Portland author Cheryl Strayed immortalized in bronze for Statues For Equality in New York

Aug 27, 2019 / The Oregonian/OregonLive / By Douglas Perry -- Many readers of Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” her best-selling memoir of trekking the Pacific Crest Trail, have reached the conclusion that the Portland author is larger than life.

Now it’s literally true, with the unveiling of a towering bronze statue of Strayed in New York City.

Strayed is one of 10 women represented in the Statues For Equality project. The large works were unveiled Monday -- Women’s Equality Day -- at 1285 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. Husband-and-wife artists Gillie and Marc Schattner undertook the work “to balance gender representation in public art.”

The project’s website claims that fewer than 3 percent of permanent statues in New York City are of real women (some statues are of symbolic women representing ideas such as liberty). The 10 works Gillie and Marc created -- the subjects were chosen via a public poll -- are of actress Cate Blanchett, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, astronaut Tracy Dyson, primatologist Jane Goodall, actress Nicole Kidman, author and editor Janet Mock, singer Pink, Strayed, scholar Tererai Trent and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

The statue of Strayed shows her standing in a sunflower. The reason: “Sunflowers,” the artists write, “symbolize love, loyalty and longevity, paying tribute to Strayed’s time spent in the American wild.” Strayed said in a tweet she was “deeply honored” to be included in the project.

Gillie and Marc hope this New York exhibit is only the beginning, that there will be more statues of women going up in cities across the world.

“We hope that as the project expands,” Gillie said in a statement, “it will include a broader diversity of race, class, ability, sexual orientation and gender expression.”

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