Seventh Avenue finally has a massive bronze statue to mark the very specific neighborhood that is the garment district. It is a 10-foot statue by Judith Weller depicting a male garment worker at a sewing machine, appropriately placed at 39th Street and Seventh Avenue.
But one critic, Richard Martin, the editor of Arts Magazine, finds the location about the only thing he approves of. "If the figure is to be a correct historical perception, the figure would more correctly be a woman," he says, suggesting that a female seamstress might remind the viewer of the 146 women and girls who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911.
But he would really prefer that it be gender-free. "It's possible. The Maya Ying Lin monument for the Vietnam Memorial is certainly gender-free." And it should be free of any ethnic specifics as well.
Martin, who is also executive director of the Shirley Goodman Resource Center at the Fashion Institute of Technology and on the board of the Costume Society, doesn't like the old-fashioned machine the worker is seated at, either: "The garment industry is a continuing industry in New York and machines are very different now."