The year 2020 marks two major women’s rights events: the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, and the 150th anniversary of Utah’s equal suffrage legislation, which enabled women to cast their votes for the first time in a modern nation.
These landmark events, alongside other surprising historical facts about prominent Utah women, can be explored in the ‘Utah Women Making History’ exhibit, featuring original illustrations by local artist, Brooke Smart.
‘Utah Women Making History’ is part of the Better Days 2020 initiative — a non-profit organization dedicated to popularizing Utah women’s history in creative ways.
Though a recent WalletHub study ranked Utah 49th in gender equality, the women featured in Smart’s gallery certainly paved the way for Suffragists and many women’s rights movements across the country in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The gallery includes women of all races and backgrounds, as early white settlers were featured as well as women from each Native American Utah tribe, and other women of color who faced discrimination for their gender and ethnicity. The stories that are told through these illustrations and small biographies paint a colorful picture of Utah’s rich history that often remains untold.
Smart’s illustrations can not only be seen in the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Art Gallery at South City Campus, but they are soon to be published in a new book, “Champions of Change” by Dr. Naomi Watkins and Katherine Kitterman. The book highlights prominent women in Utah’s history and aims to make their names a legacy worth noting.
Better Days 2020 encourages the public to examine Utah’s historical women through art and literature. In addition, new school programs and curriculums throughout the state plan to teach children about the bright and powerful women that helped found Utah. Through this examination of the past, hopefully, a brighter future for Utah’s women and all its residents is just on the horizon.
The ‘Utah Women Making History’ exhibit will be on display in the Eccles Art Gallery through Sept. 27.
Photos by Sadie Slikker