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Women in Capitol Art
The U.S. Capitol is topped by a 19 ½ foot female figure, the “Statue of Freedom.” She represents a concept rather than a specific person. Yet inside the building, Congress honors people—not just ideas—with commemorative sculpture. Some have been commissioned by Congress, some have arrived as gifts to the American people, and some are part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, which offered the states an opportunity to represent themselves with sculptures in the Capitol.
The individuals that each state deemed worthy of this national commemoration are as unique as the states themselves. Their legacies are similarly varied. The same can be said for the artists who sculpted these works: their reputations ranged from the internationally famous to those known mostly at the local level. Architect of the Capitol Curator Dr. Michele Cohen, who wrote the introduction to our series, discussed with us some of the women who created these statues as well as some of the women depicted by them.
Guest Speaker: Michele Cohen, Ph.D., Curator, Architect of the Capitol
For more images of the Women Artists in the Capitol Collection visit this gallery created by the Architect of the Capitol.
Photograph taken April 1969
Courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol
Marisol’s bronze statue of Father Damien of Hawai'i was added to the National Statuary Hall Collection in 1969.
This statue of Father Damien shown shortly after its unveiling in the Rotunda in 1969.
Draped in traditional Hawaiian leis, the statue stands next to Hawaii’s state flag.
Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol
Notice the details and depictions of leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) in Marisol’s statue of Father Damien with the scars from his disease visible on his face and his right arm in a sling beneath his cloak.
For more information on the Women in Art at the U.S. Capitol, visit: https://www.aoc.gov/women-art
For more information on the evolution of women in Capitol art, read this blog by Dr. Michele Cohen.
Featured images (from left to right):
Joy Buba, courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol
Marisol, photo retrieved from the Library of Congress
Evelyn Raymond, courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol