A Movement of Women
Vaughan’s installation includes 40 portraits in pastel of American conservative women, letterpress quotes, a data index box, a library, and archival materials collected by Vaughan over several years
The opening date for this show is important. August 26, 1920 — the date of the passage of the 19th Amendment — arguably the high point of unity for America’s women — came after some 70 years of work from the first women’s convention, in Seneca Falls, focused on achieving universal suffrage. In the 100 years since that date, women have become increasingly divided. While progressive women were pushing for equality, conservative women spent much of their time defending American liberty and family values.
Vaughan’s project investigates 40 of those conservative women, including activists, entertainers, politicians, television hosts, pundits and writers who have platforms to reach wide audiences. The list includes Laura Ingraham, Betsy DeVos, Anita Bryant, Nancy Reagan, and Phyllis Schlafly — all of whom also provide quotations for a series of twelve 8x10” letterpress prints, hand-pulled with Cheltenham metal type on pink heavy stock office paper.
The focus on conservative women helps Vaughan gain a clearer understanding of "progress" versus "tradition" when it comes to women's rights, health and equality. For instance, a woman's right to choose has been under attack since the passing of Roe v. Wade, leaving progressive women in a constant state of defense for the last 46 years, instead of building a stronger coalition for women's health as a whole. Recent headlines have featured conservative women defending the patriarchy in sexual discrimination lawsuits at companies like Fox News; DeVos’s Department of Education rolling back sexual assault protection on college campuses; and the unfair pay gap women continue to face in the workforce.
Writes Vaughan: “As we remember those who paved a path for progress, I was instead interested in exploring stories of conservative women and their journey in shaping American values while reinforcing the patriarchal norm. Some have famous legacies; others are lesser-known women who made imprints in the law, influenced policy, or had prominent positions across faith-based communities. Collecting names of who to include became a complex, personal endeavor.”