Women in the Face of History banner exhibit makes public debut where George Washington took oath of office

Friday, Jun 4, 2021

federal hall building exterior depicts photographic banner installations of the works in the exhibition

Federal Hall National Memorial and the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy have collaborated with New York University to bring six artistic works commemorating the first time some women were granted the right to vote, to Federal Hall’s Wall Street façade, in an exhibition entitled Women in the Face of History beginning on June 4, 2021 through August 31.

These works are part of a larger project organized by the Park Avenue Armory with New York University and eight other New York City cultural partners, in 2020, to commemorate the centennial, of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The year-long program entitled 100 Years/100 Women brought together 100 commissioned artists and cultural creators invited to respond to and interrogate the complex legacy of women’s suffrage.

Women in the Face of History is part of a New Day at Federal Hall initiative by the Conservancy and National Park Service, to engage the public with the site’s history as the birthplace of American government--its ideas, ideals, flaws and contradictions—through the work of artists. The exhibit features one image from each of the six artist on a 6x20 foot banner, descending between the monumental columns with the title of the work, all in juxtaposition with the recognizable statue of George Washington at the place where he was inaugurated as First President.

The works in the installation include:

The Red Coat by Renée Cox, invoking a woman of strength and power, Queen Nanny of the Maroons, to highlight that women are protagonists of often undervalued histories;

American Flag by Jennifer Ling Datchuk, prompting recall that all women in America did not get the franchise in 1920, left out were Asian American, Native American and Black women;

Unsung Heroines, Absent Monuments by Rose DeSiano, suggesting new monuments to celebrate the unrecognized historic and contemporary contributions of women during a time when public spaces are problematized and politicized;

Witness in the Face of History by Adama Delphine Fawundu, asking us to confront history and to consider who was excluded from the telling and restore women, from all backgrounds and perspectives, to their rightful place in our civic celebrations;

Oshun Orisha Fertility by Yelaine Rodriguez, lifting up a spiritual image and tradition from the Caribbean, to remind that the struggle for suffrage and gender equality was waged by women of different experiences, cultures, and economic backgrounds; and

Women’s Work, Never Praised, Never Done by Deb Willis, retrieving the stories of Black women in the struggle for the vote.

Women in the Face of History encourages examination of the complicated history of suffrage in America and to engage the complexities of historical narratives, enduring inequalities, and the contested meanings of citizenship and rights.

Women in the Face of History is co-curated at Federal Hall by Ellyn Toscano director programming and partnerships for NYU in Brooklyn; and is organized by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy and Federal Hall National Memorial.

Learn more at federalhall.org