One year ago, millions of women took to the streets of our nation’s capital and other major cities around the world wearing pinks hats, carrying posters and raising their voices. They were advocating for women’s rights, immigration and heath-care reform, among other issues. Since the Women’s March on Washington, much has changed. More women are running for political office; nearly 80 are planning to run for governor in 2018 alone. There are more advocates for racial equality and workers’ rights. And #MeToo has started its own movement against sexual harassment.
We asked female illustrators across the country to create original artwork for The Washington Post that expresses their feelings as the anniversary of the march approached. Each commented on the movement and how much has evolved in one year.
Gayle Kabaker Ashfield, Mass.
“Art affects people. It can make them think or feel something that they might not feel otherwise. People tell me my art can make them feel better or happy. So if in these dark times art can be a light of inspiration for people, then this is an important thing. I want to use my art to help bring awareness to how important it is to vote.”
Lauren Tamaki Brooklyn; born in Canada
“Women should be in charge of our own reproductive health — when, how and if we have a family. One of the mightiest proponents of this truth is my best friend, who happens to be the mother of two girls. I chose to depict this timeless image of her breast-feeding to represent this anniversary of the Women’s March. Breast-feeding is [still] contentious: It’s a representation of the power of women’s bodies and what we choose to do with them.”
Lizzie Gill Brooklyn
“Art and design play an integral role in the movement. From the brilliant, handmade signs of protest and support to the viral sharing of the Pussy Hat Project, which made sewing, knitting and crochet patterns available worldwide to aid marchers in making a united visual statement.”
Maggie Chiang Los Angeles
“The women’s movement represents equal rights for everyone, a movement for everyone to be able to speak up about the inequalities in our society and fight for a better future for all genders. With so much conflict and pessimism in the last year, this movement has given a lot of people a voice and hope.”
Shyama Golden Brooklyn
“The women’s movement is intertwined with civil rights, and to me it’s about equality and giving all people a fair chance. Specifically, this means representation of women in positions of power and working to unlearn biases against women. It also means solidarity, both among women and together with other groups who are fighting for equality.”
Jade Schulz Baltimore
“Until recently, expected female archetypes have been objects of desire or maternal figures. TV writers like Shonda Rhimes offer complex female characters that have not really existed before. Stand-up comedians Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman offer women the opportunity to tell their story completely from their holistic perspective. Even in publications, illustrations of women of diverse shapes and colors accompany stories related to politics, tech and finance because there are more working female illustrators and art directors.”
Libby VanderPloeg Grand Rapids, Mich.
“The women’s movement is why I’m able to get an education, to vote, to make decisions about my body and to choose the path in life that best suits my ambitions. I’m so grateful for all the women whose hope motivated them to imagine and fight for a fairer, more inclusive future.”
Jenny Kroik New York City; born in Russia
“Before the 2016 election, talking about politics in social situations was considered rude or uncool. But in the last year, I feel that people started to really see the connection between politics and their own lives, and political conversations became more commonplace.”
Erin Robinson Brooklyn
“The women’s movement is a feminine force of strength and sisterhood. It’s female comrades with a mission of bringing equality and protection. It’s voices that will not turn down its powerful volume or message. [And] the art I’ve come across for the women’s movement does just that — it makes the voices loud and clear.”
Kelsey Dake Phoenix
“It’s very easy to feel helpless and like you’re the only woman facing adversity, so to be reminded by large gatherings like the Women’s March and #MeToo that you’re not alone is really important when it comes to not getting burnt out or jaded. Women are feeling confident speaking up and out about injustice they face across the board, and it’s really beginning to reshape our culture and the ways we all interact with one another.”
Lydia Ortiz New York City; born in Manila
“The women’s movement empowered me as a woman of color. It gave me a community to belong to a platform to speak out on, and it made me part of a larger collective voice. It also made me realize my responsibility to get out there, participate and get involved with women’s issues.”
Hanna Barczyk Brooklyn; born in Germany
“Over the last year, we have seen more unity between women and a broader societal awareness of the obstacles that women face — in the workplace, but also in their individual lives. The movement has given women permission to share their voices and not be afraid. More importantly, it has brought women’s private oppression into the public eye and forced society to listen.”
Kelly Bjork Seattle
“The word ‘movement’ is problematic because more marginalized groups have been dealing with this ‘movement’ their entire lives, and this is not a new fight for them. But it is wonderful to see people finding their voices and having a space to speak out on injustices.”
Mai Ly Degnan Baltimore
“To me, art also works as a unifier. You don’t need words to explain an image. Like the Women’s March, art helps get the word out through visual communication. I’ve been so proud to have had the opportunity to create art featuring strong women supporting one another. It’s important to me, as an illustrator, to find ways to voice my opinions and beliefs through what I draw. With imagery comes education.”
Chioma Ebinama from Brooklyn, Nigerian American
“We’re building a new vision of our future. If a building is to be formidable, we need a strong foundation. The stories we share are our foundation. Art is a space to offer new narratives. Unfortunately, art today, in its many forms, is still very white, very male, and very hetero. The art world has a responsibility to make room for the voices that are rarely heard and need to be heard.”