‘Havah,’ a sculpture by Pakistani-born American artist Shahzia Sikander, stands in front of a courtroom in the United States as a symbol of ‘Lady Justice. The sculpture is the first image of a woman to occupy one of the 10 pedestals in Manhattan’s famed New York Appellate Courthouse.
Shahzia Sikander revealed the inspiration for her new art project to The New York Times. “Standing among Moses, Confucius and Zoroaster is the shimmering, golden eight-foot female sculpture, emerging from a pink lotus flower and wearing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s signature lace collar,” she shared.
She further added, “The sculpture was part of an urgent and necessary cultural reckoning underway as New York along with cities across the world, reconsiders traditional representations of power in public spaces and recasts civic structures to better reflect 21st-century socials and more.”
Witness, another sculpture made by Shahzia Sikander, sits inside Madison Square Park, New York. The statue depicts a monumental female figure measuring 18 feet tall, sporting a hoop skirt inspired by the courtroom’s stained-glass roof.
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“The figure’s twisted arms and legs suggest tree roots, referencing what the artist has described as the ‘self-rootedness of the female form; it can carry its roots wherever it goes’,” explained Shahzia Sikander, while talking to a global magazine named Time Out. She is also referred to as the best outdoor artist in New York by the same American journal.
“The image of justice as a woman has been present for centuries, but women only gained a juridical voice in the last one. Despite years of women’s struggle for legal socio-economic and political equality, gender bias still continues to create barriers for many women, whether it is health and education rights, equal economic opportunities, gender-based violence and race or class discrimination,” detailed Shahzia Sikander in her artist statement.