In celebration of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote, artist and activist Marilyn Artus of Oklahoma City is traveling to the 36 states that ratified the amendment to create the 36-stripe Her Flag. Her 14-month journey will bring her to the 12th state to ratify — Arkansas — on Wednesday, Aug. 28, to add the 12th stripe, designed by Virmarie DePoyster, to Her Flag.
The event, at which Artus will sew the stripe onto the flag, starts at 2 p.m. in the Old Supreme Court Room on the second floor of the State Capitol. As Artus sews, vocalists Stephanie Smittle, Barbara Raney and Mercedes Anderson and guitarist/vocalist Nick Devlin of The Salty Dogs will perform.
DePoyster, a native of Puerto Rico who moved to Arkansas at 15, is known statewide for her award-winning artwork; her drawing of a ballerina was chosen by the city for a flag in the downtown Little Rock arts corridor. She is an artist in residency with the Arkansas Arts Council Arts in Education Program and is an arts therapist.
Smittle is the entertainment editor of the Arkansas Times when she is not singing with such groups as Iron Tongue, the Meshugga Klezmer Band, Christ Church Episcopal and in her various operatic roles. Barbara Raney is a longtime vocalist with The Greasy Greens and “Beaker Street” radio staple; Mercedes Anderson is a women’s rights advocate and sacred music cantor at Christ Church Episcopal.
In a news release, Artus says she is “on a mission to make sure that every woman I come in contact with over the next 14 months is registered to vote and gets out in 2020 to put that registration to use. But celebrating this anniversary isn’t just about women. This was a fight. It took Democrats and Republicans and Men and Women and Black and White Americans working together to get this amendment passed. Her Flag is a not a political piece of work, rather a powerful, positive symbol used to educate and celebrate this truly momentous American anniversary.”
Artus’ journey will end in Tennessee, where Arkansas native and nationally recognized illustrator Higgins Bond will provide the final stripe. The completed flag will be 18 feet by 26 feet; the Arkansas stripe is 6 inches by 165 inches.
Others artists involved in the Her Flag tribute to women’s suffrage include Jann Haworth of Utah, the fiber art sculptress who co-designed the album cover to The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and Nicole LaRue of New Hampshire, who designed the official Women’s March on Washington logo.