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Women's Centennial Sculpture
October 31, 2020

The mosaic sculpture and benches, which make up the Women’s Suffrage Plaza, were designed by Burton. The ideas and content of the pieces were developed in collaboration with community organizers representing fourteen participating civic organizations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment establishing a woman’s right to vote.

This imposing, triangular sculpture rests on a circular base. It is entirely mosaic featuring intricate portraits of leading Rockford suffragists as well as faces of the women voters of the future. The sides of the sculpture feature thirty-six stars symbolizing the states to ratify the amendment. The base is edged with ceramic photo tiles. These constitute a posthumous recognition of women who were selected by the organizers for their life’s work and/or activism.

The work was created at multiple locations in Rockford and in the artist’s workshop in Marseilles, IL Demonstrating her deep commitment to community-built public art, Burton coordinated the work of over 200 community volunteers in the creation of the installation. Using the polydam technique, the artist created and coated all of the underlying forms for the work in her home studio. The Women’s Suffrage Plaza area features a circular perimeter with installations of six curved mosaic benches, each themed with Rockford landmarks or historical notes. Again with themes led by the input of the community, Burton envisioned each bench as a work of art in its own right, but coordinated in material and color with the central sculpture.
This award-winning installation was created as part of the Northern Illinois Celebration of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial in 2020.

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