Cause and Effect: From the Industrial Revolution to Women’s Liberation
For the annual Windows on Main Street event in Beacon, NY, I created a window installation and an informational brochure about a topic that I discovered — by accident!
The organizers of WOMS had requested that artists design their projects in relationship to a theme: Industrial/Metal. The instructions stated that participating artists were free to interpret the theme in any way at all. So, I started doing research into the role played by women during the early years of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. Lo and behold, I made an astounding discovery about the women of the first half of the 19th century: not only did they contribute powerfully to the textile industry in New England, they were also pioneers in the area of organized labor! And the lessons these “mill girls” learned about the power of banding together to stand up for one’s rights led to the Women’s Suffrage Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and later, to the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s!
I devised a plan to honor the women of all three eras! I transferred photographic images of important women onto little pieces of cloth. Then, I had these pieces sewn all over a large, old-fashioned linen dress. Then, I found a cardboard mannequin to wear the dress!
Appropriately, I was able to install my creation in the window of a dress shop owned by a woman. Inside and outside of the store, I placed stacks of brochures in which I shared the story outlined above, along with a key to identifying all of the images on the dress.