THE RIGHT OF CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES TO VOTE SHALL NOT BE DENIED OR ABRIDGED BY THE UNITED STATES OR BY ANY STATE ON ACCOUNT OF SEX.
— 19th Amendment, U.S. Constitution —
100 years. 36 states. 1 artist’s journey.
2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It took almost a year for 36 states to ratify it into law. But on August 18, 1920, my foresisters woke up with the right to speak their voice into the policies and the people that steer this nation. Finally, they could vote.
To celebrate, Marilyn Artus will travel the path of ratification and collaborate with a female artist in all 36 states. Each will create a stripe that she will stitch together onsite in their capital city.
This journey and this flag are a tribute to the women who were bold enough to fight for this amendment and the men who were bold enough to ratify it.
My family has been in the United States since its inception. I can track family back to the revolutionary war.
I have three ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary war and my great great great grandmother Jesse Hayes was an early member of The Daughters of the American Revolution. Two family members fought for the Union during the Civil War and were captured and held in Confederate prisons.
I also had family that came West and settled in the 19th century. I have a family legacy that has actively participated in the American dream since its founding. I want to continue my family legacy of service through my art making, by honoring this upcoming important anniversary in American History, voting for women.
As I little girl growing up in the 1970s and 80s, the school text books were mighty thin with women to look to for role models.
It wasn't until I quit my commercial art job and began finally making my own work, that a feminist voice came roaring out of me. Honestly, it kinda startled me.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when I created works about the suffragist era in the U.S. Through my research I collided with some fascinating women: Harriet Forten Purvis, Victoria Woodhull, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Elizabeth Piper Ensley, Frances Wright, Ida B. Wells, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Lucy Stone, Miriam Leslie and Sojourner Truth.
They were complex and real.
They were complicated.
They were activists.
They were passionate.
They were Republicans and Democrats.
They were groundbreakers.
WHERE THIS FLAG THING CAME FROM
When I was 14 years old, I took a school trip to Washington, D.C. and visited the Smithsonian Museum. Even though much of it was missing, my strongest memory is of the colossal flag that hung over Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the war of 1812. It was the star-spangled banner, and the inspiration for the poem by Francis Scott Key that later became our national anthem.
Here was a moment in history that I could relate to. A woman had created this important thing — it was sewn by her hands, just as a young girl I had watched my mother sew clothes for me.
To this day my experience at that museum manifests itself in my art making.
I love my country, and I celebrate its potential.
Marilyn Artus is a visual artist based in Oklahoma, and her work explores the female experience and women’s issues. She has created shows that explore the suffragist era in the U.S., pays tribute to an assortment of women in U.S. history and continues to collide the many different stereotypes that women navigate through on a daily basis.
After graduating with a bachelor of Fine Arts degree she worked for 16 years as a commercial artist. In 2003, she co-founded The Girlie Show, an all female art festival in Oklahoma City that drew artisans from all over the United States to exhibit, celebrate, encourage and showcase female talent, that ran for 10 years. Each year, the organization awarded a $1,000 grant to a selected female art or design student. She also founded a branch of Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School, a cabaret life drawing class that she owned for 3 years in OKC.
Other career highlights include solo and group gallery and museum exhibitions in Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee and Washington. She was awarded the Brady Craft Alliance Award for Innovation in fiber arts in 2011 and led an art making workshop at the Brooklyn Museum in New York in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition of female pop art. She has also exhibited at the 21c Museum Hotel and the Gaylord Pickens Museum in Oklahoma City.
In 2017 Marilyn was invited by the Science Museum of Oklahoma to create a piece for their exhibit Sole Expressions, which focused entirely on shoes. For this piece Marilyn created a large flag, In Our Shoes, composed of shoes images from 364 of her Facebook friends. The collaboration of In Our Shoes has been one of the inspirations for Marilyn’s most recent undertaking, Her Flag.
Marilyn was recently in a group exhibition, In Her Hands, at the Robert Mann Gallery in New York City. A unique and timely exhibition, In Her Hands connected women artists working in the tradition of women's work with progressive women candidates running for office in the 2018 elections.
the 36 women artist collaborators
The crazy order the artists are in is the order of ratification and the way Marilyn will travel across the country
Wisconsin - Jenie Gao
Illinois - Judith Mayer
Michigan - Ann Lewis
Kansas - Jennifer Hudson
New York - Indira Cesarine
Ohio - Lindsay Scott
Pennsylvania - Jameela Wahlgren
Massachusetts - Kari Percival
Texas - Mila Sketch
Iowa - Annie Swarm Guldberg
Missouri - Rori de Rien
Arkansas - Virmarie DePoyster
Montana - Jane Waggoner Deschner
Nebraska - Cindy Chinn
Minnesota - Anne Ulku
New Hampshire - Nicole LaRue
Utah - Jann Haworth
California - Rora Blue
Maine - Amie Kennedy
North Dakota - Darby Ness
South Dakota - Klaire Lockheart
Colorado - Susan Cooper
Kentucky - Linda Erzinger
Rhode Island - Allison Cole
Oregon - Davida Fernandez
Indiana - Bonnie Fillenwarth
Wyoming - Bethann Garramon Merkle
Nevada - Lisa Jean Allswede
New Jersey - Donna Bassin
Idaho - Vina Domingo
Arizona - TaLisa Lopez-Garcia
New Mexico - Laurel Garcia Colvin
Oklahoma - Denise Duong
West Virgina - Savannah Schroll Guz
Washington - Erin Shigaki
Tennessee - Higgins Bond
As the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment approaches, I’ve taken a fresh look at the suffragist era again and will be creating a work to educate and celebrate this important anniversary.
I recently, collaborated with 364 friends on Facebook to create a large scale work and have been using the American flag for feminist exploration. I have also been feeling the need to experiment with performance art.
This project will include those three things: collaboration, the American flag, and performance art.
I met with fellow artists, curators and art leaders to talk out my passion for this cause and to figure out what the work would actually look like. What could I make that would be worthy of this cause?
In 2020 I’ll travel the path of ratification to collaborate with a female artist in all 36 states. Each of these amazing women will create a stripe that I’ll stitch together in a public location in their capital city. The people of each state are invited to celebrate this anniversary with me.
The culmination will be a new flag sewn as a thank you and a love letter to the states that gave women the right to vote.
This project is about moving forward. This project is not about Democrats or Republicans. It is about Americans. It is about celebrating an important anniversary in our history. And it is about evaluating how we can encourage more women to run for political office.
The year 2020 will be a presidential election year. It will be a tough year full of negative politics. I hope that all who participate or witness this project will have a moment of pride and a respite from the political mayhem that is sure to be swirling around us in 2020.
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