Concord Monitor | Article | Ray Duckler | 10/13/2019

Waving ‘Her Flag’ in celebration of the 19th Amendment

Marilyn Artus, an Oklahoman with roots buried deep in American soil and the spirit of pushing for human rights, had to do something.

After all, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was fast approaching. Wasn’t it worth doing something to recognize this great piece of history, time it just right to coincide with the big date next summer?

Shouldn’t the first 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment, which included New Hampshire, be recognized in some fashion – to remind us of where we were and where we need to go? Shouldn’t it be something substantive, a piece of art that will last, well, forever?

That’s why Artus was here Saturday, at the Chamberlin House on Pleasant Street. She’s in the midst of a 36-city, 14-month tour, stopping at the states that once showed some vision in 1919 and 1920, stitching together a flag that symbolizes this breakthrough.

New Hampshire, Artus’s 16th stop, ratified No. 19 on Sept. 10, 1919.

Artus chose – through an application process – artists from each state to submit a representation, an image connected to the identity of their state. Nicole LaRue was chosen, one of the elite 36 artists picked from more than 340 candidates nationally.

LaRue lived in Sharon before moving to Salt Lake City a few months ago for a job. She created the Women’s March on Washington logo, and she flew back here last weekend to have her artwork added to “Her Flag.”

That’s what the originator of this unique tribute calls it: Her Flag.

Artus’s flag.

“The time is tough, being an American,” Artus, who has three ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, told the group of about 20. “It’s not easy. We can look at this and step back to see how majestic the country is.”

Follow a map of her journey, and your head might spin. She calls it a “super-hard route. Wonky.”

There is no linear pattern to Artus’s travels, because this is a woman who pays attention to details and appreciates history, and all its arbitrary quirks.

That means she’s visiting states in the order they ratified the 19th Amendment, a chaotic dash that would make the Grateful Dead tired.

She began in Madison, Wis., on June 10. She’s been to Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Granite State, after a three-day drive from her home in Oklahoma City.

We’re number 16 on a circuit that will ultimately take Artus to Nashville on Aug. 18, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

She’s married, and I asked her what her husband thought of this idea. The one that sees her traveling around the country in a van with a sign on the door that says, “The artist in this car is traveling across the country celebrating women’s history.”

“He saw the look in my eye,” Artus told me. “He knows I am passionate and I give a (crap) about women running for office. He cares too. He’s got my back.”

She picked LaRue because “she is amazing, incredible, just extra special.”

New HampshireKara Moore