When I first read about Mary Seacole in a New York Times Book Review article (“Nursing Grudges” by Linda Villarosa; October 2, 2022) she reminded me of a character in my unpublished historical fiction/magical realism manuscript, Waving Girl’s Last Stand (see novel except on this blog under “short stories”). Irvana is a fictional root priestess on one of the barrier islands outside of Savannah, Georgia where she found solace as a free woman after the civil war ended. In the manuscript, Irvana teaches real life Florence Martus, AKA Waving Girl about holistic healings using roots, herbs, flowers, potions, and other natural ingredients to treat injuries and illnesses. Oddly, Mary and Irvana would’ve practiced holistic medicine around the same time, yet miles apart. It was if Irvana had left Savannah, stepped off the page and then found her way to Jamaica, England and then Crimea (now part of Ukraine).

            Note to self. Don’t let anyone tell you your characters don’t seem real. Enough about me.

            Mary— born to a white father and a mother of mixed race –  was one of the few people of color to escape slavery in Jamaica in and around 1815. She watched her mother and other Jamaican women tend to the sick using holistic healing approaches. In 1820, Mary went to London, married and was soon widowed. But it was in 1851 during the endemic cholera outbreak of 1851 that killed about 200 people a day where Mary honed her skills. It was her combination of a good bedside manner, quick thinking, applied knowledge of herbs and a kind disposition that got Mary noticed.

            In 1854, her healing journey led her to the Crimean War where she acted like a field medic treating men on the battlefield. It was her heroic efforts that saved men that without her stalwart assistance would’ve died. It’s here, in Crimea, where she met Florence Nightingale. You see, Florence wasn’t the only nurse who rose to fame during the Crimean War. Although Mary was well-loved and respected, she was eclipsed by Florence, a white woman. Florence deserves her due, no doubt. She created the first pie chart and established the first makeshift mobile hospital. But the popular consensus now is that the world is big enough for two female heroes. Yet there are still those who disagree; now and then.

            Can you imagine how difficult it would’ve been for Mary, a woman of color, to make this kind of progress? When she first requested to volunteer as a nurse overseas, the government blocked her path at every turn. You could say they stonewalled her. But you can’t keep a strong woman down. She financed her trip to Crimea with her own money

            Mary was able to find a way to publish her memoir, “Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Mary Seacole in Many Lands.” Publishing evades many people. Yet Mary was able to overcome numerous obstacles and become one of the first women of color to publish a memoir in the UK. With the publication of her book and word-of-mouth praise, she became something of a celebrity. Some would even call her a legend. Yet today when her statue was finally erected on the same grounds as Florence Nightingale, the historic hoopla between Florence and Mary continued. Florence’s fans objected to Mary’s statue, saying that she wasn’t even a trained nurse nor was she a Black woman. Gossip about her paternity erupted. Naysayers do what they’ll always do. But we won’t let them rain on our parade of monumental women.  

            If you want more information about Mary Seacole, check out, “In Search of Mary Seacole, The Making of a Black Icon and Humanitarian” by Helen Rappaport. You can also visit her eight-foot statue, unveiled in 2016 in Lambeth, England at St. Thomas Hospital. The statue created by Martin Jennings is a stunning work of art. Slung over her shoulder is a medical bag. Mary is sculped in motion, the same way she lived her life. You’ll notice that the background of the statue is a stone wall. It reflects that way she was stonewalled throughout her life. But she’s not deterred, not one bit. Mary walks right past the stone wall, as if it doesn’t even exist.

            Strong and determined woman prevail. Let’s continue to bond together as women, as humanitarians, and erect more monuments that highlight the wonderful achievements of women along the historic timeline.

            Check out a YouTube: Mary Seacole statue unveiled.

 

Little Amal and Marie Curie

 

          When I started this blog I focused on statues of women who had been memorialized in bronze, marble, glass, silver, or any other long-lasting material. I concentrated my efforts on raising the awareness to the disparity between the number of men who’d been chiseled when compared with the amount of women. Not surprisingly men statues outnumbered women by more than an 8:1 ratio. But recently I came across two other ways women can be memorialized, at least temporarily, as in the case of Living Art or with a bit more longevity as seen with the use of animatronic or extreme puppetry.

 

ANIMATRONIC PUPPETRY

          One example of extreme puppetry is Little Amal. She’s a 12 ft. tall giant specimen (Think War Horse) that’s used in a performance art program called, “The Walk.” Amal, which means hope in Arabic, symbolizes a 10-year-old girl who travels alone across the world in hopes that she can be re-united with her mother. Amal is a mobile representation of immigration; asylum seekers, marginalized and displaced people, often as a result of genocide, poverty, war, and outright hatred. Mostly, Amal’s been met with warm embraces but since mankind is not always kind nor tolerant of differences, instances of outrage have erupted. Such a shame.

          I use Amal as an example of re-thinking bronze statues as the only way to highlight women. Certainly, a 12-foot puppet gets people talking. One advantage is she’s able to come to you. The disadvantage is that she’s homeless. She roves, moving from one temporary home to another. She recently spent three weeks in NYC and landed at the United Nations. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area when she visits, make every effort to see her. You won’t be disappointed. Her “people” are planning future events for 2022-23.

          Amal is eye-catching and has a look of sincerity that draws spectators to her. Visitors say they can “feel” her strife and spirit. Some say they’re compelled to touch her, hold her hand, walk with her, and tell her how brave she is. She inspires tears of resilience and hope. Statues can do all these things too but for some reason we back off from revealing our emotions to them.

          Maybe we shouldn’t. Next time you visit the statue of a woman of substance, put your arm around her and tell her how wonderful, wise and remarkable you think she is. I like to think she’s listening.

 

LIVING ART: HUMAN STATUES

          Examples of human statues can be found in cities or special events. But at first glance, you might walk right pass them, especially if you’re not paying close attention.  I saw Marie Curie in Edinburgh on the Royal Mile just outside Edinburgh Castle. From afar, she appeared to be a bronze statue and even as I got closer, she still appeared to be lifeless. But when a man put some money at her feet, she slightly altered her position. She stayed that way until another person offered money. But if nobody offered her cash, she stood absolutely still. I got close enough to see that her face, neck and hands were covered in professional theater makeup that allowed her to appear bronzed, with a light green patina. Her clothing was also of professional quality- a costume, dyed and stiffened to look like metal. Further down the road, we saw King Henry V111and then while in Stratford-Upon-Avon, we discovered Shakespeare, covered in what looked like white marble. For a pound, he’d perform a line of one of Shakespeare’s more famous plays and then when the line ended, he went back to his lifeless shape.

