City of Cambridge Reopens Search for Public Art to Commemorate the 19th Amendment Centennial and the Voting Rights Movement

The City of Cambridge today announced it is reopening its search to create a permanent public artwork to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women in the United States winning the right to vote. The public artwork will celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 and recognize Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, and other women of color who were excluded from access to voting rights, even as many fought in the movement.

Details of the new search process will be announced in early 2021. The City is reopening the selection process because it strongly believes that commissioning a public artwork that honors women’s suffrage and highlights the contributions of women of color who have often been overlooked in the history of the movement requires a selection process that successfully recruits artists of all races. The City also aims for the project to incorporate our country’s ongoing struggle for voting rights and to highlight the contradictions in the story of the 19th Amendment.

In the months since the 23-member 19th Amendment Centennial Art Selection Committee recommended that Cambridge artist Azra Aksamija’s proposal be built at the Cambridge Common, the artist and the City have discussed the lack of diversity among the original applicant pool and the importance of commissioning proposals by artists of all races. The importance of this component of the process has been underscored by the current movements and conversations on how to address racial inequities and systemic racism.

In collaboration with Azra Aksamija, the City of Cambridge arrived at the decision to revise and relaunch the selection process. Azra Aksamija’s artwork, “The Future to be Rewritten,” was selected out of four finalists’ proposals. The four artist-finalists had been chosen by an art jury from 694 portfolios in the City’s public art registry in late 2019. The City provided funding to each finalist to develop a concept proposal. The proposals were reviewed during public meetings and an extensive public feedback period.

“Regardless of the approach we try to take, we will not be able to get around the core of the problem: that BIPOC artists were not adequately represented in the competition,” said Azara Aksamija in deciding to withdraw her proposal. “I am honoured that my proposal was initially chosen, and I am really grateful to the City of Cambridge for this opportunity!”

The City extends great appreciation and thanks to Azra Aksamija, all the participating artists, the art jurors, the Centennial Committee, the Art Selection Committee, and the members of the public who have been so dedicated to developing this public art project.

Page was posted on 11/13/2020 12:43 PM
Page was last modified on 11/13/2020 12:44 PM
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