Sunday, June 22, 2014

Capitol Women

I took a quick trip to Hartford yesterday to get a photograph of the Sedgwick statue on the Capitol building for an exhibit I'm working on. As I strolled around the building looking for Sedgwick, I couldn't help noticing that the building's artwork depicts nothing but Important Men from Connecticut history. Oh, those Important Men!

Sedgwick, on the south facade of the Capitol building.

Being a feminist, I immediately reflected on the total absence of women from the building--and then I realized that the women were all up top by the dome, mostly naked, and entirely fictional.

Back when the Capitol building was constructed, decision makers saw history through the lens of white men being "naturally" superior to everyone else. In that era, it was taken for granted that the most important events in history were all about white men.

The women arranged around the dome are allegorical figures, fictional women whose role is to passively inspire the great deeds of men or to represent concepts such as agriculture and commerce.

Just when I was beginning to feel very disheartened by the state Capitol, I discovered a statue of Ella Grasso tucked around a side of the building. Finally! An Important Woman from Connecticut history!

There are a number of niches that are empty, waiting for future Important People to be added. Hopefully they'll be filled with a more diverse group than what is already there.

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