It is truly amazing when you look at the list of US Presidents and not a single woman’s face stares back at you. The history of art is similar. Name 5 famous female artists. You can, of course, but even for an art history buff like myself, I have to think. The thinking is painful because women have always been creative, always made art. It’s just the systems were not set up to support them or the art they made.
I could go on, the list is endless but the point is society and decision-makers have historically been super dominated by one particular kind of American- white and male. The laws, therefore, were not friendly to others. Women, for example, could not hold a mortgage in their name, much less get jobs in most fields and get paid equal to men.
In walks Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The ways she changed life for women in America are countless and underappreciated. For example, if you’re a woman with a credit card in your name you can thank her.
The Story of Ruth
Almost 20 years ago something made me google her and I was knocked sideways. What stuck with me was the story of her education. They were a young married couple with a baby. Ruth and Marty were in law school together when Marty was diagnosed with cancer. Everyone told them to drop out, to take a year off. Ruth Ginsburg was. not. having. it. She took her classes and Marty’s, cared for the child and Marty, typed up both of their homework at night and did it all again the next day. She did all this while being the first woman on the Harvard Law Review. They both graduated on time and went on to spend 56 years together. Ruth graduated first in her class.
She had my attention. That’s just superhuman. Her passion was the 14th amendment that all persons be treated equally under the law. She spent her life making that happen. Changing the world from the inside. There are so many stories of superwomen but RBG is my personal hero. Her perseverance gives me life and reminds me I can do hard things. Just seeing her name or image makes me stand taller, walk prouder and not take a single thing for granted.
In Life and In Art
When she died last September I needed to paint her. I was just devastated that the woman I knew would always have my back, and could get things done, was gone. I did two paintings, All Rise and I Dissent, and they are both in my personal collection. I cannot part with them. But I share those images with all of you in the form of fine art prints and limited edition t-shirts. The RBG t-shirts were a passion project. I wanted one and my friends wanted one and maybe you do too. The prints allow me a way of sharing these paintings with all of you.
Change has never come because the oppressor decided it was time. It has only come when the oppressed take back the power and rights that were always rightfully theirs. I’m grateful for all those who have done just that.