A little about us and our project:
We are Suzanne Whitaker and Lainey Prather, two Arizona based artists. We are so grateful to receive a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Our proposal is to create nineteen portraits of nineteen noteworthy American women who with their hearts and ambition changed things for themselves and others. This project is to honor the long fought battle for passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, when (most) women finally were able to vote. The one hundred year anniversary is in August, 2020. Please follow our progress here and feel free to contact us via the contact page.
In 2015, Lainey Prather and I produced, “Abigail,” a portrait/chair honoring Abigail Adams, our country’s founding mother. We were so enlightened to learn how much influence Abigail truly had during her time regarding many laws around women and education, primarily. But, she and all American women did not have the actual “power” to vote then, essentially no voice. That came so very many years and so many uprisings later when the Suffrage Movement culminated in the official recording of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 26, 1920. Through our research something pivotal happened and we knew we’d only scratched the surface. Getting our voices, women’s voices, heard and truly listened to is still a continuous fight and one worth fighting for every day! But, there’s a groundswell happening!
We are driven to tell the stories via portraiture (with accompanying short essays) of 19 American women to honor the 19th Amendment. These portraits will show women whose voices may not have been heard before (spanning mid-1700s to present day), or have been drowned out by misinformation, neglect or misogyny. Some will be more well known than others. And, ALL stories will tell our American history through the feminine filter and how their lives changed the trajectory for other women, be it in their local communities or in a broader scope — how their strength, courage, resilience and perseverance affected, for example, voting rights, job wages, a place at the table, ownership laws, education, etc. We feel it is so important to show young generations of Americans what “Feminism” truly means by displaying some of the women who exemplify it best. The word has been battered and destroyed. But, no radio talk show host, no CEO, no congressman, no Hollywood director, no “man of God”, or the “President” of the United States can erase the powerful stories of these women!
We humbly ask you, our much appreciated audience, to contribute to this project by sharing American women’s stories important to you, be it from your own personal experiences, an ancestor’s story, or a biography that touched you deeply because of the advancement provided for others in their communities across America. Contemporary examples are welcome too. And, we will then pare our choices down to 19, choosing the most comprehensive and varied collection of women’s narratives that represent arduous battles won and, therefore, future success for women and country today. A huge goal, we are aware! But, we truly want to pay tribute to Feminism in its untainted form and celebrate their voices in time for the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment in 2020.
The actual artwork will reflect the product sources, artifacts, fabrication, techniques, styles, etc. of the time period. For example, “Abigail” emerges from slatted and plastered walls which, after a bit of research, we copied the look of the walls of John and Abigail’s last home. And, we learned that much of the information about Abigail’s contribution to American history was preserved through letters to husband, John. So, we fashioned a three dimensional outpouring of “aged” parchment (see “Abigail” photo). Also, if we would choose to portray Harriet Tubman, for example, we might bring in railroad ties to frame her likeness. We may also use paint and plaster techniques to obtain a particular look for patinas, rusted finish, or aged crackle effect (see “paint and plaster techniques” photo). We will creatively use many substrates to coincide with the time period of each female.
Our eventual and larger goal (should we be fortunate enough to garner the interest and funding) is to make this a traveling show and connect with locations all over the country. So, we also humbly ask for your knowledge of funding sources, interested venues and/or likeminded organizations.
We thank you for your interest and hope this project will spur more appreciation for the overlooked portion of our American history.