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  • Michael Urbanec, Shaw Medial Group

Marseilles artist creates sculpture honoring 100th anniversary of women's suffrage

Marseilles artist Susan Burton has helped with a community-built sculpture honoring the 100-year anniversary of women's suffrage on the campus of the YMCA in Rockford. The15-foot mosaic sculpture features 32 activists instrumental to the 19th amendment being added to the Constitution holding up signs that say "Our future, our vote," "Let my people vote" and "Votes for women." Activists include Rockford locals Kate O'Connor and Dr. Constance Goode.

Burton said she planted seeds of the idea 10 years ago when she taught classes at Womanspace, a non-profit organization that offers classes in creative arts, holistic health interfaith exploration and environmental stewardship. "The women and some men of Rockford designed project concepts, mixed concrete, cut and ground thousands of tiles and glued and grouted together for months," Burton said. "We created historic magic through a pandemic and a very tough time. Like the suffragists, we kept going, never giving up." Burton said hundreds of children, seniors, artists, organization representatives and local officials worked together to create the sculpture. "This sculpture will continue to interact with the community for years to come in ways we can't begin to imagine," Burton said. "My hope is that the symbolic power and the power of community-built art are seen in this work." Burton has many community-built works in Ottawa, LaSalle and Princeton, and before COVID-19 she taught classes at her Art Farm north of Marseilles and at Open Space Gallery in Ottawa. Burton's local art includes the Pollinator Pillars on Canal Street in Ottawa and Prairie Dreams in Princeton's downtown.

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