If you walk along the National Mall this November, you’ll see the Smithsonian Museums, the Washington Monument, Capitol Hill, and, possibly, something else: a 45-foot tall nude sculpture of a woman.
The Amazonian figure would tower over the National Mall next to the Washington Monument, directly facing the White House until March 28 to promote women’s equality.
Organizers are trying to raise funds to transport the R-Evolution sculpture from San Francisco to Washington. They’ve gotten approval from the National Park Service to have the structure on the grounds of the National Mall.
Event organizers have raised more than $21,000 in four days to transport the sculpture across the country and assemble it, although they still have a long way to go to meet their 30-day fundraising goal of $90,000.
The organizers have also put out a nationwide call for volunteers. After the event ends, the sculpture can remain on the Mall for four months, if it is guarded by volunteers at all times.
The sculpture was created by artist Marco Cochrane as part of The Bliss Project. He said the sculpture was meant to combat a culture that increasingly dehumanizes women and sexualizes the female form.
R-Evolution is just one of three giant nude female sculptures Cochrane created with his model and collaborator Deja Solis.
He said the series spawned from an idea of feminine safety that he says he’s been wrestling with since the age of seven, when he learned that a friend had been sexually assaulted.
“These sculptures are about expressing what it would be like if women were safe,” Cochrane said. “To me this sculpture answers that question . . . She’s absolutely fearless and accepting and being able to do that is a really powerful thing.”
Julia Whitelaw, Cochrane’s creative partner, said his early sculptures were often so life-like that people felt uncomfortable looking at them, until he scaled them up — way up.
“There was such this taboo that was happening,” she said. “Men would walk in, look at the sculpture, and they would have to avert their eyes.”
Cochrane was inspired to take his art to new heights by the burning effigies at Burning Man. Instead of working in bronze or clay, he created massive sculptures out of steel rods, tubing, mesh and LED lights.
“It made it okay to look at them,” Whitelaw said. “People feel emotionally connected to these sculptures, they don’t focus on the physical.”
In 2015, the series debuted where it was born, at Burning Man. The other two pieces, Bliss Dance and Truth is Beauty, have found homes on the Las Vegas Strip and the San Leandro Tech Campus in California.
The sculpture is being brought to Washington, D.C. by the organizers of Catharsis on the Mall, an annual three-day event that features 24-hour activities, music and an effigy burn. The theme of the event this year is “Nurturing the Heart.”
“This year’s theme is in response to a lot of the social disconnect and politics going on in our community right now,” said Sanam Ememi, an activist and community organizer.
“We felt that R-Evolution represented that,” she said. “That’s why we’ve placed it in America’s front lawn.”
The four-month long vigil is also intended to raise awareness of the Equal Rights Amendment. The constitutional amendment, proposed in 1972, would outlaw discrimination based on sex, but it has yet to be ratified.
The sculptures will inevitably produce some controversy wherever they go, but Whitelaw said she’s confident that there are plenty of people excited to have art “supporting the end of violence against women and equal rights for women right there in the heart of the nation.”