Full Artist's statement
In 2009, the Occoquan Prison in Lorton Virginia transformed from a penitentiary into the Workhouse Arts Center. Prison cells became studios and artists painted in the white bricked rooms. We held on tight to large canvases as we carried them into our buildings, as the wind constantly howled and threatened to send us airborne.
At the time, I didn’t realize that the Occoquan Prison housed its share of famous prisoners, such as Lucy Burns, a Suffragist leader. In fact, this prison held a large number of suffragists, who were often jailed for standing in front of the White House quietly holding a sign. In a sense, these women were the first “Occupiers” in American history, as they were the first group to picket the White House and the first to coordinate a constant presence.
After much study of these brave women, I began a new painting series. These new works tell the stories of Lucy Burns, Alice Paul, Dorothy Stevens, and other women who fought for the right to vote, and who often experienced “enhanced rendition techniques” once incarcerated. The encaustic paintings combine images of women from that era, portraits of figures in the suffrage movement, and icons of their oppression and their struggle for freedom.