Editor’s Note: This blog was written and submitted by Kentucky Delegate Eugenia Potter.
With this essay, I challenge delegates to quickly survey public art statuary in their hometowns and state capitols. Some will be lucky enough to find statues and even parks that are dedicated to women. But I wasn’t so lucky.
A decade ago I found 4 life-size statues of men in the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda but no women. As director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, I was told that there was no female statue because there was no woman of national stature. But we all know that during comparable times, women were not allowed to be president or general or physician. Today, I can name reams of Kentucky women who have influenced policies, challenged barriers, led organizations and corporations and yes, deserve a statue in the Capitol Rotunda.
Fast forward to last fall when Louisville’s Commission on Public Art (COPA) made a presentation evidencing public art along downtown Main Street. One end is anchored by an energetic sculpture of Pee Wee Reese and the other end is anchored by an oversize gold statue of David, with intermittent stops at various art bike racks, all testosterone-laden images. Without commemorating women, COPA continues that outdated “men only” narrative that marginalizes women.
The idea that only men have done anything worthwhile is archaic. Without visible female statues, we deprive visitors and citizens the opportunity to celebrate the importance of women. Every female, old and young, looks at her city’s public art wondering, “Where is someone who looks like me?”
One of VISION 2020’s goals is to educate new generations of girls and boys to . . . act on the belief that the nation is at its best when leadership is shared and opportunities are open to all. One way is to make a monumental effort of retroactive justice to correct the dearth of public art dedicated to women. That way we provide the other half of the story and offer female role models that will inspire and guide future generations.
Maybe Will Rogers said it best: “You can’t pass a park without seeing a statue of some old codger on a horse. It must be his bravery; you can tell it isn’t his horsemanship. Women are twice as brave as men, yet they never seem to have reached the statue age.”
Today women have reached statue age. National Delegates and all Americans, start your inventory and take action. Vote in the Vision 2020 poll on who should be the next woman statue to be placed in the U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall. Vision 2020 will submit the results to Congress.