"Don Quixote with a Flower" Statue
"Don Quixote with a Flower" by Nikolai Silis (1976)
Original "Don Quixote"
Closeup of Don Quijote's Face
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