Portrait of Progress to honor Women’s Suffrage Centennial

Artist Suzanne Benton with her portrait of Alice Paul.

Artist Suzanne Benton with her portrait of Alice Paul.

Tina Sarno / Contributed photo

They marched…and freedom prevailed. In honor of the 2020 Women’s Suffrage Centennial, twenty-three artists from Fairfield County and beyond have joined together for a year-long Portrait Project featuring the working women in Ridgefield’s Town Hall who often work behind the scenes. Included along with their portraits will be one of the pioneer suffragist and author of the Equal Right Amendment, Alice Paul.

A former Ridgefield resident, she represents the many Ridgefield feminist activists, past and present, who continue to spark change. The Portrait Project celebrates women’s progress from the voting booth to Town Hall as women have grown to play an important role in government on all levels. The women’s movement in America has evolved from its earliest days of the first suffrage movement. Ridgefield’s Portrait of Progress will recognize and celebrate the vital and equal roles women now play in creating a vibrant Ridgefield community.

Long-time Ridgefield resident and feminist activist and artist Suzanne Benton was inspired by the 2020 centennial of women’s suffrage and by the example of Rose Frantzen’s paintings of 180 portraits of her hometown residents in Maquoketa, Iowa. In that spirit, Suzanne has invited 23 artists to create a collaborative portrait of the working women in Ridgefield’s Town Hall. Each artist will produce an individual portrait in her/his own unique style and medium that captures the soul and energy of each woman working for the town of Ridgefield. The portraits will be mounted together as a single artwork and donated as a permanent installation to the town of Ridgefield. The project reaches its finale at Town Hall as the artists formally present their gift to the town in September 2020.

Artists will paint, sketch and photograph their subjects throughout the year at Town Hall and at various artists’ studios. There will be an exhibition of the completed portraits of Ridgefield’s working women at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center’s Carriage Barn in August 2020. Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center is notable for its passion to connect contemporary life to our shared history.

Members of the Portrait Project are working closely with Ridgefield’s First Selectman Rudy Marconi to inspire all 23 of Town Hall’s working women to join the project intended to honor them and to represent all women whose efforts - though often not fully recognized - are vital to the inner workings of our towns, cities, states and country.

For updated activities and more information about this project please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ridgefield-Suffrage-Centennial-110077767009312/?modal=admin_todo_tour or contact Alice Hayes at alicehayes.43@gmail.com.