2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote in the United States in 1920. This historic moment is significant yet complex, for the suffrage movement mainly benefited white women. For decades after, Black, Asian, Latinx and Indigenous women continued to face state-level discriminatory practices and barriers to citizenship that prevented them from voting.
St. Catherine University recognized and examining this milestone through a collaboration with Twin Cities PBS and local filmmaker Daniel Bergin. Bergin’s most recent documentary, Citizen, explores the role of Minnesota women in pursuing the right to vote, while complicating the suffrage narrative by questioning: “how did tensions between Black and white, native born and immigrant, and radical and moderate mar the movement?” Painted by Minneapolis artist Leslie Barlow, the portraits on view here are featured in the film, bringing to life the stories of Minnesota suffragists Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, Nellie Griswold Francis, Julia Bullard Nelson, Dr. Martha Rogers Ripley, Sarah Burger Stearns and Clara Hampson Ueland.
St. Kate’s students interacted with the suffrage story through community-engaged service-learning courses and the core curriculum. The October 2020 Integrated Learning Series invited the campus community and the public to expand their understanding of suffrage through weekly panel discussions that investigated the intersection of suffrage and historical perception, systemic inequality and racial justice, visual culture, leadership and activism, and our own engagement in democracy.
St. Catherine University thanks Twin Cities PBS for their generous partnership and use of the below images. An exhibition of the paintings is on view for the campus community in the 3rd floor common area of Couer de Catherine.
Special thanks to Anastasia Rousseau ’22, Communications Student Coordinator with the Center for Community Work and Learning, for providing the biographical information about each Minnesota suffragist pictured here. Click here to read about the suffragists.
Leslie Barlow is a visual artist, educator, and space creator living and working in Minneapolis. In her visual art practice, Barlow's current work uses figurative oil painting to share stories that explore the politics of representation, identity, otherness, and race. Barlow actively exhibits her work throughout the United States and is currently working towards an exhibition of a new body of work that will be shared at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in early 2021. In 2019 she was awarded both the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship and the 20/20 Springboard Fellowship, and in 2020 was a recipient of the MSAB Cultural Community Partnership Grant. During summer 2020 she joined a collective of public artists (Creatives After Curfew) to create and facilitate community mural work in response to George Floyd’s murder and in solidarity with the subsequent unrest and uprising. She currently teaches at the University of Minnesota, helps run the organization MidWest Mixed, and she also supports emerging artists as the Director of Studio 400.