Century of Women's Progress Quilt Challenge, 1920-2020.

"It's in the Genes"

by Diana Hill

This piece pays homage to individuals, great and small; events, famous and infamous but especially recognizes those innate traits, those sparks, which are requisite to overcome inertia, even hostility and resistance to advance women’s causes to where we stand today.

Initially one’s eyes are drawn to the sobering poster at the base of the quilt, "Waiting for a Living Wage." This 1913 poster* depicts a chained working woman who is visited by Starvation while she waits for a living wage. The "flying geese" emerging from her cell, representing the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, is a colorful double helix representing the varied talents and capabilities required to correct the inequalities women face. The shimmering crazy pieced white background represents the shattering of the "glass ceiling." "Etched" (i.e. quilted) in the glass are a few landmark events which have advanced women’s rights: Amendment XIX, Equal Pay Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Title IX, #metoo, Equal Rights Amendment (so close to passing!).

Those talents and capabilities referred to earlier are inherent traits ("It’s in the Genes") our predecessors had and nurtured. We, too, have similar DNA; it is incumbent upon us to build on this legacy, and continue to advance our cause upward. It is in our destiny to inspire and to succeed. To accomplish this we acknowledge the interrelationship each individual has with humanity.

To paraphrase the words of John Donne:

No [one] is an island entire of itself; every [person] is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any [person’s] death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in [humanity]. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

From Meditation XVII "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions"

 

Today, we recognize an Emergent Occasion, the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. A key which has opened doors in the progress toward a kinder and gentler world where humanity values, not judges its cherished individuals.

* This poster was originally produced by the Suffrage Atelier and designed by Catherine Courauld in 1913 and is in the public domain.