Now on View: Her Flag

Blog Category:  NMWA Exhibitions
Three light-skinned people stand in front of a large textile installation that mimics the U.S. flag. Over the stars square "Votes for Women" is written in a yellow circle. The stripes on the rest of the flag are done in various shades of pink and red and each feature a different theme or imagery, most of which is indistinguishable from the distance the photo is taken.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, NMWA has partnered with Her Flag, a nationwide art and travel project led by artist Marilyn Artus. Artus collaborated with a group of contemporary women artists—one from each of the 36 states that ratified the 19th Amendment by 1920, to create the large flag installed on the museum’s façade along New York Avenue. On view June 9 to July 12.

Join Us!

NMWA Associate curator Virginia Treanor moderates a virtual conversation on June 16 at 1:30 p.m. on women’s suffrage and the continued fight for voting rights, particularly in D.C. Guests include Artus, Her Flag contributing artists Higgins Bond and Nicole LaRue, and Stasha Rhodes, campaign director of 51 for 51.

An artwork resembling the American flag. Instead of the stars on blue there is a large golden sign on black, reading "Votes for Women." Instead of the red stripes there are red and pink stripes with text and images of women's faces.
Marilyn Artus, Her Flag, 2020; UV grade polyester, 18 x 26 ft.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Marilyn Artus

Honoring a Historic Milestone

Artus, who is based in Oklahoma, released an open call and reached out to artists and arts organizations in each of the 36 states. She received more than 340 submissions and selected the participants with assistance from a panel of arts professionals. Each participating artist created imagery inspired by both the anniversary and her home state. Artus then adapted each artwork into a stripe on the flag.

The multi-year project included a road trip to the capitals of each participating state, in the order that they ratified the amendment. During each visit, Artus sewed that state’s stripe to the flag. However, when the coronavirus pandemic halted her travel plans after the 25th stop, she began livestreaming the addition of each stripe. Now complete, the 18-x-26-foot flag was previously on view at the William Jefferson Clinton Memorial Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, from August 26 to September 21, 2020.

The artists represent diverse ages and ethnicities, and they explored a variety of subjects. Many depicted notable women from the suffrage and civil rights movements. Others created scenes that reference the fact that the 19th Amendment did not ensure access to the ballot box for all women. Struggles faced by Native American, Asian American, Latinx, and African American women lasted well beyond 1920, and some continue today. Several stripes portray contemporary women and girls, highlighting the legacy of the suffrage movement in today’s social justice activism. “Reflecting upon this milestone gives us an opportunity to remember that partial progress is not total progress and that we must always continue to seek equity and equality,” says Artus.

The presentation of Her Flag at the National Museum of Women in the Arts is made possible by MaryRoss Taylor with additional support provided by the members of NMWA.

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