Fact: Only 20 percent of federal representatives and senators are women.
Interested in the demographics of Congress and frustrated by this gender imbalance, artist and graphic designer Stephanie Rudig seeks to make women in Washington more visible with her public art exhibit SHE-SPAN.
Stephanie has created portraits of every female member of the 113th Congress and has posted them around Washington, D.C. for all to see. She first started the project in early 2013, shortly after a record number of women were sworn in to Congress. In those days, only 19% were women (compared to the walloping 20% who were recently inaugurated into the 114th Congress).
“There was a big national conversation about women’s issues surrounding the 2012 election and in the months following, which was what initially inspired me. Particularly after seeing an all-male panel debate a women’s health issue, I felt frustrated by the lack of female representation. I decided to do these portraits as a way to pay homage to the women who serve, and decided to post them on stickers around D.C. to hopefully put a literal face on the issue of gender parity in Congress,” Stephanie told WYSK.
The images are posted on the D.C. street named after the state each woman represents, with some exceptions “for California-there were way too many to cover the three block long California Avenue,” Stephanie explains. Those interested in seeking out their female representatives can check out this map of where the portraits are being displayed.
Stephanie is considering keeping this project going with the new Congress, but for right now she’s taking some time off to focus on other art projects. In the meantime, we join Stephanie in looking forward to a future in which Congress better reflects the composition of all its constituents. Hopefully in our lifetime.
Lead image top to bottom, left to right: Terri Sewell (D) AL, Nita Lowey (D) NY, Niki Tsongas (D) MA, Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) NM, Lisa Murkowski (R) AK, Janice Hahn (D) CA