the Washington Monument.
Catharsis on the Mall organizers need $90,000 to bring artist Marco Cochrane and his team to assemble the statue in D.C. ahead of the festival, which is scheduled for Nov. 10 to Nov. 12. The statue would remain on the National Mall until March.
The statue -- a 45-foot tall, naked woman made of steel -- is meant to project female strength and represent a world without violence against women.
And yes, the naked woman statue will be facing the White House, organizers say. Although planning to bring the statue began last September, before the election, R-Evolution’s positioning carries a timely statement about female empowerment, its creator said.
"This message might be needed more than ever. Still, even without [President Trump], this societal problem of violence against women," Cochrane said. "That would exist."
But that message is open to interpretation, he said -- just like the name, which can be pronounced either "our evolution" or "revolution."
Cochrane does hope viewers will see the statue and wonder: "What would the world be like if women weren’t afraid?"
He was inspired to build this statue because after a childhood friend was sexually abused.
When he was 7 years old and living in the Bay Area of California, Cochrane’s best friend was a 9-year-old girl, he said.
"One day I was told, in way too much detail for a little boy, that she had been raped right outside of my house. It was incomprehensible, horrible, I never forgot, I never understood... it still haunts me," he said.
"The guy must not have seen her as a person," Cochrane said. "If he had, he wouldn’t have done this."
Unsuspecting visitors may be surprised at the sight of a 45-foot-tall naked woman near the Washington Monument, but the woman’s lack of clothes is not meant to be sexual, Julia Whitelaw, Cochrane’s creative partner, said.
"We want people to look at the sculpture and see the person. Don’t be scandalized. Once in the presence of this sculpture, you will not be."
Money raised through the crowdfunding page will go towards transporting, installing and insuring the sculpture, Catharsis on the Mall organizer Sanam Emami said.
Assembling the statute requires Cochrane and his team to weld 55,000 points, bringing together thousands of feet of steel rods and stainless steel mesh. Interactive lighting will illuminate the work.
Cochrane himself will follow two flatbed trucks bearing all the pieces needed to make the statue.
Organizers say they also need volunteers to hold a 24-hours a day, seven days a week vigil around the statue. They are already asking interested people to sign up for a vigil shift on their website.
A National Park Service representative confirmed they are reveiwing a permit request from the organizers, and said it is normal for the park service to require organizers to constantly watch any structure needing a permit.
"As with all First Amendment activities, our review is to ensure public safety and that park resources and values are protected; we do not take into consideration content of the message presented," NPS spokesperson Michael Litterst said.
R-Evolution is one of three statues in the Bliss Project, a series of sculptures modeled off artist and musician Deja Solis. "Bliss Dance," which stands at 40 feet tall, made its home on Treasure Island in San Francisco. The 55-foot "Truth is Beauty" sculpture stirred controversy when it made its permanent home in San Leandro, California.
Everyone is welcome to attend the free Catharsis on the Mall event, which will feature art, music and all-night dancing -- and, if the money is raised, a giant statue of a naked woman staring down the White House.