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.
A few year ago, 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.
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.
RAISING AWARENESS OF MINORITIES AND WOMEN OF COLOR WITHIN THE SUFFRAGE FIGHT
The 19th amendment states: 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. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. This amendment did legally give all women the right to vote, but, laws within each state varied and did create complications for many women in exercising this right. Jim Crow Laws in the South impeded many African Americans from voting until the 1960s and Native Americans did not have full voting rights in all 50 states until 1970. Asian-American women could not vote until 1952. Women's history is often times over looked, we think this anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate and discuss the many challenges related to voting in the past and present for women and people of color.
We featured a woman of color from the suffrage era everyday on Instagram for Black History Month. We are not interested in talking about Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other well known suffrage fighters, there will be plenty of projects doing that. We will be focusing on women like Ida B Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Forten Purvis and so many more. We will continue to use our social media platforms to feature these women.