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On the Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New York State, Artists Explore Voting Rights

Detail from The Golden Lane by Natalie Baxter (photo credit: Mary Alice Franklin)

On November 6, 1917, women won the right to vote in New York State. ArtsWestchester’s Give Us The Vote exhibition commemorates this anniversary with works that shine a light on the suffrage movement, as well as works that examine barriers to the voting ballot that still exist in America today.

For instance, Natalie Baxter’s suspended white and gold flags and umbrellas reference the 1916 protest during which delegates had to walk through a line of women wearing white attire with gold sashes and umbrellas. Laurel Garcia Colvin combines images of women’s rights figures from throughout history, leading to the recent women’s rights marches, along with protest signs and resources for visitors to write to their local representatives.

A robust lineup of events look at what it took to get to this point, and the work that still needs to be done for equal voting rights for all citizens of the United States.

 

November 2: An Evening with Ari Berman. The journalist and historian will speak about the Voting Rights Act before a Q&A session and book signing.

November 3: Freedom Sings! Legendary musicians and storytellers Kim and Reggie Harris discuss traditional African-American spirituals and freedom songs.

November 6: The Art of Politics: A Talk with Louise Bernikow. The historian will discuss a historical perspective on the suffrage movement in New York State.

November 11: Create, Converse and Rock the Vote! Artist Pedro Nel Ospina invites visitors to create their own mini voting booth and share what the right to vote means to them. Register to vote with “Rock the Vote!”

January 18: Use Your Words. Spoken word poet Toni Blackman will lead a workshop in the art of freestyle (improvised) rap. Register to vote with “Rock the Vote!”

Other organizations throughout the county are also taking a look at the history of women’s suffrage and voting rights:

 

Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

In conjunction with ArtsWestchester’s Give Us The Vote exhibition, two artists have created a voting booth for Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA), which is on view through December 17. For Women Warriors, four large-scale panels by artist Isis Kenney depict women such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth as comic book superheroes who fight for human rights. Culture-laden flags by popular muralist Cey Adams are also on display. According to HVCCA Director and Co-Founder Livia Straus, “[the exhibition] looks to history to teach what has been accomplished and what ingrained issues still must be addressed.” Kenney and Adams both use bold visual signifiers of hip-hop to address what it is to be an American.

New Castle Historical Society

New Castle Historical Society (NCHS)’s exhibition explores women’s suffrage and the life of Carrie Chapman Catt, a leading suffragist and former New Castle resident. Through historic documents, replica artifacts such as “Votes for Women” sashes, pennants and buttons, as well as historic photographs of suffragists participating in rallies, this exhibition explores the story of the men and women who fought for the creation of the 19th amendment. Catt, a founder of the League of Women Voters, was a driving force in the expansion of the suffragist movement as she proposed that supporters campaign for suffrage on the state and federal levels simultaneously. The exhibition is on view through June 30.

Neuberger Museum of Art

In Neuberger Museum of Art (NMA)’s Votes!, a set of wall panels, provided by the New York State Museum, delineate the struggle for voting rights that women faced between 1848 and 1917. The project also focuses on New York-based cartoonist and suffrage activist Lou Rogers, who was born Annie Rogers. Her political cartoons had a pro-women stance and were published in many magazines and newspapers. Finally, a voting booth in conjunction with ArtsWestchester’s Give Us The Vote exhibition will be designed as an art installation by Purchase College’s Political Science class. The booth will be on view at Purchase College after November 7.

For more info on HVCCA: hvcca.org; NCHS: newcastlehs.org; NMA: neuberger.org; ArtsWestchester and Give Us The Vote, visit: artsw.org/giveusthevote.


A version of this article first appeared in the November issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews

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