Marissa Burns | Lesley University, 2020

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From "The Future of the Past" Series

Marissa Burns, IDA, Watercolor, 2020, 6"
Marissa Burns, IDA, Watercolor, 2020, 6"

"My work for "Unfinished Business: The Complicated History of Voting Rights in America" represents activist women in the past and present. These women winning the right to vote paved the way for other women to lead future revolutions. The suffragette movement was the first act of towards enabling women’s right to and ownership of their own bodies, life choices and independence. Our country has always been divided. Although the United States has come a long way since the days of the Suffragettes, we are still at odds against race, class, and gender going into the 2020 election. The pieces I’ve made show the determination of the women who have come before me who were at a much greater disadvantage, and of those who are continuing the fight. The fight for a universal right to vote for all women was a lengthy one, as even after the 19th amendment was passed, black voters were subject to violence and discrimination at voting poles, specifically in the South. It took the government another forty five years to make a clause against it, in 1965. Although some of said violence has stopped, we can still identify gerrymandering, unfair voting times in poor areas, and white supremacy protests as a form to deter women and other disadvantaged voters in the United States. My work depicts different eras of women’s activism. Ranging the past 100 years, I show women fighting and continuing to take action for their rights. The last public words leading suffragist Inez Miholland spoke before her untimely death were, “Mr. President, how long must we wait for liberty?!” Her question years later has yet to be answered, her words ring true today. Sexism, misogyny, and violence against women are still real issues as we embark in the new decade of 2020. Although women have many more opportunities than they did in 1920, we still have a long way to go. To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote, I would like to honor the Suffragettes, Civil Rights Matriarchs, and Native American activists that have built the path for future generations rights today. So many women fought for my right to vote and I am forever grateful for their perseverance. This is an homage to them."

~ Marissa Burns

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Artist Bio

Marissa Burns is a painter living in Somerville Massachusetts. She has studied at the Art Students League in New York, and received her BA from Wells College in 2013. Her recent exhibition history includes We Went Looking For Crows, Essex Art Center, A Day Without Art, Boston Center for the Arts, Violence Transformed, Lesley University, Art in Bloom, MFA, Grey Gallery,publications from Girl Love, Gambling the Aisle, and Middle Gray Magazine. She is currently working on a new watercolor project focusing on feminism in watercolor.

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