This piece of public art depicts a woman with a book sitting on a bench. Standing near her, almost hovering with one leg on the bench, is a man who appears to be explaining something.
Classmates was dedicated in 2006 on the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word. Sculptor Paul Tadlock had no idea that a frenzy over the piece was to follow. When the sculpture was revealed, some students and faculty laughed, some were angered, and nearly all gravitated toward the same nickname, deeming it the “mansplaining” sculpture.
The sculpture seems to fit the name quite well, and as a result, it inspired a fair share of memes and jokes. For example, “I’ve got it all figured out!” says the man statue. “Does he think I’m actually listening?” expresses the woman statue. Or, “Doesn’t he see I’m reading here?” Jokes like these and more have been made over the years, though some do not find the artwork amusing at all.
When it was first unveiled, there were complaints that the statue was sexist and that it was out of place on the UIW campus and in modern society in general. Though some still feel that way, most have moved on from the controversy and ignore, or make fun, of the piece altogether.
The work is made of bronze and was dedicated during Heritage Week in the 125th anniversary year of the school’s history.