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ArtsWestchester exhibition celebrates centennial of suffragist movement

ArtsWestchester’s latest exhibition “Give Us the Vote” pays homage to the centennial of the women’s suffragist movement of 1917 and brings new light to the issue of voter restriction throughout the following years.

“Give Us the Vote” features 20 artists and their interpretations of the struggles marginalized groups have faced in the struggle to obtain equal voting rights.

Members of Stitch & Bitch of Westchester County, a crochet and knitting group, create pink “p—- hats” for the ArtsWestchester gift shop.

“The artwork here is generally inspired by the suffragist movement, but it’s [also] looking at where our voting rights are today,” said Kathleen Reckling, ArtsWestchester gallery director.

Reckling hopes for the exhibition to be able to create open conversation amongst its visitors, especially in the wake of the Women’s March of 2018, a women-led protest march that rallies for equal rights which was held worldwide on Jan. 20.

In honor of the march, ArtsWestchester welcomed Stitch & Bitch of Westchester County, a knitting and crochet group, to hold their weekly meeting amongst the “Give Us the Vote” exhibition on Jan. 19.

The women knitted pink “p—- hats” that they donated to the ArtsWestchester gift shop and are on sale for $7.

The hats are meant to resemble female anatomy and are intended to create a visual representation of solidarity amongst marchers.

According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City had more than 200,000 participants in this year’s march.

“The real work happens in little spaces, in [local] communities,” said Cheryl Couts, a member of Stitch & Bitch.

Reckling hopes that the gallery will get across a similar message to the Women’s March.

“Redress” by Laura Garcia Colvin.

“It’s that idea that you can participate, and these acts of protests are really about making sure we’re the best version of America that we can be, and that everyone has an equal chance,” she said.

The art covers both floors of the gallery, and focuses on the suffragist movement; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an act eliminating discriminatory voting laws; and gerrymandering, when political boundaries are drawn to favor a political party.

When choosing the artwork, Reckling said they looked at artists who had a strong background of artwork that focused on political issues and invited those artists to submit proposals.

Some of the artwork, including “Redress,” chronicles the suffragists protests throughout the years.

“It just sort of points to this idea that our story of democracy is ever evolving,” Reckling said. “The suffragists kind of laid a groundwork for the political movements following.”

Natalie Baxter’s “Golden Lane.” Photos/Taylor Brown

Other works of art, including Richard Tomasello’s “Cast,” provides and optimistic outlook to the future of voting rights. The sculpture features a voting booth is wrapped plaster and medical gauze with barbed wire surrounding it.

Tomasello said it’s meant to represent how some people are restricted from getting too close to cast their votes while using a cast to imply there is room for this broken political system to heal.

Reckling said that the messages of the work in the gallery has left visitors coming out “feeling really jazzed about the role they get to play [in history].”

The exhibition is in ArtsWestchester until Feb. 10.

The gallery is open 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, visit artswestchester.org.

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