“Speak Up, Speak Out” by Sarah Ann Smith
This is one in a series of posts featuring an artist whose work is included in the Threads of Resistance exhibition.
During the 2016 election debates in autumn, I became angry that the Republican kept saying, “Make America great again,” meaning he felt our nation wasn’t great. I kept shouting back at the TV, “America is already great, let’s make it even better.” I began sketching a protest quilt to be surrounded by hands, with words and phrases.
Fast forward to Jan. 21, 2017, when I traveled from Maine to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. On the way down, I asked riders on our charter bus to trace their hands for me to use in an art quilt, and every hand that was traced is on the quilt. At the march, I finally realized what would be in the center: us, the people at the march, democracy made manifest. I took a zillion photos and selected phrases and signs to use. Though the Women’s March image has become iconic and ubiquitous, it is my personal story, too (that’s me on the far right). In the background, I stitched the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, the four freedoms in the First Amendment, and more phrases. I have never been overtly political… until now. As a former U.S. Foreign Service officer (diplomat) and federal employee, we were not allowed to participate in politics. Well those days are over!
It is time to Speak UP, Speak OUT, and PARTICIPATE in our democracy, and yes, I am shouting. I am starting by volunteering for my tiny, rural town of Hope, Maine. What will you do? How will you speak out to defend the progress of the past 75 years against the current onslaught? We made history on Jan. 21 at the peaceful and outspoken Women’s March on Washington. The individuals of our nation are what make our government and our democracy. Work together! PARTICIPATE! Especially, write to your elected representatives at every level from town to national, and VOTE. We will not be silenced. WE ARE the People!
Hear a message from Sarah about her piece below: