Shaping History: Women in Capitol Art
By U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
Shaping History: Women in Capitol ArtJul 14, 2020
Meet the Artists: Conversations with Deborah Copenhaver Fellows and Artis Lane
Throughout this series, we’ve explored the lives of women as artists and trailblazers from an outside perspective, so for this last episode we are bringing you an inside look, hearing from two women who made the most recent contributions: Deborah Copenhaver Fellows, sculptor of the Barry Goldwater Statue added to the National Statuary Hall Collection in 2015, and Artis Lane, sculptor of the Sojourner Truth Bust unveiled in the Capitol Visitor Center in 2009. Similar to the women in the past, both artists share insights into finding inspiration, learning their craft, and overcoming obstacles they faced because of their gender and, in Artis Lane’s case, her race.
We are honored to include their stories, told in their own words.
Reflections on Rosa Parks
When Rosa Parks died in 2005, she lay in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol, the first woman and only the second person of color to receive that honor. When Congress commissioned a statue of her, it became the first full-length statue of an African-American person in the U.S. Capitol. It was unveiled on what would have been her 100th birthday. In this episode, listen as some of our staff at the Capitol Visitor Center talk about their personal memories of those events and the stories that they like to tell about Rosa Parks to visitors on tour. Also included in this episode are a selection of audio clips from the February 27, 2013 Rosa Parks Statue Unveiling, courtesy of the House Recording Studio.
Featured guest speakers: Adriane Norman, Douglas Ike, and Ronn Jackson, Visitor Guides, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
Votes for Women Tour – Interpreting the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the Capitol Visitor Center
With only about a dozen statues of women in the Capitol, developing a tour that incorporates the multitude of voices that make up the woman’s suffrage movement was a unique challenge. In this episode, staff at the Capitol Visitor Center discuss both the creation and the execution of the Votes for Women Tour, an interpretative journey commemorating the 19th Amendment and the Women's Suffrage Movement.
Guest speakers (in order of appearance): Maureen O'Connor, Education Specialist; Emily Boisvert, Jessica Jackson, and Alyssa Warrick, Visitor Guides, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
Women in Capitol Art
Women have been contributing art to the Capitol Collection since the time of the Civil War. What is the Capitol Collection and how are women represented through sculpture both from the perspective of artists and as subjects? In this episode, we’ll explore some aspects of this collection with special guest, Dr. Michele Cohen, Curator for the Architect of the Capitol.
Walking the Halls of the Capitol: From Lobbyist to Legislator
Imagine being the first woman elected to Congress even before the rest of your gender could vote nationwide. What barriers would you face? What hurdles would you have to overcome? What challenges would be left for others to conquer?
Featuring Farar Elliott, Curator, U.S. House of Representatives
Reform and Revolution: A Reflection on the Portrait Monument and the Women's Suffrage Movement
Imagine you are asked to make a monument that defines a movement. How do you tell a story through sculpture when the debate is ongoing, the voices are many, and the people involved don’t always agree. Who would you choose?
Featuring Susan Philpott, Park Guide at the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument and the 19th Amendment Centennial Park Ranger (Summer 2019)
Elisabet Ney and Women's Dress Reform
Imagine your greatest challenge in life is not the fact that people continuously doubt that your artwork is your own and continuously challenge you to prove it, but the simple fact that you are a woman wearing pants and it’s 1871.
Featuring art historian, Jacquelyn Delin McDonald.
Sarah Winnemucca and Sakakawea: Native American Voices in the Capitol Collection
Imagine being in a room full of men, having only a few minutes to convey the suffering and injustice endured by your people, advocating for their rights in a continual battle for survival. Now imagine not only being a different gender, but coming from a separate culture.
Guest Speakers (in order of appearance):
Farar Elliot, Curator, U.S. House of Representatives
Cari Carpenter, Professor of English at West Virginia University and co-editor of the book “Newspaper Warrior: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’s Campaign for American Indian Rights.”
Sherry Ely-Mendes, great-great granddaughter of Sarah Winnemucca, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
Sharyl Pahe-Short, Visitor Services Manager, and Adrienne Smith, imagiNATIONS Activity Center Manager, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Vinnie Ream and a Senate Debate
Imagine being considered for a huge commission with your qualifications being debated on the Senate floor. Your age, your talent, your experience are all being questioned. Now imagine your place is restricted to the balcony above, a silent observer surrounded by press.
Featuring Melissa Dabakis, Professor of Art History Emerita, Kenyon College and author of the book, “A Sisterhood of Sculptors: American Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome.”
Anne Whitney and the "Marmorean Flock"
Imagine winning an anonymous art competition knowing you were judged strictly on talent. Only on what you made, not who you are. It wasn’t about politics, it wasn’t about race, it wasn’t about who you know. The art stood for itself. Now imagine it’s 1870s America and you’re a woman.
Featuring Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, Professor of Art, Wellesley College