Walk along Memorial Walkway and pass the sculpture, “Woman Sitting on Bench.” You may notice the latest evidence of stupidity on our campus. Some readers will more than likely roll their eyes at these words. But the reason for this letter, is that I’m not only angered by the act, but also by our lack of response to it. This “prank” is an act of vandalism. The act shows disrespect, rudeness and ignorance; qualities of hubristic people. The pranksters probably thought it was funny. I’ll tell you why it’s not.
In order to repair the damage, all of the patina will need to be removed. Patina is a film or incrustation produced on the surface of old bronze and often esteemed as being of ornamental value. The patina of the Statue of Liberty is green. That green color is produced when a mixture of chlorides, sulphides, and carbonates applied to the surface of bronze oxidizes with air. In order to get the “Woman on Bench” back to her its original form of white patina, the entire statue will need to be stripped, chemicals re-applied and cured – many hours of man power and expense will go into this process.
But it’s not just the repair forcing more work on the art handlers. It’s the lack of respect to the artist, George Segal. The “woman” was his daughter. Lehigh University raised funds to acquire this piece. The piece was chosen after the artist’s death. Our institution agreed to maintain this piece of art on our campus. This act of stupidity is akin to desecration.