Wichita State University is home to many exceptional sculptures permanently displayed throughout campus. Recently, Francisco Zúñiga’s “Three Women Walking” was re-located from its original placement due to the massive renovations underway at the Rhatigan Student Center. Moving this hefty bronze sculpture was no small feat. Weighing in at two tons, it required construction equipment and precision guidance to situate the work just north of its original location.
Zúñiga’s sculpture seems to be a straight forward representation, but subtleties in expression, gesture, and formal technique indicate there is more going on. In this sculpture, two figures walk in stride with one another. This pair continues forward with their backs to the solitary third woman moving in the opposite direction. No more than two steps away from each other, there is an air of tension caught in the space between them.
In the pair, the large, full-faced woman turns her head over her shoulder as if speaking to her elderly companion. However, her flippant posture and expression indicate that, while speaking to her friend, the subject of the comment seems directed at the lone young woman who is well within earshot.
This passive aggressive gesture reads on the face of the young woman. Her expression shows a prideful resolve, but a resolve that needed to be drummed up after the sting of an insult. In her left hand, she seems to be holding something. Perhaps a monetary exchange was made in conjunction with a social one.
Zúñiga is one of Mexico’s prominent sculptors and a master of portraying the anatomy of young, mature and elderly women and the complexities of femininity. “Three Women Walking,” in its new setting, remains a pleasure to view, and the tension between the figures continues to captivate.