Did you know that despite women making up 51 percent of the American population, fewer than eight percent of statues in the United States are amazing females? Frustrated by this statistic, the streaming service Hulu has embarked on a new public art project with visual artist Saya Woolfalk.
Titled Made By Her: Monuments, the effort will bring three new monuments of historical women to Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles. The subjects of the artworks are legendary activist and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, journalist and conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Supreme Couty Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Despite the tremendous contributions that women have made throughout U.S. history, they are still widely underrepresented in public monuments throughout the country,” said Kelly Campbell, President of Hulu. “Now more than ever, it is crucial to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women and other underrepresented groups, and Hulu is proud to play a meaningful role in doing so.”
Made By Her: Monuments is not Hulu’s first public art project addressing statue parity. Before the third season of the streaming service’s popular show The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu had contemplated how to spark authentic conversation and generate action around gender inequality. Drawing on the show’s core message — “History is written by those who tell it” — Hulu chose to bring statue parity for one day to New York City.
On June 7, 2019, 140 mirrored statues of women were erected. The mirror effect made the statues look invisible from afar, clearly dramatizing just how fleeting women’s representation can be. Thousands of people walked through the exhibit, posted photos, and thanked Hulu for highlighting the need for equality. The exhibition was so popular it also visited Atlanta, San Francisco, and Boston.
For the past two years, Hulu has worked closely with Woolfalk, a Brooklyn-based artist, to design and bring Made By Her: Monuments to life. The three monuments will be donated to their respective city’s permanent public art collection and will serve as a place of pilgrimage to celebrate women’s contributions.
“Through our conversations, it became clear that Hulu really wanted to support something that was part of the public collection,” Woolfalk said. “These are women who did not let what people imagined they were limit who they became, and so I want them to be presented as incredibly limitless individuals through these monuments.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a journalist, author, and activist. Douglas stood for many things, ranging from human rights to the environment. She famously stated, “There must be progress, certainly. But we must ask ourselves what kind of progress we want, and what price we want to pay for it”.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas monument is within Miami’s Peacock Park oak hammock in Coconut Grove. Just minutes from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas House, visitors will honor her memory with a familiar scene — a place to sit in repose, surrounded by the beauty of nature.
“Throughout her very eventful 108 years, M.S.D. fought many battles: for women’s rights, civil rights, and environmental rights,” said Cristina Favretto, Head of Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries. “She had patience, tenacity, and wit, but best of all, she had the ability to inspire and motivate those around her. In other words: she was a leader.”
Douglas worked tirelessly to protect The Everglades in Florida. She was also a charter member of the first American Civil Liberties Union in the South and an avid supporter of both the Equal Rights Amendment and migrant farmworkers. In 1947, Douglas released her best-selling book The Everglades: River of Grass (the picture above is from a book signing).
Coretta Scott King
The Coretta Scott King monument, located at the King Center in Atlanta right by Martin Luther King, Jr’s eternal flame, features a beautiful, hand-crafted sculpture of microphones on a mosaic tile plinth. Visitors will be reminded of their voices’ power and will have the opportunity to speak into the sculpture and have their own words amplified.
King was an author, activist, and civil rights leader. She and her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., fought for social justice and equal rights. She once said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation”.
After Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, King established the King Center to preserve her husband’s legacy. She also became increasingly involved in the women’s movement and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Outstanding Black writers and illustrators of children’s literature are recognized with the Coretta Scott King award in her honor.
“I am thrilled that my mother, Coretta Scott King, and other great women who have made positive impacts on American history are being recognized,” states Dr. Bernice A. King, C.E.O., The King Center. “As the visionary and founder of The King Center, it is only fitting that this public monument be housed at the institution that she birthed and the site of her final resting place. Many people may not know that when my father, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, he was one of the most hated men in America. It is because of my mother’s tireless efforts that he is now globally celebrated for his nonviolent movement and is honored with a holiday. She has earned this recognition, as have Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a Supreme Court justice who advocated for gender equality and women’s rights. In 1971, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Justice Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Court. Her nickname became “The Notorious R.B.G.,” a moniker she embraced in later life.
The monument inspired by Justice Ginsburg will honor her commitment to gender equity and equal justice under the law. The Van Nuys Civic Center in Los Angeles was chosen as the statue’s site for its connections to Justice Ginsburg’s passions, leadership, and background. It’s situated close to the courthouse and public library in the center of what was once a center of local Jewish communal life. In collaboration with Council President Nury Martinez, the Mayor’s office will work to activate this important space for all Angelenos to enjoy for generations to come. Unveiling of the monument will occur in early 2022.
“The family of Justice Ginsburg is pleased and honored that our mother and grandmother will be included in the three new Made By Her permanent monuments to historic women,” said Justice Ginsburg’s daughter, Jane Ginsburg, and granddaughter, Clara Spera. “We are delighted that the organizers have selected the Van Nuys Public Library as the site for her piece of this important public art project; given the formative role she credited to public libraries in her childhood, we are sure that she would have been proud of the location for this recognition of her achievements.”
Made by Her: Monuments
To learn more about Made by Her: Monuments, including exact unveil dates for each monument, behind-the-scenes images, and video, and other content from the project, visit MadebyHer.Hulu.com.
Written by Amaya Coleman
Images provided by Hulu, University of Miami Libraries, and The Library of Congress