ST. GEORGE — Several women from Southern Utah were featured on a large mural designed by a co-creator of the cover art for the Beatles’ 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The mural was recently unveiled in Salt Lake City and pays homage to two major landmarks for women both in Utah and in the United States.
Commissioned by Zions Bank, the five-story tall “Utah Women 2020” mural is displayed on the Dinwoodey building in Salt Lake City. To commemorate 100 years since the ratification of voting rights for women and 150 years since Utahn Seraph Young became the first woman in the modern nation to cast a ballot, the mural honors Utah women both past and present who have made an impact in their community or field.
“Utah Women 2020” was designed as a collaboration between famed Salt Lake City artist Jann Haworth, who worked on the Beatles’ album, and muralist Alex Johnstone. The final project features portraits of the 250 women stenciled by artists and community members from across the state.
For Haworth, creating the piece as a collaborative effort – both in how the featured women were chosen and how the portraits were created – was a very different approach from the “Sgt. Pepper” cover.
“I took a different line,” Haworth said in an email to St. George News. “First that the choice of who was on it was to be from the community and that members (artists and non-artists) were to be part of the process of making the mural. That is a very different approach.”
Haworth said that when she co-designed the iconic cover art for the Beatles’ album, though some of the heads featured were chosen from outside sources, at least 2/3 were picked by herself or her co-designer. That was not the case with the “Utah Women 2020” mural.
“Very few of the heads were my choice alone,” she said. “What this does is to put both the portrait subject, the community and the artist at a crossing point, each being a part of the story, and it is here that the mural seems to come to life.”
A press release from Zions Bank said the following of how the featured women were chosen:
The 250 individuals depicted on the mural were selected through a democratic process, reflecting a diversity of characters and contributions. Two faces were intentionally left blank to allow observers to place the faces of women important to them – or themselves – in the mural.
Women on the mural include Olympic volleyball player Logan Tom, pediatric surgeon Rebecka Meyers, painter Edie Roberson, philanthropist Gail Miller and former Utah Governor Olene Walker.
Also bringing the mural to life are several Southern Utah women, including the late-historian Juanita Brooks, Cedar City artist Mona Woolsey, Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle founder Stephanie Martini, Southern Utah Museum of Art director and curator Jessica Kinsey and Switchpoint Community Resource Center Executive Director Carol Hollowell.
St. George News was able to reach Kinsey and Hollowell to discuss their inclusion in the mural, how they believe they have made an impact in the community and why Utah still needs to raise women’s voices a century after women received the vote.
On being included in the mural
It was April of this year when Southern Utah artist Teresa Jordan reached out to Hollowell letting her know she wanted to stencil her for inclusion in the mural.
It was near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hollowell said, and at the time, she didn’t fully understand what Jordan was saying to her.
“To be quite frank, I wasn’t really paying attention, because we were just in the middle of COVID, trying to open up the hotel, like that day,” Hollowell said. “I didn’t listen to what it was for.”
Jordan said the following about her nomination of Hollowell in a Switchpoint press release:
I nominated Carol, but I think several other people did, too. Once the nominee list was formed for our area, we were asked to prioritize our choices. … Carol topped my list and I was thrilled to get the chance to do her portrait.
Hollowell has been a longtime advocate for the homeless, leading the Switchpoint Community Resource center since its inception. She said that while she was surprised by the inclusion, she was also honored to be among so many women she admires and so many she hopes to learn more about.
Hollowell said in particular she is inspired daily by Pamela Atkinson, a noted advocate for Utah’s homeless, refugees and low-income families.
“She has done so much for our state.”
For Kinsey, her inclusion on the mural is connected through art.
Commemorating the same historic moments as the mural, a statewide nonprofit campaign called “Better Days 2020” was launched. One of the campaign’s main goals is to use art to “infuse awareness of our (Utah’s) illustrious women’s history into the Utah culture of today.”
As Kinsey contemplated how SUMA could contribute to the campaign, she decided that at one point during the year the museum would solely exhibit women artists.
To that end, Kinsey reached out to Diane Stewart, owner of Modern West Fine Art Gallery in Salt Lake City, about possibly displaying another similar project Haworth has been working on since 2008 called “Work in Progress,” which is partially on display at Stewart’s gallery.
The art piece is a mural currently on 14 panels that features influential and positively impactful women from around the world and throughout time, Kinsey said.
It is a project Kinsey has been co-curating with staff at Modern West for over a year. It was through those conversations and that collaboration that Kinsey was nominated for inclusion on the “Utah Women 2020” mural.
Similar to Hollowell, Kinsey felt like her inclusion was a bit of a surprise, but still, she was grateful for the honor and what it says about the impact SUMA is making on both the Cedar City community and the state.
On making an impact
Each of the women nominated and ultimately showcased on the “Utah Women 2020” mural was chosen for their impact and influence on the state, but Hollowell said it might not be in the ways one might think.
For instance, she said, several notable women politicians are not featured on the mural.
And that was exactly what was important for Haworth.
“It was important to me that the mural told a broad inclusive story – that not only did we include women who were in the public eye through their achievements but (also) those who were not in the spotlight whose contributions were more local-private and possibly unsung,” she said. “All voices are important – from Grandma’s best pickle recipe to Pat Jones’ dynamic leadership role.”
For Hollowell, it is the impact that each woman has made within their own community – a sort of grassroots influence, she said – that makes the mural so special.
“Throughout our state, both past and present, we have people who do things, and they don’t always have to be big things,” Hollowell said. “They’re just creating impacts in their own community.”
Hollowell likened that to the suffrage movement and how it came about.
“It had to be grassroots, and it had to be pounding the cobblestone, you know, to say, ‘We need to be at this table,'” she said. “And how many women in our own communities do that – be a voice for those who can’t or won’t?”
For Kinsey, who has been the director/curator of SUMA since 2017, she said she feels as if her inclusion on the mural is a testament to how the museum has been able to elevate the community’s reputation both regionally and statewide, particularly within the museum and artist niche.
“We at SUMA want to be cutting edge,” she said, “but how can we be trendsetters for the art world in a rural community of 30,000 people where you would not expect to find this building?”
Kinsey said she is incredibly honored to be included on the mural, adding that she believes all the effort she has made to connect SUMA and the Cedar City community to what is happening around the state has paid off.
On raising women’s voices a century after the vote was granted
The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified Aug. 18, 1920, and prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.
Even though it has been a century since the amendment’s passage, Haworth said it remains important to continue to lift women’s voices both in the nation and particularly the state – “heralding gender as purpose.”
“According to the stats, we need to do this especially in Utah,” Haworth said. “It shouldn’t be necessary, but it is.”
The reasons for championing women in Utah are different for Hollowell and Kinsey. Kinsey spoke about finding a work/life balance and how it relates to motherhood roles and being an artist in Utah, while Hollowell talked about the gender pay gap, something she said effects the women she works with on a daily basis.
“It’s time for equality on a lot of issues,” she said. “When we raise our voice like that, we talk about the disparity in pay from male to female in the state of Utah, and it’s pretty big.”
Hollowell said that has to change.
“I think the more we step up and recognize women in positions of impact, then we’re going to get there,” she said. “If we could get there with the vote a hundred years ago, we’re going to get there on (the issue of) disparity in wages. It just takes people talking about it.”
Kinsey agreed and said it is a conversation that should continue in the state.
“It’s not a box you can just check off,” she said of raising women’s voices. “It’s an ongoing thing that people have to be reminded of.”
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