After launching their “How Long Must Women Wait? Woman’s Suffrage and Women’s Rights in Champaign County,” exhibition, the Museum of the Grand Prairie staff went one step further. They “wanted to know what it was like to be a young women in today’s culture.” They “wondered in what ways doors have been closed to young women and in what ways, through empowerment they have opened doors for themselves.” They found their answers in a powerful collaboration with the Sisterhood Academy, “an afterschool program specifically tailored to girls of color,” at Franklin STEAM Academy in Champaign.
Sisterhood Academy works to “to help the girls become well-rounded while developing true and meaningful concepts of self-love, self-respect, ambition, comradery and responsibility, with the goal of empowering the girls to change the world.”
The girls of the Sisterhood began this experience with a trip to the Museum of the Grand Prairie and a close examination of materials about women’s suffrage and women’s rights meant to inform and inspire them. Soon after, mural artist Amanda Danowitz joined the project as advisor and mentor. The photos below just begin to capture the magic of their process and completed work.
This panel, painted on the inside of the door symbolizes “doors that were shut to them, Among the ideas the girls of Sisterhood wanted to include were “Oppression, Racism, Hidden, Classism, Sexism, Hetero Sexism, Silenced, Judgement, Hate, Insecurity, Shamed, and Colorism.”
The outside door panel, seen above, “symbolizes doors that the girls opened for themselves,” and reflects aspects of their own power including “Resilient, Fierce, Beautiful, Natural, Powerful, Intelligent and Brave.”
In addition to expressing their own struggles and successes, the girls of the Sisterhood decided to also include an interactive component meant to engage the viewer in self-reflection. To help viewers put themselves in the girls shoes, the work poses the following questions.:
Who are you?
Do you like who you are?
Do you matter?
Have you struggled?
Is this you?
“The process of creating this mural brought us all together and truly exemplified our
vision and mission as a sisterhood. There were so many common themes among us like shame, pain, pride, kindness, self-love, freedom of expression, and openness. We strive to become future leaders and phenomenal women.” — Excerpt from the Sisterhood’s artist statement
This exhibit will be available for viewing when the Museum reopens in March.