Chicago Tribune, Thursday, April 8, 1999, McHenry County Briefing, WOODSTOCK, IL

Artist elects to focus on history of U.S. voter rights

By Barbara Iehl

Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood and Woodstock artist Nancy Steinmeyer share an appreciation of the right to vote and the struggles endured by segments of our society to obtain that right.

Steinmeyer's "The Art of Casting a Vote," a series of three unique constructions that trace the evolution of voter right in the United States, hang outside Wood's Chicago office in the State of Illinois Building. They focus on the women's suffrage movement, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam voting amendment.

Wood first encountered Steinmeyer's three-dimensional paper relief sculptures at the Old Court House Arts Center gallery in Woodstock last September while campaigning for office.

"These pieces offer a powerful message through a medium not tied to politics," Wood said while meeting with Steinmeyer Wednesday morning.

Paul Wood purchased one of the pieces, "The Spirits of Women's Suffrage," as a Christmas present for his wife. Earlier this year, all three pieces, which also include "Civil Rights, an Old Battle," and "An Adult Decision," were moved from the Board of Elections Building to the State of Illinois Building.

"The Spirits of Women's Suffrage" focuses on the struggles of , women who worked to gain the right to vote, seen through a screen painting of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton overlaid on a paper-relief sculpture of a young woman holding her 18-month-old daughter while standing in a voting booth.

"If the piece had stayed in my home, no one would see it," Wood said. "Everyone who comes to this floor sees these pieces."

Steinmeyer and Wood want to remind citizens it is a privilege to vote. "If more people vote, we would have better elected officials," Wood said. "These pieces of art take us back to basics. We take so much for granted, we don't realize how fortunate we are in this country."

Steinmeyer created the pieces for an exhibit at the Sears Tower in Chicago in 1996 when the city hosted the Democratic National Convention. Though she originally planned to create something funny for the exhibit, she changed her mind after researching the topic of voter rights.

"I learned that the history of gaining the right to vote is extremely rich," Steinmeyer said. "People died for the right to vote. I realized I couldn't make fun of their struggles. It took 55 years for women to get the right to vote. Blacks fought for almost 100 years for the privilege."


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