          These human statues boggled my mind. I wanted to know how someone could transform themself from a living, breathing human into a lifeless block of stone. I watched a You Tube video and saw a woman transform herself into a statue. Still, how could she suspend motion and stay so still for so long? How are the costumes made and what kind of make-up was used (google YouTube videos and you can find out for yourself). But this Living Art medium got me thinking. First question, the performance artist could’ve selected any famous woman to turn into a living word of art, what made her choose Mare Curie? Secondly, can you imagine using this art form for the greater good of the matriarchy?

          First question: Why did the performance artist pick Marie Currie?

          Was it because she already had a statue in Poland and that made it easier to copy? Or did she close Marie because she was awesome. That would be my reason. Face facts, Marie inhibited a great scientific mind, extreme bravery under potentially fatal conditions, and had keen intellect; the stuff legends are made of.

          Here are a few tidbits about Marie. She was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867 but left for Paris in 1934 to continue her scientific studies. She met Pierre, her Professor of Physics, and married him. They worked together, mostly in laboratories, where they handled radioactive materials, until his death in 1906. She then resumed his position at the Sorbonne.

          Marie participated in research that led to the discovery of radioactivity, radium and polonium. In 1903, she along with her husband and Henri Becquerel, received the Nobel Prize in Physics. She received the Nobel Prize again in 1911 (alone this time) for Chemistry. She died in 1934 of aplastic pernicious anemia, a condition often found with longtime exposure to radiation. Her achievement in radioactive materials led to cancer treatments that have saved millions of lives.

          “Nothing in life is to feared. It’s only to be understood.” Marie Curie

 

          Second question: Can you imagine using this art form for the greater good of the matriarchy?

          I can. Imagine all the exhibits and celebrations of women, alive and long-passed but still relevant, that could take place throughout the United States. As we speak there’s a campaign to create and erect a Women’s Suffragette Memorial on the National Mall. In the meantime, there could be a Living Art display of Susan B. Anthony, Madam C.J. Walker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Stanton Blatch, Ida Wells and Alice Paul adorning the mall. Can you imagine the human statues, in their bronze finest, giving speeches and bringing the memorable women to life. I can almost hear the wonderful conversations they could have with each other.  

          To steal and then paraphrase a line from Field of Dreams, “if you build it, she will come.” Yes, we need plenty more monuments of the matriarchy to dot the landscape with women of substance, but for the short term, we could fill in the gap with animatronic puppets or Living Art.

          “If you build it. She will come.”

           We’re women, we can make this happen.

 

 

It is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most change.”

          I had, just days before the Queen’s death, meandered along the Long Walk to Windsor Castle, strolled the Royal Mile from Edinburg Castle to Holyrood Palace and witnessed the lovely tribute to Princess Diana in Kensington Palace. I also had the pleasure of beholding the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London and the displeasure of being turned away from the gates of Westminster Abbey .

          Don’t even get me started on the hours I spent watching The Crown on Netflix or the book I read by Robert Hardman as I tried to absorb every tidbit of knowledge I could find on the Queen as part of my preparation for a trip to Great Britain. And because I did all these things, with gusto, I might add, I felt as if I had known the Queen.

          But can a Royal, and one as no-nonsense, straight-laced and closed-off as Queen Elizaeth11, ever be knowable?

          I like to think so. Maybe it was her husband, or sister, son or grandchild that knew her best. Could be, it was one of her many prime ministers who knew what made her tick. Perhaps it was one of the many journalists and reporters who spent a lifetime commenting on her every move that gave them the “real” scoop on the inner working of her mind.

          While we don’t know everything about Queen Elizabeth, we do know some things. We know she was crowned in Westminster Abbey at age 27 and reigned over the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 1952 to her death in 2022.

          We know she married Philip, Prince of Greece, in 1957, and from what we surmised, she loved him dearly. Together, they had four children, the eldest, of which, Charles, became King.

          We know she has numerous grandchildren, and while she loved them dearly, as grandmothers do, she didn’t appear to be consumed by them. We know some of her beloved grandchildren were cause for concern, but as the queen, she carried on, in spite of any kind of unpleasantries.

          We know she had a younger sister, Margaret, and like most sibling relationships, they had their ups and down, but at the end of the day, the love remained.

          We know she loved her Corgis. Oh, how she loved those dogs. We know she loved horses and everything equestrian. We know, even as a child, she had spunk, a call to duty, and a firm hand on the impossible.  

          We know she weathered many scandals, set-backs, and crises that would send many of us to our beds, hiding under the covers, while we waited for the dark days to pass. But we know that wasn’t her style.

          We know, she along with her royal family, owned at least thirty properties. We know Buckingham Palace was her headquarters, Windsor Castle was her country home, Balmoral her summer home, Sandringham Estate her holiday home, Holyrood Palace her Scotts home while Hillsborough was her Irish home.  

          We know she had numerous statues erected in her likeness. There’s one in Gravesend, Canterbury Cathedral, Windsor Great Park and one in the Governor’s House in Adelaide. We know a statue in her likeness was toppled in Canada after 1,000 bodies of dead indigenous children were unearthed. We know she was aware she wasn’t everyone’s “cup of tea” but that she strived to be fair and just to all she reigned over.

          We know she had to be “seen to be believed.”

          We know the country mourned her. We know her funeral, although extravagant beyond measure, touched the world’s heart.

          We know will not see a queen reign Great Britain in the foreseeable future.

          We know she died on Sept. 8th.  But I know it was on the same date my mother passed away, nine years before. Two queens. Mourned. Loved.

          We know she will rest in peace.

          We know more than we thought we knew, but not nearly as much as we’d would’ve liked.

          We know she will be remembered. We know her statues will continue to dot the landscape for years to come. Statues not only memorialize women of greatness but they make them immortal.

          Long live the Queen!

 

 

 

          Harriet, or Hattie as she was known to her friends, is now considered to be the first African America woman to publish a novel in North America. Her novel, The Nig or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black was published (anonymously) in September 1859 by a publishing firm in Boston, Massachusetts. Harriet was smart, copyrighting her novel and then depositing a copy in the Office of the Clerk (Mass.) But unfortunately her novel remained wildly unknown and sat, mostly undiscovered and unread, for over a hundred years.

            But as luck would have it, a scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discovered her work in 1982 in the copyright archives. Immediately, academic arguments ensued claiming that Hattie’s book was more autobiographical than fiction, ruling it out as a true novel. These naysayers believed that a book by Julia Collins, The Curse of the Caste/Slave Bride, published in 1865, was the first authentic novel because it was not rooted in truth as Harriet’s book had been. However, counter arguments claimed that most novels at the time, specifically first novels, were autobiographical in nature (see Little Women).

            Harriet was born of mixed heritage; with Irish and Black roots and lived with her parents until orphaned. At that time, she became an indentured servant (as was often the case with free Blacks and Irish immigrants) where she was likely physically and mentally abused. Yet Harriet persevered and found a way into the public lecture circuit where she was paid to talk about her experiences. She only wrote one book, but that was enough to elevate her to literary fame.

            The life-sized bronze statue of Harriet, erected in 2006, can be found on the New Hampshire Women’s Heritage Trail. Harriet is also considered to be one of the “27  Influential Women in New Hampshire.”

            As a writer, I’m glad to report that Harriet finally got her due as an author. I’m sorry she didn’t live to see it. I know how hard it is to get published, and I can’t imagine how difficult it was for Harriet to overcome an industry that was not only rooted in sexism but racism as well. Kudos to this ass-kicking woman who not only smashed the glass ceiling but plowed through the racism hurdle. On another note, my son is planning on moving to New Hampshire in the near future. When he does, my second stop will be to visit Harriet’s statue. I can’t wait to grab a selfie with another one of our wonderful monuments of the matriarchy.

            Readers, please continue to be on the lookout for other women that have been memorialized in stone, bronze, silver, wood, or glass. Together we can dot the landscape with amazing women who rock.

 

f

“Here lies Proof that Wit can never be Defense enough against Mortality.” (Epitaph)

            Born in England, Aphra is credited as being the first professional woman writer of the English language because she was the first of record to earn a living by writing; unheard of in those times. She is also considered to be the most influential dramatist of the late 17th century. Her plays, penned during the period of time knows as “The Restoration,” were considered scandalous because they mocked Puritan values and ideals. The naysayers of her work also tried to discredit her personal life by saying that she “practiced what she preached.”

            Ms. Behn caught my attention because at the end of August 2022, I will be visiting England, Scotland and Wales (finally, after numerous COVID cancellations) and have been on the lookout for statues of the matriarchy. Just my luck, the town of Stratford, England has four miniature statues of her on display. They’re located in the foyer of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Right now a contest is in place where viewers can select their favorite miniature which will later be sculpted into a life-sized statue that will be displayed in Canterbury where Aphra grew up. At long last!

            Best known for her literary innovation, especially the play Oronooko or Royal Slave, which is described as an early “novel” (novels as we know now didn’t exist then). Oronooko is based on her years in Surinam, a Dutch colony, where she became a critic of slavery (from the word slav) and colonialism. Her other works include; The Disappointment, The Rover, History of a Nun and Love Letters Between A Nobleman and His Sister.” All totaled, she wrote 19 plays and numerous other works, as well as volumes of poetry (some under the name “Astrea.”)

            Then there’s case of her being a spy (which wasn’t unheard of in those times: many a young woman in hard times was used to spy on men). She was said to have been widowed and when she found herself in debt, a known loyalist recruited her to serve as a “honeypot” and spy on a man in Antwerp.  Her code name was Astrea (named after the Greek goddess of innocence and virginity). It’s also speculated that she was employed by Charles 11 who paid her transportation back and forth to London.

            Working as a scribe in London, she later became a member of Grub Street publishing and thus began her career in playwrighting (There’s a movie to be made here, for sure). The concept of sequels can also be attributed to Aphra as most of her work was serialized.

            She died at the age of 48 and is buried in the Poet’s corner of Westminster Abbey. Yes, that’s correct. However, according to records after her death, her work was minimized and tossed aside. On her death, a poet friend warned: “Who will fill the Vacant Throne? Men cannot be left to regain the Power.”

            Unfortunately, men did resume the patriarchy and silenced her work.  Not much had been written about Aphra until 1929 when she was vetted by Virginia Woolf, who called her a feminist mother. This is her tribute quote:

            All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.

            Wow! Aphra Behn is impressive. A feminist, a playwright & poet, and a woman with a “No holds barred” philosophy. She deserves to have a statue carved in her likeness for all the world to admire, even if it is posthumously. While she is often studied in academia (mainly in Great Britain) many American women are unare of her greatness. I hope to snap a photo with her so I can add it to the blog. I admire the tenacity she showed as she continued to buck a system that wanted to squash her thoughts, ideas, and writings. There are days when I feel trampled upon and silenced, now I have a role model to turn towards. I will remember her strength as I trudge against adversity.

            One more statue to help dot the landscape with monuments of the matriarchy.

 

NEVER BE AFRAID TO ROCK THE BOAT (1920-2013)

A statue of Elaine Morgan,  a Welsh woman renowned in the fields of playwrighting, evolutionary anthropology and feminism, was recently unveiled in the south of Wales.  This unveiling caught my attention because I will soon be visiting England, Scotland and Wales at the end of August and was on the lookout for intriguing women who have been made immortal by way of bronze, stone or metal.  What’s interesting about this statue,  sculptured by Emma Rodgers, is that it contains a QR code that can be activated by a cell phone. that will take you on a tour of her life. Ms. Morgan is part of series of statues that will be erected in five different regions of Wales. The first statue was of Betty Campbell, a prominent black headteacher, that was erected in Cardiff. Three more statues are expected. 

Helen Molyneux, founder of Monumental Women Welsh Women, has this to say about Ms. Morgan: “Elaine has been called a campaigner of women’s equality but secretly I think she believed in women’s superiority. ” If you watch her Ted Talk, you’ll find out that she was a proponent of the controversial “aquatic ape evolutionary” theory. It blew my mind!

