A replica of the acclaimed “Fearless Girl” statue – and the Delaware artist who created it – made an appearance in Newark for a female empowerment event on Saturday.
The Fearless 5K, which was a fundraiser for Mid-Atlantic Ballet, drew 150 participants, many of them young girls. After the run, the participants gathered for an after-party at the Deer Park Tavern, where they heard from sculptor Kristen Visbal and posed for photos with the statue.
Visbal, whose studio is in Lewes, was commissioned by the investment firm State Street Global Advisers to create the statue in honor of last year’s International Women’s Day. The piece was installed on Wall Street in New York City, with the girl appearing to defiantly stare down the well-known “Charging Bull” statue.
“Fearless Girl” became an overnight sensation, drawing worldwide attention.
"The initial message was to celebrate International Women's Day and to send a message of inclusion to the male-dominated Wall Street community that women were part of that community and that women are very important to the future of business,” Visbal said, adding, “She's a symbol of courage that obviously the women's movement needed.”
Tim Lennon, treasurer of Mid-Atlantic Ballet, said the message of “Fearless Girl” struck a chord with him.
“I was really touched by what it meant,” Lennon said. “I have two girls and I’ve worked with a lot of amazing women.”
On a whim, he contacted Visbal to see if she would be willing to help Mid-Atlantic Ballet, which is located off Elkton Road and recently marked its 20th anniversary in Newark.
To his surprise, Visbal responded. She donated a framed photo of “Fearless Girl” for a fundraiser last year and agreed to attend Saturday’s 5K. She will return June 2 for the ballet studio’s year-end show, which will include a dance number inspired by the statue. In conjunction with the event, the organization will host a poster art contest for local students.
"It's really important to work on a grassroots level,” Visbal said. “Mid-Atlantic Ballet is in my backyard. We need to be working with young people to affect a really diverse community."
Visbal told the crowd Saturday that she has never felt discriminated against because she is a woman but understands there is a disparity between the way men and women are treated.
"We're all born into this world without any prejudice,” she said. “It's learned. We learn it from our teachers, our parents, the community around us. So unlearn the prejudice. Try and open your mind to the people around you."
Studies have shown men and women’s brains process things differently, and both methods are important, Visbal said.
“Women use a lot more white matter; they can multitask. Men use a lot more gray matter. That means they can jump on a situation and take advantage of an opportunity very quickly,” she said. “We need both to make better decisions. The sooner you understand that, the sooner we evolve as a global community."
“Fearless Girl” recently marked its one-year anniversary on Wall Street, though there has been talk about moving it and the bull statue to a different location in New York that can accommodate more tourists. Recently, Visbal began selling reproductions of the statue on her website, fearlessgirl.us, to raise money for an educational outreach program she in planning.
"It's about all of us together, respecting each other,” she said. “Be fearless."