Legacy of Susan B. Anthony
“Organize, agitate, educate, must be our war cry…. Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”
~Susan B. Anthony~
Susan B. Anthony, an American social reformer and activist, worked tirelessly on behalf of women to secure their right to vote. She died in March of 1906, but her legacy lives on today, often linked to the feminist movement.
She was certainly considered an extremist in her time. In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in the presidential election in New York. Although she was convicted and fined in a highly publicized trial, she refused to pay it.
Despite being ridiculed and criticized for destroying the institution of marriage when she started campaigning for women’s rights, Anthony persisted in pressing for change. She also advocated for women’s rights internationally, and played an instrumental role in the creation of the International Council of Women. Over the course of her lifetime, the perception of her work and the impact it was having altered radically, and she became the first woman to have her image used on United States currency in 1979.
In painting this picture I came across many images of her that seemed rather harsh. Sure, the high collar, tight bun, unsmiling face, and stiff posture were probably just a reflection of the times in which she lived, however, I wanted to convey a warmer image. I started with yellow gesso, then did an underpainting in sepia tones, using the profile image similar to the one seen on the coin. I added some warm blue and red tones to humanize her, but she still looked like an angry nun. I don't usually paint with pink tones, but decided to do something radical, as befitting the lady herself - I added a thin wash of FLUORESCENT pink! It wasn't until I put on this layer that I was happy with the image. It added a vibrant quality, or glow, like she's imbued with special powers. To me, it represents the unique character she must have shown in life in order to create such a lasting legacy!
Without the dedication, hard work, and will-power of suffragettes and activists like her, we could not enjoy many of the privileges we experience, and sometimes take for granted, in our daily lives today.