A graduate of Oxford, Elaine went on to have a career in screening and television. She is best known for the 1979 series “How Green Was My Valley.” In her controversial book, “The Descent of Women” she challenged the accepted theories of human evolution citing that females are just as vital as men in the evolution of mankind.

Please, take a moment to find her Ted Talk online. She is passionate, humorous and  nothing like the ‘fringe lunatic” some academics want to pigeon-hole her into.  I’ve never met Ms. Morgan but from what I’ve learned about her. the statue is not only a great likeness but it captures her in mid-thought; pen to mouth, covered in papers, as she searches for answers to the big questions. 

I was quite pleased to watch her unveiling on YouTube. It was so nice to watch her grown sons publicly partake in honoring their mother. I only hope one day my sons can be as proud of me as they were of her. I also want to give Wales a big shout out.  Not only have they stepped up to the idea of dotting the world with monuments of the matriarchy, they’ve done so by honoring a woman that “didn’t  go quietly into that dark night. She raged”. Elaine Morgan wasn’t afraid to rock the boat or go against the grain. How many of us can say the same thing?

 

         

            Located in the National Mall in Washington, DC is a 2,000 lb. bronze statue that honors women who provided a host of patriotic services during the Vietnam War. The statue, created by artist and sculptor Glenna Goodacre and erected in 1993, depicts three women, two of whom are providing direct care to an ailing soldier while the third woman kneels. The monument is circular and provides a three-dimensional view. Eight tress surround the sculpture and they represent the eight servicewomen who lost the lives in the war. It’s the first time America has honored women for their patriotic services in such a tangible manner.

            If you’ve been to DC, you can find a few other statues of women, such as Crouching Woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, Battlefield Civil War Nurses, Eleanor Roosevelt and the new If/Then STEM statues, to name few. But none of them have brought more emotional outpouring than the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Women served many roles during the Vietnam War era, not just as nurses or servicewoman but also as doctors, air traffic controllers, intelligence officers, journalists, librarians, lawyers, among others. The statue has become a catalyst for discussion. Visitors have embraced the “kneeling woman” as the voice of the everywoman; the one who sat by watching and waiting. Her look of despair haunts viewers. She’s epitomizes the helplessness everyone felt about the war. Many visitors say they feel gratitude when they see the statue.  “I didn’t know I needed this” is a frequent utterance.

            If you want to learn more about the role of women nurses, read, “Home Before Morning; The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam” by Lynda Van Devanter. There are a few informative videos on YouTube (Why the Vietnam Women’s Memorial is Meaningful”; Vietnam Women’s Memorial  Lest We Forget”).

            This beautiful memorial comforts many people.  But folks, its 22 years old. Surely women have done magnificent things since then. Where is their statue? I don’t know how many times I can say this, we need to dot the landscape with monuments of the matriarchy. Women are the backbone of humanity; the cornerstone of democracy; the motherload of society. Make a place for us among all the marbleized men.

            On one of the videos a nurse is quoted as saying, “I felt like I was the only woman in a sea of men.” If our statues could talk they’d say the same thing. Women statues are still few between the many. Centuries from now, what will they think of us? I don’t want future women to think that females left a limited mark on the world. We know that’s not true. It can’t be our legacy. It just can’t.

Voices From the Garden

            Seven statues of women who’ve shaped the Commonwealth of Virginia have been unveiled in October 2109 in Capital Square, Richmond, VA. There are also names of 230 other women of influence etched along the walls of the exhibit. Five more statues are in the works.

            This has been an on-going project that focused on collectively recognizing the voices of women who’ve not been given their due in mainstream America. These women, from the past 400 years, have been for the most part, overlooked. While many have been given a line or two in a few history books, it’s not enough. We need to amplify their voice. From all walks of life these are extraordinary women who’ve risen above stereotypes, prejudices, injustice, poverty, race and sexual discrimination, adversity and apathy to break barriers and smash glass ceilings. Their accomplishments are numerous, vast and impressive.

        The women exhibited haven’t been placed on a pedestal, riding a horse, or carrying a weapon; this way visitors can look them in the eye. Take a good look. These are the women whose shoulders we’ve been standing on for four hundred years. Listen to their narratives. It’s time to bring real women to the table. And what an amazing table it is.

            The Seven:

  1. Ann Burras Laydon (1595-?). Jamestown colonist. Records indicate she left England as an unmarried woman and arrived in Jamestown in 1608. She soon married and bore four daughters. Her oldest daughter was the first recoded child to be born of English parents. Ann was a homesteader and early member of what is now considered to be the first American settlement. She survived an Indian attack, when survival rates were low.
  2. Cockacoeske (1656-1686): Pamunkey Chieftain. Cocoacoeske was a Native American woman who was called “Queen” by the settlers when her husband died. She’s best known for signing the Articles of Peace, also referred to as the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677. She maintained a diplomatic relationship with other tribes, a feat which was difficult for most other tribal leaders to accomplish.
  3. Mary Draper Ingles (1732-1815): Frontierswoman. Mary was another early settler, who after surviving a capture by the Shawnee, escaped, and then found safe passage 600 miles home She went on to create Ingles Ferry with her husband. Mary was the subject of books, plays and movies (see the “Long Way Home” and “The Captives: Follow the River”).
  4. Elizabeth Keckley (1818-1907): Seamstress. Elizabeth was born a free black woman to parents who had once been enslaved. She was a seamstress as well as an author. In 1868 she wrote, “Behind the Scenes or 30 Years a Slave” also known as “From Slavery to the White House.” You see, Elizabeth became Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker and confidant. Her memoir was considered scandalous at that time.  
  5. Laura Copenhaver (1868-1949). Textile entrepreneur. The daughter of a minister and the wife of a school administrator, Laura found her niche in writing, civic work and cooperative marketing. She started a business in her house where woman made hand-made blankets. Soon the demand for her product was so high she had to move into a factory. Rosemont, a textile industry, was then born, which is still in operation today (mainly bed linens).
  6. Virginia Randolph (1874-1958): Educator. Virginia was an African American woman who was born to previously enslaved parents in Richmond, VA. She was considered to be a pioneer in the area of industrial arts. Virginia believed that students learned better by doing. She taught classes like woodworking, sewing, gardening, and home design. She was the recipient of an award that allowed black rural schools to include the manual arts in their curriculum.
  7. Adele Clark (1882-1983): Suffragette. Adele was a founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia as well as an artist and art advocate. She fought to have the Nineteenth Amendment ratified, which didn’t happen in Virginia until 1957. Nonetheless, she worked tirelessly for women’s rights until the day she died. As an artist, her work has graced showrooms and private residences. Her lovely painting, “Sledding” reminds me of the lithographs found in the Currie & Ives printmakers book, one of childhood favorites.

 

Collectively, these women rock. I applaud the state of Virginia for stepping up to the plate and creating such a visual display of the accomplishments of women. Day by day, year in and year out, across decades, and centuries, these women worked to make their community a better place to live, often without notice or reward.  In doing so, they made the state fuller and richer. The country benefited too. They are true monuments of the matriarchy. But these woman are no different than most of us reading this site. Just like the statues, we come from all walks of life and bring a different set of skill sets. But if we put our collective heads together, we can build a better world. One statue at a time.

 

PRINCESS ALICE of BATTENBERG (1885-1969)

              (otherwise known as the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh)

 

            If you’re a fan of “The Crown” now steaming on Netflix, perhaps you, along with countless others, have fallen in love with Princess Alice during a heartwarming viewing of Episode 4. If not, I’ll enlighten you as to why Princess Alice, also the mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth 11 and great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, is worthy of being included in our monuments of the matriarchy. Just to be clear, I’m not recognizing her for her royal ancestry but because she is a woman of substance, in her own right.

            Misunderstood for most of her life, Alice was born congenitally deaf. Since nobody figured it out for years, she had to teach herself to lip read. As a speech-language pathologist, I can’t stress how important hearing is in the development of language and the impact it has on functional communication. Members of the Royal Family thought she was intellectually-impaired because when measured against people with intact hearing, she fell short. She is often considered to be a blot on the Royal Family.

            Even so, they still married her off to Prince Andrew, son of the King of Greece. She lived in Greece for years while she gave birth to four daughters and finally, a son. But in 1922, the Greco-Turkish caused her to flee to safely. A few years later, she was diagnosed as having a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized. She became a patient of Sigmund Freud who claimed she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia as well as other patriarchal ailments I won’t discuss here.

            She was finally released from institutionalized living in the 1930’s and went back to Greece where she lived a life of charity. Here’s when her life takes a different turn. During WW11 she harbored Greek Jews and kept them safe from capture. It’s reported that she pretended not to “hear” the authorities when they questioned her. They soon grew tired of interrogating her and left, never to return again. In the 1940’s she founded St. Mary Magdalene; a Greek Orthodox sisterhood for nuns who served the needy. Pictures of Princess Alice at the wedding of Philip and Elizabeth show her in a nun’s habit, which only fueled the rumor of her insanity. In 1966, she returned to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, her birthplace, to live out her final years. She became close to Princess Anne. Fans of the Royal Family like to think Prince Philip finally embraced his benevolent mother.

            I looked high and wide for a statue of this ahead-of-her-time woman but couldn’t find one. I did, however, find her tomb in Jerusalem. She wanted to be buried next to a beloved aunt. I also found a tree planted in her honor at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. In 1993, she was deemed Princess Alice Righteous Among Nations on behalf of her work during the holocaust. In 2010, the British government called her a “Hero of the Holocaust.”

            Still no statue. I wonder what it will take to commission a statue for a woman considered to be the “rarest creature among the whole Royal Family who suffered more and did better than the whole royal family put together.”

            Rally up. Start a campaign. Let’s put Alice of Battenberg on a pedestal. The world needs her to be memorialized in stone for all eternity. She demonstrated a “turn the other cheek” lifestyle that is rare and beautiful. If that isn’t worthy of bronze, I don’t know what is.

                                                                                               

                                      ” I ask no favor for myself. All I ask our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

 

            A seven-foot statue of Ruth Bade Ginsburg – a woman of such significance that she’s known by her initials, along with word notorious—has been unveiled in City Point, NY on March, 2021. Located inside the Flatbush entrance in Brooklyn, the statue was created by husband-and-wife sculptors Gille and Marc Schattner. Notorious RBG can be found along with ten other statues of inspirational women such as Oprah Winfrey, Jane Goodall and Gabby Douglass, in the “Statues of Equality” exhibit. The exhibit raises the percentage of women statues in New York from three to ten percent. Yes, ladies we’re finally making some headway in our effort to reach our mission of dotting the patriarchal landscape with more monuments of the matriarchy.

            The statue had been unveiled during Women’s History month as a memorial to her posthumous 88th birthday. I’ve already noted RBG once in this blog when I commented on a jabot or ornamental collar that had placed on the statue of Fearless Girl upon Ruth’s death. Ruth often wore collars to add meaning to her dress (some were majority collars, other dissenting collars).

           And Fearless, she was, along with being the “great dissenter” or “great equalizer.” RBG argued many judicial battles in the pursuit of racial and gender equality. While Ruth rarely used the term women’s right, she did say she fought for the “constitutional principles of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.” One of my favorites quotes from her was, “Women will have achieved true equality when men and women share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” I’ve personally observed this to be much more the norm than it was during my childrearing years. My son is an equal co-parent with his wife. Something his father wasn’t. I’d like to take credit but I think it’s generational and/or societal  progress. I credit women like RBG, and men like her husband.

          I  haven’t visited Ruth’s statue yet but now that COVID incidences are declining, I see the possibility of travel in my life once again. I can’t wait to touch a piece of her greatness. RBG’s statue will shine bright, a beautiful reminder of the wondrous contributions she made to the field of gender equality.

       Who will fight the good fight now that she’s gone? I hope it will be all of you. Join me. Everyone.     

 

 

                                           I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” A. Frank

 

            Anne Frank’s diary is a world treasure. Despite being only thirteen-years old when she took pen to paper, her words resonate with people of all ages, in all parts of the universe. She deserves to be memorialized in stone and placed on a pedestal. While she’s honored in many historic landmarks, this blog will focus on two of the more popular.

            Erected in Founder’s Park Plaza at the National WW11 Museum in New Orleans sits a life-sized statue of Anne. Sculpted by Studio EIS, Anne is depicted holding her diary to her chest with both hands. A direct quote from her diary is nearby, “Someday this terrible way will be over. Surely the time will come when we are people again, and not just Jews.”

            Imagine being in Anne’s shoes. She was a girl, on the brink of adolescence, when  suddenly she’s forced to hide in two small rooms, hidden behind a bookcase, and shut off from the life she once knew. No television, no communication with the outside world, no music. Just a few books and a measly stack of paper and pencils, and the cramped company of seven other people, some of whom she didn’t get along with, even in the best of times. But Anne had hutzpah and made the most of it -by looking out onto a horse-chestnut tree – and by starting a diary, which she called a “strange experience.” She wrote even though she was sure “no one will ever be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old-girl.” But that didn’t stop her moxie from pouring out onto the page. “Oh, well. It doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.” I’m glad she felt propelled to write in a diary. Otherwise we never would’ve known about this brave girl. Bravery gets noticed. In Anne’s case, her strength of character was memorialized in bronze, which allowed her to take her place among the other impressive monuments of the matriarchy.  

            Still, being the face of humanity has its downsides. A monument of Anne known as the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, that resides at the Wassmuth Rights Center, was defaced in Dec. 2020 with swastikas and the harrowing words “We are everywhere.” Also tarnished was the freedom spiral.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time the complex was branded with graffiti of Anti-Semitic messages and racial slurs. A question asked by the media was, “Is this what we’re becoming?”

            When Anne was alive she’d seen more trouble than most of us. Did she need to be victimized, even in death? After her capture by the Gestapo, she spent twenty months in captivity, only to be turned into the authorities by an anonymous informant, who is said to have been an employee of her father’s. Sadly, Anne didn’t last long at Auschwitz. She died of starvation and dehydration, weeks before the concentration camp was liberated. Her diary was found in the annex by a family friend. I’m not sure if you know this but the authenticity of the diary was questioned. Surely, the naysayers speculated, an older, more erudite person wrote it. I, for one, believe it’s the real deal. When faced with death, I bet our pens are freed from the confines of the page and we speak the truth. Verse after verse is wrangled free and without a censor and judge, the words touch detach themselves from the core our souls. As Anne said, “I continue to sit with the open book in my hand and wonder why I was filled with so much anger and hate that I had to confide it all to you.”

            But Anne lives on, in her journals and statues How will you live on? Have you accomplished anything that is statue worthy? I know I haven’t, at least not yet. But I’m not going to give up on myself.         

         Rise up ladies. Do something great. Be heard. Write your hearts out. The world needs more women of courage. I imagine a future where there are millions of brave women dotting our landscape. Now that’s a beautiful sight.

 

“                         

I was a conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say- I never ran my train off the tracks ad never lost a passenger.”

 

People are asking me how I pick the statue I write about. I reply by saying, “the statue usually picks me.” Most of the time I’m going about my business when- there she is- my next chiseled woman. Often I find her when I’m researching another project, reading a book or magazine, watching TV or a movie, listening to a podcast or talking to friend when I stumble upon an amazing woman that needs to be recognized. Let’s just say Harriet loomed large and I couldn’t ignore her.

She is one of the few females in history whose presence can now be felt everywhere. She’s embedded in the fibers of our history, and if you listen you can hear her shouting, “slavery is the next thing to hell.” I have a feeling that people are listening. Statues of Harriet Tubman are cropping up; they can be found stretched west through Indiana, Iowa and Michigan; north through Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, New England an even into Canada; and south to North and South Carolina and into Arkansas. A preliminary search for Harriet Tubman statues found nine, but everyday another state is making a pedestals for her as we speak. As they should be.

North Carolina, the state in which I now reside, has two statues that I know of. One is a bronze statue in Sylva, which replaced Sylva Sam, a white, southern member of the confederacy.  Replacing white males with women, and especially women of color, seems to be a national trend that is finally catching on. There’s another statue in Halifax, known as “Journey to Freedom,” which is part of a museum collection. The bronzed statue was commissioned privately and was created by sculptor W. Wofford.

My home state of New York has a few statues of Ms. Tubman. One can be found in Harlem. “Swing Low,” a larger-than-life statue, designed by Alison Saar, has found a home in Manhattan. Ms. Saar depicts the abolitionist, conductor, spy, scout, nurse, guerilla soldier as the formidable giant she was.

Harriet, code name Moses, was an incredible woman. Illiterate her whole life she led approximately 70 enslaved men to freedom. But her endeavors didn’t stop there. She went on to fight for women’s rights, cure dysentery using her knowledge of herbal medicine, lead a combat assault and serves as a miliary scout.

Some say she was unstoppable. A born leader who never gave up, Harriet lived to the ripe old age of 91. She’s a role model for anyone who thinks that one person can’t make a difference. We need more women like Harriet. But we also need more of Harriet, bronzed and proud. When you look into her eyes, you know you’re looking at a woman of greatness.

One statue changes the landscape. Thousands of statues change the world”

     

        For all of the other previous statues, I have discussed each statue individually. But the If/Then Exhibit is a collection of women that have been memorialized – not in stone, bronze, steel, wood, or glass but in acrylic gel. Instead of being sculpted, carved or etched, these statues are made in a 3D printer.

          If/Then is the brainchild of Lyda Hill Philanthropies as a way to encourage young girls into careers on a STEM path (science, technology, engineering and Math). And what better way to showcase STEM than through the use of a 3D printer capable of full-body scanning that creates life-size models of living, breathing and working women? Currently there are over 120 women displayed in North Park in Dallas, Texas. It’s the largest exhibit of its kind.

          This is exciting, to say the least. The interactive exhibit features a scavenger hunt and biographic history of all 120 women. If/ Then was created to develop a culture where women in STEM could become household names. The exhibit is a wonderful way for women to share stories, inspire the next generation of working women and change the course of history. Sad to say, its still a male-dominated profession. The current STEM workforce is only 30% female.

          Why? Good question. There are many theories; teachers and parents don’t reward girls for good grades in math and science; math and science were male-dominated worlds and girls weren’t encouraged to break the status quo. IF/Then works on the premise that there have been a lack of role models and a limited notion of mentorships. The new model is, “If She Can See It, Then She Can Be It.” Halleluiah!

          The exhibit was delayed due to COVID but it is open and ready for visitors. There’s a good chance you might find a similar exhibit popping up in your city. On a personal note, I’ve always loved science but found math cumbersome. The only one who ever encouraged me was my mother, even though I often out-scored the boys on tests and beat them in just about every award category. I was often told, “Why bother? You’ll just get married and have babies?”  Why didn’t anyone (include myself) ever assume I could do both? I compromised by studying speech-language pathology in graduate school, which I grew to love. The field is rooted in science and education but our arms reach into technology, especially in the field of assistive communication devices;  math as we analyze and graph multiple data points; and engineering when we create speech tools. How does your profession measure up to STEM?

          I hope young girls reading this join the STEM world and become household names. But for now, check out the If/Then website and learn the names of all 120 brilliant women and follow their amazing careers.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

 

            Located at Riverside Park in New York City on seventy-second street sits a monument honoring the former first lady and renowned humanitarian. The sculptor was created by Penelope Jencks and erected in 1996 and presided over by Hillary Rodman Clinton. The striking monument depicts Eleanor standing, legs crossed at the ankles, hands perched to her chain, as if in deep thought.    

            I’ve always considered Eleanor to be the more unattractive partner to her more dashing cousin and husband. But since Franklin lost use of his legs, Eleanor attended to the business at-hand as though she were born for the job of political attaché. Not only was she good at her job, she excelled.

            Recently I was given a writing prompt for a children’s book writing website and we were given the task of coming up with a 250-word story. The prompt was none other than the quote above for which Eleanor has often been credited. However, I couldn’t find anywhere that she actually said those exact words (also noted on quote investigators). There is a lesser quote from her syndicated newspaper column from 1957 where she said something about the dreams of those who drafted the US Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

            But Eleanor had more to say. Lots more. On many topics. And people began to listen.

                                                       

 

 

 

   

                                                BARBARA JORDAN  (1936-1996)

                                          “We are a people in search of our future.”

 

          A friend of mine was traveling back from California when her flight was diverted to Austen, Tx. Understandably, she was not happy. But when she was greeted by a bronze statue of Barbara Jordon, the first woman to deliver the keynote address at a national convention (Democratic, 1972) she knew a higher power must’ve orchestrated the layover. As a crusader of women’s rights, especially for IPOC, my  friend right then and there pulled out her phone and listened to two of Barbara’s landmark speeches. First, to the speech given to the democratic convention, and then to her now famous testimony in front of the US House Judiciary Committee on the impeachment articles of the constitution regarding Richard Nixon and the Watergate breech. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll  know that while I’ve written about twenty or more statues of the matriarchy, I’ve never once begged you to listen to them so you could hear their voice. Please! Forty-seven years later her speech about impeachment made my friend cry in the middle of a busy airport. It also brought tears to my eyes, as it will yours.

          Barbara is one of the most accomplished women in modern history. She’s the first African American to serve in the Texas Senate after the Reconstruction; the first African American elected to the US Congress from the south; and the first African American to serve as governor of Texas ( if only ceremonial, for one day). She was a civil rights champion, a proponent of immigration reform, a college professor and a commanding presence, bar none. Barbara captured me (and zillions of others) with her powerful voice, great oratorial skills, and her uncanny ability to break down complex moral, civil, and legal issues into language everyone can understand. Please (for all that is sacred to you, listen to her speak). Remember, we are stingy when it comes to creating statues of women, so men in power must also be singing her praise.

        The statues in the airport was sculpted by Bruce Wolfe and it suits her well. She is seated, fingers pressed together as though in deep thought, with a book on and a pair of glasses on her lap. I’d call her a female Barrack Obama, but comparing this exemplary woman to a man –no matter how however wonderful the man may be – demeans her. She is, in my opinion, one of the greatest women of the 20th century. There should be many more chiseled likenesses of her throughout the country. You can find another statue at the University of Texas at Austen where she taught. But perhaps you could start a campaign to raise funds to bring her to your city. Your mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, niece, and friend will thank you. 

        Statues of women dot the landscape with history, female achievement, and humanity. But they’re also our future. They inspire us to greatness. 

 

 

 

     

      ” There is something healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after  winter.”

         In 2010, Time Magazine named Rachel Carson—biologist, conservationist, author— “one of the most powerful women in the world, in the past century.” I like to think of her as the “Mother of environmentalism.” Famous for her work on the dangers of pesticide use, she is the author of “Silent Spring,” one of the most influential books on ecological disasters.

            A bronze statue by sculptor David Lewis was installed in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in July, 2013. The life-sized statue reminds us to take better care of the natural world. For her work, which paves the way for tighter control of poisonous sprays, environmental toxins, and chemical spills, she was posthumously awarded the President Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

            Closer to my home, you’ll find another smaller statue in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC. It’s located in the Rachel Carson Wildlife Gardens. Ms. Carson was employed by the US Dept. of Fisheries, and lived in NC, where she studied diverse habitats. NC likes to claim her as one their our own.

            Of note, Beaufort, NC,  is home to the Rachel Carson Reserve. Accessible by boat or ferry, you’ll find different environments cohabitating – tidal flats, salt marshes, sand dunes, ocean beaches, maritime forests and 30 wild horses. I had the pleasure of visiting the reserve where I imagined Rachel taking observation notes, toiling in the muck, and basking in the beauty of the unspoiled nature.

            Rachel passed away at the age of 56 from cancer. She had just completed her insightful masterpiece, “Silent Spring.” If you’ve never read it, please do. It will make you think twice before dumping something in the ocean, throwing trash out the car window or holding onto the concept that “global warming” is a trope.

              She was truly an amazing woman,. She deserves to be memorialized in stone, etched in bronze and remembered for her achievements. I wish there were more of her – in stone and in life. 

  

 

  

           On June 19, 2021 my son got married at the Glenora Winery in the finger lake region. In case you’re not familiar with the area, not only is it ripe with award-winning wine, lovely wedding venues and gorgeous crystal-clear lakes, it’s also steeped in abolition history and accounts of the suffragette movement.

            Located in Seneca Falls, NY (halfway between Rochester and Syracuse) on the banks of the Seneca River stands a statue of three women, knowns as major forces in the fight for securing the right to vote for women. As the story goes, on May 12, 1851 (three years after the 1848 historical convention, reported to be the birthplace of the suffragette movement), Amelia Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony, a teacher and temperance advocate, to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a homemaker and a supporter of women’s rights. And the rest, they say, is history.

            When you look at the bronze statue, you notice Amelia Bloomer as the one with the short dress. Underneath she’s sporting “bloomers” which later became the attire for the movement. The statue, commissioned for the 150th anniversary of the 1848 convention, was sculpted by Ted Aub who depicted the easy relationship between Stanton and Anthony. Upon meeting, the two women quickly developed into a workable team, with Elizabeth doing most of the speech writing while Anthony watched Stanton’s children. Anthony then travelled across the country delivering the speeches in pursuit of equality between race and gender.

            Stanton and Anthony were both influential women in their own right. Unfortunately, neither of these women lived to see the 19th Amendment ratified.  The 19th Amendment, which gave all women the right to vote, became known as “The Susan B. Anthony Amendment.” Nearby is the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house as well as the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

            Keep your eyes open. Monuments of the matriarchy can be found everywhere. Not as many we I’d like, but if you look, they can be found in unexpected places. A trip to a wedding also morphed into a timeless adventure down the path of women’s rights. I was so in awe of the statue, I forgot to snap a picture of me with the trio. Don’t make the same mistake.

 

 

                     

“Me? I am happy because my heart is the base of your heart. I do not belong to people who are grimly staring into their own cloud and turn it in such a way, that I can only see its brighter parts.” Alma Karlin (in Isolanthis)

 

            I came cross this bronze statue of Alma Karlin, one of the greatest female travelers of all times, while watching an HGTV International episode about Slovenia. Alma makes an impressive statue and an even more compelling character. I took notice. I hope you will too.

            Born in 1889, Alma traveled the world alone. Between 1919 to 1927, she explored the Americas, the Far East, Australia, Hong Kong, and Fiji. Although she wrote about her exploits in German (see “Odyssey of a Lonely Woman”), she learned nine other languages during her travel escapades. People who knew her considered her to be a free-spirit who roamed the world crossing boundaries, literally and figuratively. When I think of Alma, a petite woman with big ideas, I envision a woman with a mind of her own. Although called quirky, she was a nomad of geographical vastness; a researcher who explored the depths of the human soul. While traversing the globe, she collected a wealth of ethnological materials, some of which can be found in the permanent collection in the Celije Regional Museum.

            The statue, erected in 2009, was unveiled in 2010 in memory of the 60th anniversary of her death, and 120 years after her birth. Alma’s life-sized statue is sculpted wearing a hat and coat, and carrying a huge suitcase, all of which represent her on-the-go personality. It is said that the sidewalk, on which the statue sits, is moving. She has a no-nonsense look on her face. Her arm appears in such a position that at any minute she might lift it to hail a taxi.

            How nice it must be to be revered as a traveler; a globetrotting woman who smashed conventional roles. She is truly a woman who should be memorialized in stone, for all eternity to remember. Rock on Alma!

 

             There are some statues that are quietly erected and arise few enthusiasts and naysayers. Then there are others that spawn protests, spark heated discussions and create ruckus. The latter is the case with a life-sized statue created by Swedish artist Susanna Arwin in 2015.

          The statue, “The Old Woman with the Handbag,” was inspired by a famous 1985 photograph taken in Växjö, Swede by photojournalist Hans Runisson. The photo depicted a 38-year-old woman hitting a marching neo-Nazi with her pocketbook. Years later, when the artist chiseled the statue, he aged her into an older woman depicting her against a younger, more volatile male.

          According to Henri Cartier-Brown, the photo captured a “decisive moment of an action” that could explicably deteriorate rapidly without effort. The photograph won the Swedish Picture of the Year in 1985 and was also voted Picture of the Century  by VI magazine. But in 2015, the statue unleashed revolts, many of which led protesters to send a message by hanging handbags on other statues. The protests resulted in the statue being moved a few times until it found its current resting place in the garden of Lasse Didings Waring in Växjö, Sweden. Another statue is planned to be unveiled in Alingas in the near future.

          Why the change of heart? Some people believed the statue promoted violence; even if the woman in the statue was described as elderly, it didn’t give her the righto use force against another person. But counter-protests said the statue was a representation of the weak rising up again oppression, inhumanity and bullying.

          I haven’t personally visited the statue, but a friend shared it with me when she was on a river cruise. I find the statue feisty, a visual representation of the ability of women to carry a heavy load while going about their everyday business.

          On a personal note, my mother always said that my pocketbook was always too cumbersome, like I was trying to fit all my worldly possessions in a rucksack. Good thing I didn’t listen to her and lighten my load because, if provoked, I could yield a strong defense.

          I can’t wait to snap my picture with this amazing statue one day. As always, I’m on the side of chiseled woman who rock. Whose side are you on?

         

 

           Calling all children: Philly has a new bronze statue. Standing 5 ft. 4 inches tall and modeled in the image of an African American middle school girl, the statue erected on July 31, 2019 has been dubbed MVP. She has a fierce competitive look on her face, which to me is similar to the look on the face of Fearless Girl in New York City. Although the statue was inspired by Ora Washington (1898-1971), a local athlete, she represents strength and heroism of all children who face adversity.

          The statue, which stands on a cement circle, elevated off the ground, can be found at the Smith Playground and Recreation Center in Philadelphia. What sets the statue apart from the 1,500 other statues in Philly is that she’s the first woman. When the sculptor Brian McCiutcheon won the competition to erect a statue funded by the Philadelphia Percent for Art Program (whenever the city spends over a million dollars on  renovations it must earmark money for public art) he decided to fashion the sculpture so it represented the people who use the park, often populated by local kids engaging in athletic endeavors.

          The statue is beautiful; she’s holding a basketball off to one side while caught in the middle of the game where she’s in the process of intense decision-making. Will she make a pass or take a shot? While MVP is portrayed as one lone player, our minds fill in the blanks. We see a team on the court, eagerly awaiting her next move. But we also see her guarding unseen opponents (just like in real life).

          What else can we see in her future? As one young girl of color says, “She looks like me.” And that one statement has the potential to inspire a nation to greatness. “If she can do it, so can I.” I haven’t see the sculpture. It was referred to me by a former colleague who lived in the area, but I hope to visit her one day with my grandkids. I want them to see firsthand that all it takes to get “chiseled” is some grit, teamwork, and the ability to make the next move even when it’s not visible to others.

          One more statue to help dot the landscape with monuments of women. Bronze power! Women Rock!