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Art show celebrates 19th Amendment

Members of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women's Consortium take in the Women's Movement: Art By, About and For Women exhibit currently on display at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — Members of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium recently visited the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts to take in the exhibition currently on display, Women’s Movement: Art By, About and For Women.

The art show celebrates the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. The exhibition — on display through March 31 — features 90 pieces in a variety of media, mostly themed around women and female identity, from 40 artists, the majority of whom are female.

The Nigra Arts Center organized the exhibition after ECSWC Vice President Sandra Maceyka reached out seeking an opportunity to connect the arts with the organization’s Women’s Symposium, “Empowering Women.”

The symposium celebrating Johnstown native Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s role in the suffrage movement and the efforts of all women past and present hosted by the Consortium normally takes place every other year, but following the 2017 symposium the group decided to delay the conference until this year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the passage of women’s suffrage.

“It’s a day for camaraderie between women,” explained ECSWC President Helen Martin. “It also encourages them to understand and appreciate all of the work that was done by the suffragists for us to be in the place we’re at now with as many rights as we have. But it by no means means that our work is over, the work continues until we’re on an equal playing field with men.”

The Consortium organized a student art show to coincide with the last symposium and presented an award to the work that best represented Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Seeking an opportunity to present the award again this year, Maceyka contacted the Nigra Arts Center.

Wally Hart, executive director of The Lexington Foundation, said the prospect of organizing an art show around the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage to coincide with the symposium created a unique opportunity for the Nigra Arts Center that led many of the featured artists to create new works based on the theme; by, about and for women.

“They were really engaged,” said Hart. “They really thought about what they wanted to submit.”

“We quite often don’t have a theme that’s specific,” he noted. “There were lots of questions with this show.”

Hart said the Nigra Arts Center fielded questions from artists on the show about who could submit, mistakenly thinking it was open only to female artists, and what types of work should be submitted. This created an interesting challenge that led to a representative and inclusive show in keeping with the mission of the arts center and Lexington, he said.

“I think what we’re trying to do here is be an inclusive art center, that’s been our goal from day one,” said Hart. “This is just another opportunity for us to be inclusive with messages, with the artist representation and certainly to support all of the artists, but since this was a majority female show it’s a pretty wonderful thing for us to be able to do. And to celebrate in collaboration with the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium.”

Members of the ECSWC visited the Nigra Arts Center on Wednesday to take in the show and select a recipient of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Award.

“We’re looking for a piece of artwork that aligns with Elizabeth’s ambitions for the progress of women,” said Maceyka. “For years nobody even knew Elizabeth came from Johnstown or Fulton County. No one knew that this woman who traveled the country and all over the world and got us the vote and got us all kinds of rights is from Johnstown, which is absolutely amazing.”

Both Maceyka and Martin admired the quality of the art while trying to select a piece they said showed the strength, power and tenacity of women possessed by the suffragists.

“They weren’t just automatically accepted with open arms. They fought, and they clawed and they scratched for all those years in order to get their message through and eventually have the suffrage amendment passed,” said Martin. “It’s interesting to me the different mindsets the artists had when they were creating these pieces.”

“They actually took the message of this show and they created something specifically for that. I think that’s phenomenal, because as we all know, it’s not an easy thing to create a piece of art just like that,” she continued. “I’m anxious for everybody in the community to come up and see the show and support it.”

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Award, and several other awards for outstanding submissions, will be presented during a meet the artists closing reception at the Nigra Arts Center on March 27 from 6 to 8 p.m., the night before the Women’s Symposium at HFM BOCES on March 28.

Both the closing reception and the Women’s Symposium will feature special guest speaker Kristen Visbal, a bronze sculptor who created the “Fearless Girl” statue that stood temporarily on the Bowling Green in Manhattan’s Financial District.

The Women’s Movement: Art By, About and For Women show at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts at 2736 Route 30 is on display through March 31. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Gallery admission is a suggested $5 donation. Members of the Nigra Arts Center, children under 18 and participating artists are admitted free.

A meet the artists closing reception will be held at the Nigra Arts Center on March 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is open to the public and is free to attend.

For more information about the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium, the Women’s Symposium or “Empowering Women,” visit ecswc.org.

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