Women's Rights NHP uses art to help visitors examine park resources in a new light

Women's Rights National Historical Park, Arts Afire!

Cyanotype artist Carol Flueckiger (seated) and her workshop class


Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Arts Afire
Year Accomplished:

The National Park Service's Call to Action initiative: ARTS AFIRE! asks that we showcase the meaning of parks to new audiences through dance, music, visual arts, writing, and social media.  Women's Rights National Historical Park brought attention to the cultural resources that document and evoke the origins of the nation's women's rights movement with three separate month-long ARTS AFIRE! programs.   


Two ARTS AFIRE! programs, planned in partnership with the Seneca County Arts Council, involved the participation of four local artist instructors, three art workshops, two art shows, and two combined shows.  A third program brought Carol Flueckiger,  visiting guest artist from Texas Tech University, to the park for three workshops, an art show, a combined show, and two special presentations.  Each program included "curator corner" exhibits, resource packets, and discussions about featured cultural resources. The art is featured on the park website and facebook page, further extending information and inspiration to on-line visitors.


The inaugural program in March featured the Thomas and Mary Ann M'Clintock House.  The M'Clintocks harbored freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad in their home, as well as the drafting of the Declaration of Sentiments, the manifesto of the nation's first Women's Rights Convention in 1848.  Artists Patricia Roth Schwartz and Lynn Patti exhibited poetry and collage with documents from the M'Clintock family.  They led two workshops in which artists and participants wrote poetry and made collages reflecting themes of women's rights, anti-slavery, and the Underground Railroad.  During the workshops, Park Historian Anne M. Derousie led a brief behind the  scenes tour of the house and of documents, artifacts, and personal letters from the museum collection, revealing family antislavery, Underground Railroad, and women's rights reform activities in the years leading up to the Civil War.


July's ARTS AFIRE! program, entitled "Postcards from the Past," featured the works of Texas Tech University Art professor Carol Flueckiger, whose previous work with historic letters from the museum collection incorporated painting, cyanotype, and other methods to reframe the past.  During the anniversary celebration of the 1848 First Woman's Rights Convention, Flueckiger presented a slide and performance piece and a gallery talk about her methods.  In three cyanotype workshops, participants worked with letters from William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, and members of the Richard Hunt family and leaves and fruits from historic trees from the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House to create their own postcard-sized reflections on rights and family.  Thirty-four participant artists created more than 100 postcards exhibited as a single group piece through the end of the month.


August's En Plein Air program featured artists Tom Hussey and Bev Lomardo of the Seneca County Arts Council, whose landscape works in a variety of media were displayed with artifacts from the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house and grounds.  The artists led a workshop in the art of En Plein Air painting, in which the artists and participants used the Stanton landscape as their subject.  The workshop included a talk and tour of the home and grounds focused especially on the use of the landscape by this women's rights reformer and her family.  


During the course of the three ARTS AFIRE! programs, five artists, six park staff members, three park interns or volunteers, and sixty-four participants participated in a total of three art shows, six receptions, two special programs, and six "curator corners."  Workshop participants, including descendants of attendees at the 1848 First Woman's Rights Convention, produced seven poems, ten collages, 145 cyanotype postcards, and eleven landscapes.  An unanticipated benefit was the donation by featured artists of original artworks, the basis for an ARTS AFIRE! collection documenting park resources for future generations.