On the Money

Continuing with my project to depict women who should be on the twenty dollar bill, I completed this quilt for the Century of Women’s Progress Challenge, a voluntary collaboration of quilt enthusiasts, arts organizations, and museum and historical groups in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“This story quilt challenge honors the hundred-year anniversary of the 19th amendment and highlights progress toward equality over the century since women obtained the vote. While acknowledging that legal, social, economic and political impediments to equality remain, the period between 1920 and the present includes many milestones, achievements, and changes improving the quality of life for women in the United States today. This challenge focuses on celebrating these changes.”

Although my quilt depicts Harriet Tubman, the issue represented is a contemporary one: to have a woman on the US $20 bill.

In the early 21st century, a project was proposed to redesign the twenty dollar bill with a protrait of a woman by 2020 for the centennial of the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote after nearly a century of protest. As the project evolved, 15 candidates were proposed, including Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rosa Parks. The selection was further narrowed to Harriet Tubman by a “grassroots’ poll of over 600,000 people. By 2016, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the twenty dollar bill.

At that time, the possibility of a woman on the twenty excited many of us following this in the news. I was taking a working in a series drawing class at UC Berkeley Extension and drew a series of charcoal portraits of women I thought should be considered for the twenty. I was disapointed when in 2017, the new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the redesign would be delayed until at least 2026 with no guarantee that Harriet Tubman, or in fact any woman, would replace Andrew Jackson.

I completed my quilt by the submission deadline and will await the jurors’ decision to see if it will one of forty included in the show at Voices in Cloth.


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