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Marilyn Artus holds up a large flag made of fabric stripes designed by artists living in six states that helped ratify the 19th amendment. The bottom stripe is Ohio's and was sewn on to the flag at an event in Columbus on July 21. Photo by Amanda Etchison

Ohio Women Vote: Artist Commemorates Ohio’s Role in Ratifying the 19th Amendment with Stripe for Her Flag

Marilyn Artus’ Her Flag journey will take her to 36 states over the course of 14 months. She has divided her travels  into several trips, during which she will stop at each state capital in the order of amendment ratification.  Columbus, Ohio, is the sixth stop and the second city included in Trip 2. Image courtesy of Marilyn Artus, Her Flag.From June 2019 to August 2020, visual artist Marilyn Artus is embarking on a multi-state road trip sure to drive any GPS mad.

Her travels have already taken her from her home state of Oklahoma through Missouri up to Wisconsin, then down to Illinois just to drive farther east to stop in Lansing, Michigan. A few days later, Artus turned right back around and circled back through Springfield, Illinois, to reach Topeka, Kansas, before returning once more to Oklahoma City.

And that was just leg one.
 
Although her car’s odometer might beg to differ, Artus said her circuitous path through 36 states is worth every backtracked mile.
 
The journey is an integral part of Her Flag, a collaborative art and travel project celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, when women began voting in the United States. For Her Flag, Artus is partnering with women artists from the states that worked to ratify the amendment. The artists designed stripes that will be sewn together to form a massive 18-foot-by-26-foot flag. She is stopping in each state’s capital city in the order of amendment ratification to sew each stripe at a public ceremony.
 
“I think it is the coolest thing for the stripes to be in the actual order. I start with Wisconsin and I finish with Tennessee,” Artus said. “I started on the actual date that Wisconsin ratified, and I end on the actual date that Tennessee ratified and the amendment was passed. So, it’s the same duration—the project is the exact same duration of time that it took to ratify the amendment.”
 
Artus’ historically influenced travels brought her to Ohio on July 21, when she sewed the stripe designed by illustrator and designer Lindsay Dale-Scott onto the five stripes already joined together on the flag—Ohio ratified the 19th amendment on June 16, 1919, the same day as Kansas and New York, becoming the sixth on the ratification timeline.
 
The Her Flag ceremonies showcase performing arts in addition to the sewing of the flag, Artus said, adding that it is meant to be an opportunity to engage with the public and encourage them to become more active in the country’s democracy.

 
“Trying to raise awareness about voting is one of the pivotal parts, just engaging with the public and trying to get them aware of women’s history and to think about women’s history,” she said. “For me, one of the big goals is to provide a moment to feel good to be an American and feel good about getting involved.”
 
Dale-Scott, who was chosen by Artus to create Ohio’s stripe for the flag, said her research for the project did just that. Inspired by her findings, Dale-Scott presented a design that pays homage to the past, present, and future generations of women who use their voices to bring about lasting change.
 
“When I was doing research, there was something I found about Ohio leading the crusade for the women’s movement,” Dale-Scott said. “So, part of my design is two back-to-back women who are dressed in armor who also have big suffragette hats on that have bows in the American flag pattern. I thought that was a good way to intertwine the crusade of the women’s movement.”
 


 
The stripe visually shows the diversity of women who took part in the suffrage movement in Ohio, another aspect of history that interested Dale-Scott.
 
“The whole thing says, ‘Ohio women vote,’” she said of the pink and red lettering on the stripe. “On the left side, it’s portraits of women from that time period. The movement in Ohio was really important for immigrants, the working class, and women of color. And then on the right side are more women from today’s time period. I wanted to make sure I represented women from all over.”
 
Artus said this dedication to diversity is another goal for the Her Flag project overall.
 
During her public Her Flag performances planned in each capital city, Marilyn Artus uses a pincushion created by a local artist while she sews on each state’s stripe. Ohio’s pincushion was designed by Megan Conkle of Canton.  (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Artus, Her Flag)“A few years back, I just picked up a book about the suffrage era and fell in love with it and spent about a year doing research on it. I really dug in and found obscure women, obscure stories,” Artus said.  “Within the project, I am not too interested in talking about Susan B. Anthony. Everybody knows about Susan B. Anthony. I want to talk about all of the more obscure suffrage fighters who people don’t really know about. I’m really trying to use that to champion the women who people don’t commonly associate with the suffrage movement or might not even know about.”
To do so through sewing also holds special meaning.
 
“The women’s movement started in quilting and sewing circles, when women were alone. That’s when they could talk about issues that were bothering them or problems that they had. So, I love tying it back in to sewing. It just feels like a lovely place to be to celebrate this anniversary, to keep sewing within the project,” Artus said, adding that she has also chosen to use a pincushion designed by a different artist from each state during the sewing events. Ohio’s pincushion was created by Megan Conkle from Canton, Ohio.
 
Dale-Scott said she is honored to be a part of a project that brings women together to share in creative collaboration.
 
“It’s awesome to see it become part of such a bigger thing. It was hard to image it becoming part of this massive flag, this little tiny stripe,” she said. “My hope was to just inspire the next generation of women to become more involved in our rights. I have a daughter, so I wanted to make something that I hope she would be proud of and be a part of something she would be proud of later on.”
 
Find out more about Her Flag and follow along on Artus’ journey at herflag.com.
 
To see more of Dale-Scott’s work, visit lindsaydaleart.com.
 
Learn more about Her Flag:


Video courtesy of Marilyn Artus, Her Flag
 
ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

 
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Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist
Featured Photo: Marilyn Artus holds up a large flag made of fabric stripes designed by artists living in six states that helped ratify the 19th amendment. The bottom stripe is Ohio's and was sewn on to the flag at an event in Columbus on July 21. Photo by Amanda Etchison
 



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