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A lounging Lady Liberty to lie down in Arlington for the next year

A 25-foot-long lounging Lady Liberty is emigrating from the New York area and taking up residence in Arlington, among its bronze Marines and steel spires.

During the first week of August, “Reclining Liberty” — inspired by traditional Asian art depicting the reclining Buddha on the path to enlightenment — will move to the front lawn of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Arlington. She will be transported by truck and a crane will position her.

“Reclining Liberty” hoisted by a crane (via Zaq Landsberg/Instagram)

After year-long stints in Harlem and Liberty State Park in New Jersey, she will lie in repose in front of the recently rebranded art museum in Arlington (3550 Wilson Blvd) until July 28 of next year, per a press release from MoCA Arlington.

MoCA Arlington Curator of Exhibitions Blair Murphy tells ARLnow she reached out to artist Zaq Landsberg and sold him on bringing Lady Liberty to Arlington. They agreed it would be fitting to juxtapose her and Arlington’s war memorials and defense infrastructure and D.C.’s monuments.

“Recontextualizing ‘Reclining Liberty’ in Arlington makes sense for our current moment. Placing it within a few miles of Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, the National Mall, etc, adds a new layer onto the work,” Landsberg said in a statement.

“[It] allows for a new set of meaningful interactions with different communities, and adds to the local and national reevaluation of monuments — their history, how they function in public space, how they’ve changed from their inception, and their impact on society,” he continued.

Against this backdrop, MoCA curators say they hope “Reclining Liberty” encourages viewers to contemplate the ideals of the Statue of Liberty.

“I love that the work brings the Statue down to the eye level and reach of the public. Its playfulness and accessibility suggest that the ideals of liberty and freedom represented by the Statue of Liberty are active, tangible, and evolving and need to be directly engaged with, debated, and defended,” Murphy said in a statement.

“Reclining Liberty” was originally installed in Morningside Park in Manhattan in April of 2021. Last May, she moved to New Jersey to greet those taking ferries to Liberty Island, per the press release.

Her arrival will be marked with an opening celebration with an artist talk, food, art and other family friendly activities on Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The museum also has a series of accompanying talks and conversations, in partnership with Arlington Public Art, which will address issues related to the work: the role of monuments and memorials in public life, immigration and democracy, Murphy said. A schedule is forthcoming.

The budget for the project is $45,000, which includes the costs for the programs. Funding from Arlington Public Art is covering half and MoCA Arlington is covering the other half, Murphy said.

“Arlington Public Art is delighted to co-sponsor this ‘enlightened’ temporary public art project in the County’s Maury Park,” Director of Arlington Public Art Angela Anderson Adams said in a statement. “We look forward to the community conversations that this sculpture will inspire including those related to monuments and memorials, immigration, and our democratic ideals.”

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