Look up!…New Courthouse Statue

Look up!...New Courthouse Statue

Meera Nagulendran, Staff Writer

Ever wonder what that large pillared building next door is? We often sit on the steps or meet our friends there for lunch, perhaps without thinking about the building itself. Our lovely next door neighbor is the New York State Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Kind of a big deal, right? 

Next time you are walking to pick up your Whole Foods sushi or Sticky’s chicken tenders, take a quick look up to be greeted by a shimmering, eight-foot tall golden woman. Don’t worry, she’s not hard to miss.sEmerging from a pink lotus flower and wearing a Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspired lace collar, she acts as a “form of resistance in a space that has been historically dominated by patriarchal representation” according to artist Shahzia Sikander. Sikander, who formerly served on New York’s mayoral advisory commission, further explains that she created this work as a way to incorporate women back into the political agenda after Justice Ginsburg’s death and the overturning of Roe V Wade. 

This  piece of art is titled  “NOW”, to not only allude to the National Organization of Women, but also to draw attention to  women’s rights in the present moment.

The “NOW” sculpture is not the only place Baruchians can recognize Artist Shahzia Sikander’s work. Right across the street in Madison Square park is another sculpture, “Witness”, who acts as another trailblazing woman in the legal field. Likewise to “NOW”, “Witness” illustrates the importance of incorporating more women in the field of law.

 “Witness” is a bit bigger than “NOW” and is wearing a hoop skirt inspired by the stained glass dome on top of the courthouse. Sikander says that the hoop skirt symbolizes the need to  “break the legal glass ceiling”. Instead of a hoop skirt, “NOW” has a lotus to symbolize wisdom, and horns to represent autonomy. 

As previously mentioned, the statue is wearing a lace collar to highlight Justice Ginsburg’s countless contributions to women in the legal field. “NOW” is the only woman on the courthouse, standing next to f Confucius, Justinian, Lycurgus, Moses and Zoraster. This symbolizes women being on  equal footing with the men traditionally in power.  In Sikander’s artist statement she discusses justice, socio-economic, political equality and gender bias. 

         It wasn’t a surprise that very few individuals knew about this at school, but those who did were, at the very least, impressed. . Blake Levine, a current senior, said“the statue is empowering, she’s really inspiring”. 

       Diana Di Rico, the assistant principal, concurs. “I noticed Witness first in passing, and immediately loved the power and curiosity of the figure. Her roots and curls are vibrant, and she’s clearly a reminder of the dynamic nature of female power.  When I discovered a sister statue sits atop the courthouse, I couldn’t wait to turn the corner and see her there in all her glory.”