Give Us the Vote 2020

Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, this project features the works of 29 living artists, and explores, celebrates, and considers the
complexity of voting in America. 

The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings (Plate No. 155) (21st Century) by Johanna GoodmanArtsWestchester

The Women Who Marched

What is the history of voting rights in the US? It's a complex story of citizenship, access, and action.  The American Suffrage movement was born in New York State, when in July of 1848, nearly three hundred men and women gathered at what has become known as the Seneca Falls Convention. The road from Seneca Falls to the 19th Amendment was long and bumpy. On November 6, 1917, New York became the first eastern state to fully enfranchise women. Three years later, on August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified and American women secured their victory for voting rights. 

Redress Redress (21st Century) by Laurel Garcia ColvinArtsWestchester

Learn a little more about the elements of "Redress" from the exhibition Curator.

Suffragette (21st Century) by Susan SaasArtsWestchester

In the U.S., women who fought for voting rights were referred to as suffragists rather than the British term of suffragettes. Americans viewed “suffragette” as too diminutive.

The Golden Lane The Golden Lane (2017) by Natalie BaxterArtsWestchester

What was the Golden Lane?

This installation pays tribute to the "Golden Lane," a powerful protest that put women's suffrage on the Democratic party's national platform. At the 1916 Democratic National Convention in St. Louis more than 2,000 women, dressed in white with gold sashes and carrying gold umbrellas stood shoulder to shoulder in silence along Locust Street.

Election Cake (2017) by Nicole Bricker and 2017ArtsWestchester

Even before winning the right to vote, women were active participants in the American democratic process. Here, two contemporary women of ambiguous race share a slice of cake, specifically Election Cake – a tasty tool 18th century women employed to get men to the polls.

Encapsulated Vote (21st Century) by Enne TesseArtsWestchester

Hear from the artist about her process

Inspired by the suffragette handcrafted cloth banners, this work features the word VOTE inked on small cut pieces of fabric inserted into gel caps and stored in a glass jar.

Suffrage is not Representation (21st Century) by Maria SinatraArtsWestchester

Not an End, but a Beginning

The passage of the 19th Amendment was not the end of the battle for voting rights. Native Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans remained disenfranchised, requiring the passage of federal laws to ensure their full recognition as citizens. Still, voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and other techniques limit whose voice can be heard on Election Day. 

AM Radio (21st Century) by Lauren EngelArtsWestchester

The right to vote is a right of citizenship. Even though the 15th Amendment, passed in 1870, granted all U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, Native Americans were denied the right to vote until 1924 with the passage of the Snyder Act. The bill admitted Native Americans born in the U.S. to full U.S. citizenship, but it would take another forty years for all 50 states to allow Native Americans to vote. Federal policy prevented immigrants of Asian descent from becoming citizens until 1952.

Voting Booth for Fannie Lou Hamer (2017) by Carla Rae JohnsonArtsWestchester

It is a quote from Fannie Lou Hamer that inspires this voting booth. When asked if she was afraid she might die while working for the cause, Fannie Lou stated that she was “…fully prepared to fall five-feet, four-inches forward in the fight for freedom.” On August 24, 1964, Hamer, a sharecropper and Civil Rights leader from Mississippi, testified before the Credentials Committee about her attempt to register to vote in Mississippi. Hear about the impact of her powerful testimony.

Twenty-Sixteen to Twenty-Twenty (21st Century) by Billy KornbluthArtsWestchester

The Voting Rights Act was a piece of landmark legislation, passed by the Johnson administration in 1965 to uphold the Fifteenth Amendment. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the VRA, removing a critical tool to combat racial discrimination at the polls. This opened the door for states to implement stringent voter ID requirements, among other measures, to limit who has access to the ballot box. As a result, the 2016 presidential election was considered the hardest election to vote in since the Jim Crow era.

Hank. (21st Century) by Yashua KlosArtsWestchester

Hear from artist Yashua Klos about the work and some of the meaning behind the pose.

Yashua Klos’ monumental woodblock print portrait of a black man standing for the pledge of allegiance, with a closed fist over his heart explores the deep relationship between protest and patriotism. The artist says: "Coming-of-voting-age, as a young black man, I recall the older generation insisting that their fight for voting rights be honored through our act of voting… All Americans have the right to vote, or not, and pledge allegiance to our symbols of democracy by singing the National Anthem, or not.”

Benisek v. Lamone (2017) by Ann LewisArtsWestchester

What is "gerrymandering?"

Lamone v. Benisek was a case before the Supreme Court that addressed partisan gerrymandering in the state of Maryland. The 6th District had historically favored Republicans but were redrawn in 2011 to shift the political majority to Democrats by diluting voting blocks. Both major parties have taken advantage of redistricting to shift power in their favor.

NYC Women's March (21st Century) by Christine Sloan StoddardArtsWestchester

Hear from the artist. Why did this poster catch her eye at the Women's March?

You May No Longer Be Registered To Vote (1) (21st Century) by Gina RandazzoArtsWestchester

How We Vote

By mail or in person? Absentee or early? Artists in this section explore the voting booth and ballot as symbols of power.

Choices (21st Century) by Michele PredArtsWestchester

What is a "Votomatic" machine and how has artist Michele Pred used one in her sculpture?

