Ursinus students have been asking why The Reader disappeared. Students at Ursinus have seen this girl solemnly reading for about 20 years, and her sudden absence has worried some community members. To identify her whereabouts in an attempt to recover this studious statue, the Grizzly team contacted Julie Choma of the Berman Museum.
Choma was able to describe the girl’s origins. The Reader’s father, or some would say creator, J. Seward Johnson Jr., is somewhere in New Jersey now. He has fathered many other works and earned himself a reputation in the process. It’s been many years since Johnson Jr. reached out to find his bookworm daughter and catch up with her, and the last account of them seen together was her creation in 1980. Johnson Jr. sent The Reader to Flemington, New Jersey from 1985 through 1990. Then, she arrived at Ursinus in 1998. The Reader “was a gift of Muriel and Philip Berman,” who were art collectors and found her to be of particular interest, explained Choma. They eventually donated the girl to the Berman on August 21, 1998.
While at Ursinus, The Reader has been primarily found on the side of the Berman because of her close association with its trustees. Choma said that the girl migrated to “the front of Bomberger Hall in October 2008.” This is when trouble began for the teen. A group of boys began appearing behind her, disturbing her reading. She shrugged this off at first, but they continuously came back to taunt her. She remained calm; all she wanted to do was read. The boys became cemented behind her, unmovable from their spot, and while this aggravated The Reader, she did not flinch. She stood her ground, for that was the only place where she could go. As she progressed with her daily hobby of reading, more heinous actions took place: on multiple occasions, The Reader, as Choma said, “has been the subject of vandalism.” These assaults on the 20-year-old were the last straw, and the Berman administration acted upon the horrific matter. They decided to move her to an undisclosed rehabilitation center called “storage” to try and improve her well-being and appearance since her bronze eyes lost the spark of youth over the years.
While The Reader is recuperating elsewhere, it is relieving to know that she did not run away or get kidnapped. However, Ursinus students feel the loss of her presence and are struggling to cope with the heartache. Nicole Hope 21’ said, “I thought the statue was really cool, [and] I definitely prefer her to some of the other art [pieces].” The devastation has swept the campus, but now the truth is out: The Reader is safe.
The Reader’s story continues, but no one knows when its next page will turn. We hope she will return and send our deepest wishes to her during her recovery.