Women in Capitol Art

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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.

                          Women Artists at the Capitol

black and white photo of a woman in a white dress talking to a man in a suit to her rightMarisol, (1930-2016)
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.





large black and white photo of a statue that has a name at the bottom stand and is sitting in front of a large painting in the backgroundThis 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





grey statue of a man with a hat and cloakFather Damien

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


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