The mosaic depicting the civil rights leader and suffragist was commissioned to celebrate the 19th amendment’s 100th anniversary.
A new art installation has popped up in Union Station. The 1,000-square-foot mosaic depicting civil rights leader, suffragist and anti-lynching advocate, Ida B. Wells, commissioned by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, was set up on Monday, August 24, to celebrate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment–the amendment that granted American women the right to vote.
The piece, created by British artist Helen Marshall and produced by Purpose Entertainment, is part of the commission’s “Our Story: 100 Years of Women’s Right to Vote” series and features more than 4,000 small photographs of suffragists that altogether depict Wells. Viewers can also explore the mosaic tiles in detail in an interactive online version of the piece and learn more about the many stories hidden behind Wells’ portrait.
The Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote was approved on August 26, 1920 (the date now celebrated as Women’s Equality Day), so what better spot to set up Well’s celebratory portrait than Union Station, a DC spot closely linked with suffragism. In February 1919, a group of 26 of suffragists with the National Women’s Party, who had been jailed after picketing the White House, started their cross-country from Union Station. Their “Democracy Limited” train tour helped the suffragist share their experiences as political prisoners.
Wells herself fought for gender and racial equality, becoming a journalist and civil rights leader and a vocal critic of the movement’s faction which prioritized white women’s rights over that of Black women, indigenous women and other women of color. Her 1892 pamphlet, Southern Horrors, also brought attention to the lynchings of Black people. Later in 1913, Well went on to found the Alpha Suffrage Club to organize women of color and marched in the Washington, DC parade that same year.
“Our Story: Portraits of Change Mosaic of Ida B. Wells” will be on display at Union Square until Friday, August 28, make sure to check it out!
[Featured image: @thepeoplespicture, Instagram]