"Don Quixote with a Flower" Statue
Officially named “Don Quixote with a Flower,” it is one of the many art pieces installed on the New Brunswick branch of Rutgers University. Installed in 2012, it sits at about 6 feet tall and is all-natural copper except for a painted metal flower in his hand. In 1976 Silis created a gypsum Don Quixote, later replicated in bronze (shown here), and in 1989 a smaller copy of the statue became the emblem of the Tarkovsky Prize. After some research, I found that none of the sculptures on all four campuses of Rutgers New Brunswick feature a Hispanic or Latin artist or muse. I think this connects to how Latino/Caribbean/Hispanic history and culture is often overlooked or seen as unvaluable, even in a place as diverse as a college campus. Don Quixote is a character from literary classic "El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha" by Miguel de Cervantes. Published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. After the bible, it is the most translated book in the world and is considered the “1st modern novel”. It is important to highlight why this is the only monument/art piece installed on campus that can represent "Hispanicism", and while it is a start, it is so non-representative of the population of not only Rutgers University, but New Brunswick and vicinity.
Backstory and Context
Part of Rutgers University Latino Stories of New Brunswick and Vicinity, choosing "Don Quixote with a Flower" was difficult given that my peers and fellow colleagues chose (and may have been better off for doing so) restaurants, churches, schools, and other public places with a straightforward history and evident reasons as to why they appeared in the first place. That is not the case with this statue.
This statue sits beautifully outside of James Dickson Carr Library in Piscataway, New Jersey on Livingston Campus of Rutgers University. Most likely an homage to Cervantes and Spanish literature itself, it is a fitting art piece to ornament the entrance of a library and place of learning.
However, after receiving this assignment (to choose a monument, landmark, place, etc. and relate it to Latino/Caribbean culture studies) it came to my attention that this is the only art piece installed outside on Rutgers Campus featuring a Hispanic muse/artist. Of the 42 monuments, statues, memorials, and art pieces featured on the Public Sculpture website, "Don Quixote with a Flower" is the only piece with very loose ties to Latino/Caribbean culture. While not directly being a monument of Latino/Caribbean culture or history, I think this connects to how Latino/Caribbean history and culture is often overlooked or seen as unvaluable, even in a place as diverse as a college campus.
As of 2018, Rutgers University has 12.2% Hispanic/Latino population. That is dwarfed by its predominantly White and Asian population, (37.6 percent and 26.2 percent, respectively). However, the residents of New Brunswick have misleading numbers on the Census. At first glance, 66.19% percent of people identify as "White". But after seeing the population by race, of the 56 thousand living in New Brunswick, 53% of the population identify with "Hispanic". Such a large population deserves more recognition, representation and resources not only throughout the neighborhood, but on the college campus.
Some might say the murals in Lucy Stone Hall are unaccounted for in this argument, however, seeing as they're inside a building, they inevitably receive less traffic and observation. The murals are incredible, but the majority population should be seeing more art representing them than a few walls inside a building on one campus. Students and passersby should be able to see an art piece on every campus of Rutgers on a walk to work, to class, or to the library. White students at Rutgers are able to see incredible pieces created and installed by German, Polish, and Russian artists, so why can't students of color?
“New Brunswick, New Jersey Population 2019.” New Brunswick, New Jersey Population 2019 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs). Accessed November 20, 2019. http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/new-brunswick-population/.
Gale Research. "Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra." In Encyclopedia of World Biography, edited by Paula K. Byers, Vol. 7, 395-397. Gale, 2004.
“Nikolai Silis. The Palindrome Artist.” Nikolai Silis. The Palindrome Artist | The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine, February 11, 2015. https://www.tretyakovgallerymagazine.com/articles/1-2015-46/nikolai-silis-palindrome-artist.
Tretyakov Gallery Magazine
Tretyakov Gallery Magazine