Saturday, September 04, 2010

Voter, Decision Portrait Series

(Above: Voter, Decision Portrait Series. Stitched words: Two days before my death to breast cancer...I insisted on casting my ballot. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand stitched and beaded. 25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed. Click on image to enlarge.)

My original "wish list" for Decision Portraits included a desire to stitch something about voting. The right to vote was established with the Constitution of our country. At the time, only white, male property owners had this right. Obviously, things have changed....several times. The last religious prerequisites were dropped in 1810. Property ownership prerequisites were dropped by 1850. The 15th Amendment was adopted in 1870....extending the right to vote to all former slaves....basically, all men could vote. The 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920....allowing women to vote. In 1971 the voting age was dropped to eighteen. There's a lot more history here....but basically, almost every legal adult can cast a ballot. Most don't.

Voting is an important right but people still have a decision to make: To vote or not to vote?

(Above: Voter, Decision Portrait Series, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Caitlin Schmidt made this decision recently. She cast her ballot for mayor of Columbia, among other things. It wasn't easy for her. She was in excruciating pain. Her days were dwindling and she knew it. Going to the voting poll was the very last trip Caitlin was able to make out of her house. Breast cancer claimed this loving wife and mother of three young children just two days later.

(Image, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I learned of Caitlin's decision much later even though she lived in my neighborhood. Another neighbor introduced me to her husband. It was with his help that the portrait was created. He selected the photo from a special trip abroad....just the year before. I hope people seeing her portrait think about their right to vote. Was it exercised in the last election? I hope they think about it the next time there's a chance to vote. To vote or not to vote, the choice is ours.

I wanted the last Decision Portrait to be stitched before my exhibition in Charleston to be a deeply meaningful piece. This is it....powerful and ever so significant. Caitlin's strength is one of the forces pushing me forward. The installation is on Monday and also later in the week. There's a lot of work to be done and I'll do it with pride and happiness because I know how important each portrait is. I can't wait to share them with a new audience. There's now a "book" of the portraits too! More posts are coming...about the installation, the book, and the reception that will be next Friday, September 10 from 6 - 8. I'm also giving an "artist lecture" on Saturday, October 2nd!


lindacreates said...

Kudos to you Susan, and even more to Caitlin. If we don't vote we should be ashamed of ourselves. She is a hero. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Powerful post Susan - another instance of the human spirit overcoming the body.
And did you say 'book'? Where, When?

Julie said...

A very moving and thought provoking post Susan. I'm sure Caitlin would have been proud to know you had included her portrait.

You have an exciting time coming up this week. The very best of luck to you and enjoy it all! x

EmandaJ said...

Brava, brava! Your show is going to be a great success -- beautiful, powerful, moving.


neki desu said...

got the newsletter. this series is a declaration of principles, yours and the people depicted and it goes deeper than what is shown.
poked around your photos of the house in Hungary,loved what i saw.
lots of luck and have fun at the opening.