Episode 23 of the Mavens Do It Better Podcast features Kristen Visbal, sculptor and creator of the iconic “Fearless Girl” statue. “Fearless Girl” was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors via McCann New York. The statue was originally installed on March 7, 2017, at Bowling Green in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City. The statue traveled to Los Angeles for display during the Women’s March Los Angeles on January 19, 2019.
Kristen and Heather caught up at the 2019 Women’s March Los Angeles.
Listen in as Heather talks with Kristen about how the “Fearless Girl” statue came to be.
Heather Newman: Will you tell the inspiration for it?
Kristen Visbal: So, it wasn't my idea. A friend of mine, Marta, she calls me up and she's like, you know we have this client that worked with this little girl. They want you to make a little girl sculpture. And I'm like, you know, I'm kinda done making children's sculptures, right? No, no, no. You need to do this for your, your career. As an apprentice in New Jersey I was making children's works at the foundry when I was studying lost wax casting. So I said, alright, have this guy call me. He sends me a compiled image off the net of a charging bull and this little girl. She's got braids, a little dress and sandals on and I burst out laughing and he's like, she's like facing down the bull, you know, a little tiny girl. And he's like, can you make that by the end of December and it's November 30 or something. And I said, okay, I can. And I'm thinking now I find out he's going to go to Wall Street, right? So, I meet the girls who conceived of the idea at McCann New York and it's, the advertising industry is predominantly a male Caucasian industry and they felt like they were not really being heard. Their ideas and there is Charging Bull sitting there for 29 years who's supposed to be the strength of the American people, the strength of the financial market, but that over time had become representative of the old boys club on Wallstreet and women not being promoted, not getting the salaries that they deserved. Right? Equal pay for equal work. So, uh, we wanted to place the work in celebration of International Women's Day, but we were only going to put her there for four days. So we started this committee process on the phone where we were brainstorming and we wanted a child that looked like today's child. So we put high tops on her in the simplified draws. And I did like 11 sketches, all these different hairstyles. And we landed on a ponytail because that can be a professional style for an adult woman. And we wanted a child that was really strong. So I actually referenced the wonder woman pose and we wanted a child so that we would be making a statement about the future of business with women in it. Women's future in business. Right. That was the whole point. Then we spent a lot of time on the fact that we did not, when I first had my model, I said, come on Ellie, imagine being strong in front of a great big bull and she makes this pout, right, kind of belligerent. And so we're, you know, as a committee we're like, no, no, no, no, no. We don't want the anger. We just want strength. So I toned it down. If you look at “Fearless Girl”, she's strong, not belligerent. She knows who she is. She's not worried about the size of that big bull or the old boys club or the traditional business world. She is ready to take it on and you know, she's clever. She's smart. She can do it. So what happened was, you know, we were celebrating women celebrating International Women's Day, telling little girls that they could do and be anything that they wanted to be. But then State Street Global Advisors makes public, all these six or seven years of gender diversity studies and you have to read the studies. So over and over and over, all these different companies are saying the same thing. Hey, there are more profitable decisions. There are better decisions. They're creating a better environment, men and women together. Companies are less litigious when women are involved.
Heather Newman: Have you read any of that?
Kristen Visbal: Just go in and say gender diversity studies.
Zoe Nicholson: There's a great book by Carolyn Maloney, who's as you know in congress. and she wrote a book Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, and she has study after study in there that when women run things, everything changes the agenda changes. It's about growth and education and welfare and goodness and camaraderie and agreement and letting good ideas surface.
Heather Newman: So, these studies came out,
Kristen Visbal: Right. I met Carolyn by the way. Very nice. And she invited me come and speak.
Zoe Nicholson: She's from New York. She was photographed with the girl wasn't she?
Kristen Visbal: Yes. Absolutely. So the studies came out and you know, someone I just spoke to said, well, you know, people just don't read enough. We as women, we are obligated to go out there,, and men and read these studies. In fact, I'm always speaking to women, I really need to be speaking to men because studies show that we're this perfect balance. We're not the same. The brainscape studies shows that there's 100 differences between men and women in stressful situations. In Problem solving. And we need, each other We're better together. And For the future of our global society, we have to get over any anger and division and start pulling together and start sending a new message and re-socializing our public to understand the benefits of diversity and the, we need to be looking for the best person for the job. It has nothing to do with gender or color or anything else.
Heather Newman:And I think, you know, I was watching a Netflix series and they had a, uh, they're having all these revolutionaries telling their stories and it seems, you know, I was a theater major. Art is part of our revolution and our rebellion and all of those things and I love that you did this amazing project. It was so great to see her here at the Women's March LA today. Tell everybody your full name and all of that.
Kristen Visbal: I'm Kristen Visbal, creator of “Fearless Girl”. I want you all to know that the idea was conceived by a lot of people. We had a committee of like 30 people, different cultural backgrounds, different colors, different genders, and we all pulled together and we made it happen. I'm the only one who made the clay, but we envisioned this together. Right. And that's the whole point of “Fearless Girl”. Collaboration is better. So lose the anger. Pool together, teach the diversity message. Teach it and we will achieve the equality.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. Hey, do you have a next project coming up?
Kristen Visbal: You know, I have a, there is something brewing for New York, but I don't, I mean I really want to write a children's book. That's what I want to do. That teaches some of these messages about diversity.
Heather Newman: Thank you so much. Lovely to meet you. What a pleasure.
Kristen Visbal: Thank you.