NEW YORK -- The globally popular statue of a young girl will keep staring down Wall Street's famed "Charging Bull" through February 2018 instead of being removed this coming Sunday, the mayor said.
She's "standing up to fear, standing up to power, being able to find in yourself the strength to do what's right," said Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appeared with the "Fearless Girl" statue Monday on the lower Manhattan traffic island where the two bronze figures face each other.
The mayor said the political turmoil surrounding Republican President Donald Trump makes the endearing child particularly relevant.
"She is inspiring everyone at a moment when we need inspiration," he said.
The 4-foot-tall, 250-pound ponytailed girl in a windblown dress was installed this month to highlight the dearth of women on corporate boards as she stands strong against the 11-foot-tall, 7,100-pound bull. The girl became an instant tourist draw and internet sensation.
On Monday morning, Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, of New York, led a group of prominent women in front of City Hall to honor the artist, Kristen Visbal, and State Street Global Advisors, the asset management firm that commissioned the work and, with the McCann advertising firm, helped Visbal create her sculpture.
"She was created to bring attention to the courage and unrealized power of women in so many fields, and she has clearly struck a nerve," said Maloney, who is pushing for the statue to become a permanent installation.
Visbal said the positive response to her artwork "renewed my faith in sculpture to make an impact on society, to create a debate the way a good piece of art should."
She has received more than 1,000 emails from India, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and elsewhere, including one from a mother who wanted to wallpaper her daughter's room with the girl's image.
"I see men and women as the ying and yang of society," Visbal said. "They bring different things to the table. They solve problems in a different way. But we need to work together."
"Fearless Girl" will stay in place for another 11 months through an art program of the city's Department of Transportation that manages lower Broadway near Wall Street.
Visbal said one of her models was a friend's young daughter, whom she asked "to envision staring down a great big bull and, boy, she really had style." The girl was white, and the creative team then incorporated another girl, a Latina, "to come up with a child that has universal appeal," Visbal said.
The fictional figure is linked to a very real message: Women make up only about 16 percent of U.S. corporate boards, according to the ISS Analytics business research firm.
Artist Arturo Di Modica's bull arrived after the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of Americans' financial resilience and can-do spirit. He wants the girl gone, calling the statue an "advertising trick" fashioned by two corporate giants, while his sculpture is "art."
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