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Giant statue of nude woman spurs debate on California tech campus

Some people love the message behind a new statue set to grace the San Leandro Tech Center. But not everything thinks it should stand there.

  • CBS News Staff

The beginning of a 55-foot sculpture of a nude woman takes shape in San Leandro, California.

CBS San Francisco

A new 55-foot (17-meter) statue is taking shape on a brand new Northern California tech campus, but some locals are asking whether the giant nude woman is appropriate public art.

So far, only a pair of nicely shaped lower legs have been raised, CBS San Francisco reports. It's the rest of the sculpture, called "Truth Is Beauty," that's eliciting mixed reviews.

"You know how some people are. Some people don't want to see nobody naked. Not even a bird," San Leandro resident William Eckels said.

Marco Cochrane's statue of a nude female form with a graceful dancer's body, her arms outstretched and reaching skyward, made its debut at the Burning Man counterculture arts festival three years ago. It's made of steel rods and tubing and covered with a stainless steel mesh.

Some think it's a welcome addition to the new tech campus in San Leandro, a suburb on the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay.

"I didn't think of it as offensive in any way, because it's just a woman posing who happens to be naked," said supporter Breana Lankford. "And it's pretty see-through, so it's not like there's going to be any explicit details."

The city required the developer to include public art at the new San Leandro Tech Campus, a multi-phased downtown project that will include three six-story office buildings totaling 340,000 to 500,000 square feet.

Since the design was unveiled, City Manager Chris Zappata said supporters have outnumbered opponents two to one.

"There is a dearth of representation of women in the tech industry," Zappata said. "And this hopefully will start to bring attention to that problem as well as bring public art to our community."

"Truth Is Beauty" is one of a series of monumental sculptures by the artist. "They are intended to de-objectify women and inspire men and women to take action to end violence against women, thus allowing both women and men to live fully and thrive," an artist's statement says.

The rest of the sculpture will arrive in mid-October, likely draped in the same patchwork of praise and criticism that greeted its announcement.

"I really liked it. I think it's a beautiful sculpture. Obviously, the artist is extremely talented. But I'm not sure it's appropriate for public display," said area resident Sally Wrye. "I think it's better suited for a museum where people have the option about whether that's something they want their children to view."

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