Art students from the University of Jamestown have been putting together an art display of work centering on women’s suffrage.

It’s an area of study close to the hearts of most women and people who consider human rights to be just that: equal rights for all persons.

The State Historical Society of North Dakota has, as one of its 2020 objectives, to present women’s suffrage displays at its historical sites as well as the Heritage Center in Bismarck. Schools and universities are following suit. Area schools as well as UJ’s art department will commemorate “Women’s Suffrage” (as well as “Civil and Human Rights”) as themes for the 2020 school year.

Fargo artists and students have a civil rights art display showing concurrently with the Salvador Dali “Stairway to Heaven” exhibit at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo. Like all passionate expression, some of the work is geared more toward adult visuals. Accompanying text explains many pieces and allows the viewer to get into the mindset of the artist. Wherever human rights are discussed or exhibits show this year, it will have some powerful messages. Anyone who’s been on the “you’re not included because you’re different” end of human rights will feel the jab of seeing how being exception feels and what it’s like to be left out.

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News providers across the country this year will have columns and stories on civil rights, human rights and women’s suffrage. It is, after all, the 100th year since women were given the right to vote via the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

We all have stories of women in our families who voted for the first time, their fears, the problems they faced, and the feelings of equality when they were able to cast a vote for the first time. Not all artwork is meant to be “pretty or decorative.” Visual expression is the artist’s idea translated into an understood language.

During a Christmas event last month I met a lady from Lithuania. She spoke about her mother’s arrival here in Jamestown, how she became a U.S. citizen and was able to vote. It was quite moving. That day she walked through the structure where her mom became a citizen of the United States and where she was given the right as a woman to vote for the first time. Those hearing her story were moved to tears.

It is stories like hers that in 2020 will be included in commemorative art exhibits throughout the United States.

UJ will open its spring student art exhibit Monday, March 23, in the lobby of the Reiland Fine Arts Center. Following commencement May 8, the women’s suffrage pieces will be shown at the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse, where it will be a part of the State Historical Society of North Dakota’s Citizenship display throughout 2020’s summer months.