En route to the 19th Amendment, the suffragists helped write new laws that protected the rights of women, including laws that gave married women title to their own earnings. Michele Pred's voting booth symbolizes the underlying choices a woman makes every time she supports a candidate.

The Polls Are Open (2017) by Rebecca MushtareArtsWestchester

Rebecca Mushtare invites viewers to cast a ballot, only to learn their vote can only be counted if submitted during a particular time window. The process mimics the experiences of people who live at or below the poverty line who are disproportionately impacted by laws against early voting, limited poll hours, and voter id requirements.

The Bucks Vote Here (2017) by Greg GuestArtsWestchester

This miniature voting booth is constructed from used lottery cards, and reflects on the way many voters may feel about elections -- that the outcome is out of their hands.

Sixteen Hundred Mayhem (21st Century) by Gregg GuestArtsWestchester

As a follow up to The Bucks Vote Here, 1600 Mayhem suggests that money, power, and politics are deeply and inextricably connected.

CAST! (2017) by Richard TomaselloArtsWestchester

How might viewers interpret "Cast"?

Perforated Double Flag (Voting Booth) (2017) by Tom FruinArtsWestchester

"Perforated Flag, is reminiscent of the privacy curtain outside voting booths. Of course, the holes in Tom Fruin's sculpture suggest these curtains aren't so private, raising questions about voter security in the digital age.

I Vote Because (2019) by Ann LewisArtsWestchester

I Vote Because...

...My vote is my voice. Artworks in this section speak to how people feel when they participate in, or are excluded from, the democratic process.

Bamboozled (2017) by Robert BrushArtsWestchester

Robert Brush's neon sculpture references a speech attributed to Malcolm X, and made famous in the Spike Lee biopic about the Civil Rights leader. "Bamboozled" is how many Americans, and especially African Americans may feel about the American election system.

Profile Profile (21st Century) by Phillipe SafireArtsWestchester

Who is "Profile" a portrait of?

Profile is both a portrait of a “winning” candidate and a portrait of the American electorate. Based on an exit poll conducted by Edison Research in 2016, the artist has assigned colors to different voting demographics -- for example, white represents “White Women” and black represents “Latino Men.” The frequency with which a color occurs in the portrait corresponds to the voter turnout of that demographic.

Ameri-can't (21st Century) by Irja BodénArtsWestchester

Irja Boden's ceramic sculpture, with its jumble of toys, makes us wonder: is politics child's play?

Peace Not Politics (21st Century) by Gina PetreccaArtsWestchester

Election season is an exciting and empowering time for many Americans. Collecting memorabilia from elections is a common way to show support for favorite candidates or to mark particular eras in history.

Vote Twenty-Twenty String Box (21st Century) by Susan SaasArtsWestchester

This folk art inspired sculpture is a pocket-sized and playful reminder to vote.

^ote. (21st Century) by The Common CuntsArtsWestchester

^ote draws on the legacy of artist books, Dada, and visual literary works like Marshall McLuhan's "The Medium is the Message" to rally voters to the polls.

VOTE 10/10 (Red) (21st Century) by Michele PredArtsWestchester

A Call to Action

In the midst of a year that has challenged every American in some way, the call to the ballot box has been loud and emphatic, resonating across all forms of media, amongst friends and families, and on the streets in billboards and posters. Artists too have taken their civic duty seriously, not only committing to vote themselves but to remind others to cast their ballot.

Vote during the pandemic (2020) by Nalini Rau and Maya Rau-MurthyArtsWestchester

“Vote in the Pandemic” is a newly scripted and choreographed work by Dr. Nalini Rau, which draws on the gestural language of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form with roots in South India. Through abhinaya, or the art of expression, the dancer uses her hands, body and face to interpret the accompanying text, guiding the audience towards it’s inner meaning. This work positions the act of voting not only as one’s civic duty but also as an expression of hope—the imagining of a new future.

Vote. (21st Century) by Allison BelolanArtsWestchester

Vote for Their Future (21st Century) by Andrew CourtneyArtsWestchester

Hear from the artist about their work, documenting movements for change.

Voting Matters (2020) by Andrea von Bujdoss and Queen AndreaArtsWestchester

Credits: Story

Contributing artists:
Natalie Baxter
Allison Belolan
Irja Bodén
Nicole Bricker
Robert Brush
Laurel Garcia Colvin
Andrew Courtney
Lauren Engel
Tom Fruin
Johanna Goodman
Gregg Guest
Carla Rae Johnson
Yashua Klos
Billy Kornbluth
Ann Lewis
Rebecca Mushtare
Gina Petrecca
Enne Tesse
Michele Pred
Gina Randazzo
Susan Saas
Philippe Safire
Maria Sinatra
Christine Sloan Stoddard
Richard Tomasello
The Common Cunts

Thank you to ArtsWestchester's Board of Directors and to the ArtsWestchester Arts Committee. Give Us the Vote 2020 is the extension of a 2017 project made possible thanks to support of the New York State Council on the Arts.

Voicing for some material provided by Chris Rodriguez and Asavari Sharma. This exhibition was organized by ArtsWestchester's Public Programs department: Logan Hanley, Aaron Paige, and Kathleen Reckling.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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