August 18, 2020 marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment. It was on that day 100 years ago women wearing yellow roses stood shoulder to shoulder in Tennessee awaiting the roll call of men that would cast their votes for or against a woman’s right to a voice in government. The bright flower was an outward symbol of their expression to gain equal representation. After decades of untold risk, through oppression, brutality, incarceration, and even starvation, women fought, seemingly insurmountable odds, at the local, state and national level to gain the right to be a part of the Democratic process.
One year ago, women artists across the country were invited to make photographic work in response, reflection or reaction to the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The large-scale collaboration resulted in A Yellow Rose Project.
Meg Griffiths, project co-founder and TWU assistant professor of photography, said the seeds of the project were inspired by her arrival at the university. She added that the collaboration involving 105 women from 29 states has been in the works for more than a year.
Six of the women involved in the project, including Griffiths, have a TWU connection:
- Elizabeth Claffey, a TWU alumna, is assistant professor of photography at Indiana University
- Susan kae Grant is a TWU professor emerita of visual arts
- Kalee Appleton, a TWU alumna, is an assistant professor of art at Texas Christian University.
- Deedra Baker, a TWU alumna, is a lecturer at TCU and executive director of the Art Room in Fort Worth
- Ashley Kauschinger, a TWU alumna, is editor in chief of Light Leaked and founder of Lensclass
Griffiths said the women’s mission in researching the complication of the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment was to gain a deeper understanding of American history and culture, to build a bridge from the past to the present and future.
She noted that, though the movement granted rights to some women, it was not until much later that all American women, regardless of race, were given the same privilege. “In light of these facts, we asked women to look back upon this part of our history from various perspectives, inviting both a critical eye as well as one that sees how far we have come,” she said.
Griffiths added that she hopes the project inspires others to get out the vote in the coming months.