An Homage to Female Heroes

All photos courtesy of the BYU Museum of Art​.

Quick: how many scientists, mathematicians, artists, or activists can you name? Now, how many of those are women?

When asked a similar question, pop artist Jann Haworth felt ashamed to come up short. This sparked the idea for Work in Progress, a traveling mural on display now at the BYU Museum of Art until August.

Haworth, who codesigned the cover for the 1967 Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and her daughter Liberty Blake, a collage artist, created the mural to pay homage to women innovators and the fight for gender equality. And the piece, now 40 feet long, grows at every stop on its tour.

Everywhere the work is exhibited, Haworth invites locals to chip in. As of February, BYU students and faculty had created 40 of the more than 150 depictions of notable women.

“I was thrilled to get to create the stencil for and then paint the 12th-century saint Hildegard of Bingen,” says BYU Spanish-literature professor Valerie Hegstrom (BA ’82, MA ’86), who teaches about the medieval European writer in women’s studies courses.

“I chose to stencil Lee Bontecou,” says artist Eliza Scout Asay (’19), “because her sculptures motivate me to reduce my exploitation of natural and human resources.”

Visual arts professor Joseph E. Ostra (BFA ’82) selected Clara Barton, organizer of the Red Cross, and Alice Paul, a champion of women’s su rage.“Both proved to be extremely focused, articulate people who exhibited an uncommon level of courage,” he says. “I feel that my life and that of my family have benefited in deep and profound ways as a result of their sacrifice.”

The BYU-community picks, from Mother Teresa to Vera Wang, can be found on the bookend panels of the work. They join the ranks of female luminaries on the canvas, from more recognizable figures, like Anne Frank and Harriet Tubman, to others, like Claudette Colvin, an early pioneer of the civil rights movement, who have faded from the collective memory. “We need to fight celebrity,” says Haworth, emphasizing the significance of depicting women who are uncelebrated by the world. “There is this terrible seduction of the mind with wealth and beauty— it’s really childish. We need to find real worth.”

Audrey Wayment holds her stencil of Cindy Sherman
1 of 10: “ I have always been drawn to Cindy Sherman’s photographs, as the she gives each one a distinct voice that refuses to go unheard. Sherman is a paragon of veracity and she inspires me to give ear to the strong voices that have been overlooked by history.” —Audrey G. Wayment (’18)
Schuyler Finley hold his stencil of Jane Goodall
2 of 10: “Jane Goodall inspired me because of her dedication to her discipline and her quest to making the world a safer place for living things. I chose her because I felt a connection to the image and was interested in making a stencil of this amazing person and one of her close friends, the chimpanzee.” —Schuyler J. Finley (’18)
Sadie Dodson holding her stencil of Harper Lee
3 of 10: “I chose Harper Lee as my inspiration. Harper used creativity to produce a nationally acclaimed book that made Americans think about identity, race, gender, and general human decency. She was a strong woman who was ambitious for her dream to be an author. She put all of her efforts into her passion, and surrounded herself with people who encouraged her to leave behind practicalities in order to make a difference. As an artist, I really relate to her ambition, passion, friendships, and desire to make others think outside themselves.”  —Sadie R. Dodson (’18)
4 of 10: “I am inspired by the life and work of Temple Grandin. She speaks out about her autism, how it affects her life and her work. I’m particularly touched by her TED Talk, ‘The World Needs All Kinds of Minds.’ She embodies the idea that ‘different’ does not mean ‘less.’” —Tara L. Carpenter
Anna Giberson holds her stencil of Lorraine Hansbury
5 of 10: “I initially chose Lorraine Hansberry not really knowing who she was outside of the fact that she wrote A Raisin in the Sun. After researching more about her, I learned how she was the first African American to win a New York Critic’s Circle Award, and that she used her celebrity status to speak out on important issues like racism and sexism. She inspires me to live my life to the fullest and always advocate for those who are marginalized.” —Anna K. Giberson (’17)
Kenneth Hartvigsen holds his stencil of Chien-Shiung Wu
6 of 10: “I chose Chien-Shiung Wu, a Chinese-American experimental physicist, to celebrate the countless women who have made, and continue to make, vital contributions to humanity’s intellectual advancement.” —Kenneth J. Hartvigsen
Margaret Leak holding her stencil of Marie Atoinette
7 of 10: “After studying the life of Marie Antoinette, I realized she is vastly misunderstood by history. I find her to be charming, thoughtful of others, and faithful to God and family. If I could choose one person from history to have dinner with, it would be her. I want to hear her side of the story.” —Margaret R. Leak (BA ’09)
Annika Burton holding her stencil of Gwendolyn Brooks
8 of 10: “I chose to stencil Gwendolyn Brooks because she is a symbol of hope, and because I feel like we don’t recognize the contributions of African American women as much as we do Caucasian women. She was an award-winning poet who inspired many as she broke through gender and race barriers in her field.” —Annika C. Burton (’18)
Chiara Elwood Sorenson holds her stencil of Camille Claudel
9 of 10: “A I chose to stencil Camille Claudel because her artistic genius and talent exceeded that of many of her male contemporaries who received a great deal more recognition than she. As a student of Art History and Curatorial Studies, I am inspired by her determination to make art that would not be overshadowed by her personal relationship with Auguste Rodin; she wanted to establish her own reputation. I hope that this mural can open eyes to her remarkable individual talent.” —Chiara Elwood Sorenson (’17)
Megan Livingston holding her stencil of Eva Hesse
10 of 10: “I chose the artist Eva Hesse because I felt a connection to her as an artist, since I too am studying art. Her work is beautiful and helped pave the way for a lot of artists now. I think she is a strong example of doing something that you believe in because you just love it that much.” —Megan E. Livingston (’17)

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