Women in the Face of History

Women in the Face of History, a banner installation on the façade of Federal Hall, is part of a larger year-long project 100 Years | 100 Women organized by the Park Avenue Armory and nine other cultural institutions throughout the city, that brought together 100 commissioned artists and cultural creators to respond to and interrogate the complex legacy of women’s suffrage. The 100 works, six of which are at Federal Hall, confront America’s national narrative, considers who was excluded from its telling and restores women, from all backgrounds and perspectives, to their rightful place in civic spaces and celebrations.

In 1920, the 19th Amendment was a huge step forward for American democracy, that seemed to grant to all women the right to vote. In fact, for many women, that right would come only years later. Each of the artist whose work is displayed at Federal Hall takes the landmark historical moment as a point of departure.

  • Absent Monuments, Unsung Heroines by Rose DeSiano offers new monuments to celebrate the unrecognized historic and contemporary contributions of women during a time when public spaces are problematized and politicized.

  • Women’s Work, Never Praised, Never Done by Deb Willis retrieves the stories of Black women in the struggle for the vote.

  • Yelaine Rodriguez’s Oshun Orisha of Fertility: Help us Birth Generations of Revolutionary Women, invokes spiritual and cultural images and traditions from the Caribbean to remember that the struggle for suffrage and gender equality was waged by women of different experiences, cultures, and economic backgrounds.

  • Renee Cox’s The Red Coat, celebrates women of strength and power, such as Queen Nanny of the Maroons, who were protagonists of often undervalued histories.

  • Jennifer Ling Datchuk’s American Flag recalls that all women in America did not get the franchise in 1920: left out were Asian American, Native American and Black women.

  • The final banner, Witness in the Face of History, by Adama Delphine Fawundu confronts history and considers the people who were excluded from participation as the nation was formed.

  • The installation is presented at Federal Hall by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy in partnership with the National Park Service and is curated by Deb Willis PhD, Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and Ellyn Toscano, Director Programming and Partnerships for NYU in Brooklyn.

  • The Conservancy’s New Day at Federal Hall seeks to engage the public with the site’s history as the birthplace of American government—its ideas, ideals, flaws and contradictions—through the work of artists.

  • The 100 Years | 100 Women initiative was organized in 2020 by the Park Avenue Armory with New York University and eight other New York City cultural partners. Plans for the exhibition of this work was disrupted by COVID-19 so 100 Years | 100 Women initiative moved online where you can see more work by these artists and dozens of others who are part of the year-long commemoration.