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Explore the topics of women’s rights through ‘A Yellow Rose Project’

Spectra Gallery at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Honors College, is hosting A Yellow Rose Project, 30 works chosen from a collaboration of 105 women photographers celebrating the centennial of the 19th amendment which gave the vote to women. The women who participated in the collaboration express a rich, broad approach to the topics of women’s rights and the vote, and speak to obstacles faced by women in 1920, as well as the issues women still face today. The exhibit will be on display until October 30.

One of the featured photographers in the A Yellow Rose Project exhibit is New Mexico’s own Megan Jacobs, associate professor in the Honors College. Comparing Jacobs’ image of a woman’s hand holding a glass of water containing an egg, to suggest the ongoing battle for women’s reproductive rights, to Letitia Huckaby’s photograph of a little Black girl in profile holding a sign that says “Enough,” illustrates the variety of approaches to the challenge posed by the collaboration.

A Yellow Rose Project was founded by Meg Griffiths, assistant professor of photography at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and Frances Jakubek, director of exhibitions and operations at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York City. The collection’s name was inspired by the story of women lobbying for the vote 100 years ago at the legislative session in Tennessee which ratified the 19th Amendment. They wore yellow roses as a symbol of support for the suffrage movement.

Among the many other striking images in the exhibit:

  • A bright red and black photograph by Cindy Hwang entitled “Chinese Girl Wants Vote,” honoring Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, a suffrage activist who was forbidden to vote even after the passage of the 19th Amendment because Chinese immigrants were excluded from citizenship at the time.
  • Toni Pepe’s image combining an old newspaper photograph of a group of women protesting in Egypt diagonally overlaid with newspaper photo captions about the event.
  • An image by Claudia Ruiz Gustafson of a woman with eyes closed and filmy attire above a waving sea of outstretched women’s arms.

“I kept thinking about a quote from Sojourner Truth,” Griffiths explains, “Sojourner Truth said women’s fates were linked but not because they were the same. Our collection reflects women’s many, diverse paths.” Keeping this in mind, Griffiths and Jakubek invited women to look back and explore this narrative with a critical eye, as well as one that sees how far we have come, and how much farther we must go.

A Yellow Rose Project is on display this year in on-site exhibits and virtual formats at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver, Indiana University in Bloomington and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The project will also be collected in book form in a limited-edition printing. The founders hope that the collection will be used as a resource and inspiration for artists, historians, teachers and interested viewers for years to come.

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