University Galleries Celebrates Women’s Suffrage Movement and Ratification of 19th Amendment with Works by Women from Its Permanent Collection

The William Paterson University Galleries presents an exhibition of works from its permanent collection created by women artists to mark the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted many—but not all—American women the right to vote. The exhibition, titled The Weight of the Body: Selections from the Permanent Collection, will be on view to University students, faculty, and staff in the Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts at William Paterson University from August 31 through November 13, 2020. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. University students, faculty, and staff will be limited to one hour in the gallery, and only members of one group or pod may be present in the gallery at one time.

Admittance will be first-come, first-served and University community members will be required to observe the following protocols. All individuals will be required to participate in a self-administered health screening including a temperature check prior to their arrival, wear a face covering, provide contact information, and social distance. Please refer to WP’s Reopening Plan for additional details. Admission is free and open only to the William Paterson community until further notice. A virtual presentation of the exhibition is forthcoming. Both University community members and the general public may request a virtual tour of the exhibition by contacting Emily Johnsen, gallery manager, at

Through paintings, prints, and artists’ books, the artists included in the exhibition challenge traditional gender roles and societal norms while addressing the dialogues between issues of gender, race, sexuality, and class. In this way, the University Galleries honors the women’s suffrage movement for its role in advancing the social momentum for subsequent critiques of dominant power structures including the feminist movement, the women’s liberation movement, the civil rights movement, and the LGBTQIA+ movement. The traveling poster exhibition Rightfully Hers from the National Archives will be on view alongside the artworks to ground them within this longer historical arc of women speaking truth to power.

The title of the exhibition takes its name from a work included by artist Michal Reed. The Weight of the Body (1995) is an accordion-bound book that uses data visualizations, linguistics, and photography to lay bare some of the stark realities of life after divorce as the artist interrogates the concept of an “honest woman” as it pertains to a woman’s physical agency, social status, and self-worth. Anatomy and the female body, race, and text emerge as consistent sub-themes within this group of work. Clarissa Sligh’s Reading Dick and Jane with Me (1989) captures the artist’s reactions to the canonical children’s book as a person of color. Adrian Piper’s artist’s book Pretend (1990) examines the audience’s implicit racial bias and asks readers to “pretend not to know what you know.”  

This exhibition also highlights significant recent donations accepted by the University Galleries in the last year. Artist Rodríguez Calero donated a collection of 48 posters and works on paper documenting Puerto Rican and Nuyorican printmaking in San Juan and New York City from 1960 to 2001. A poster created by Isabel Bernal (b. 1935) and another created by the artist and donor herself are included. Artist Lucille Nurkse donated two works from her collection of major feminist artists—both on display in this exhibition—by May Stevens (1924-2019) and Joan Snyder (b. 1940).

Additional artists selected include Patricia Cudd, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, Tracey Emin, Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Robin Kahn and Sarah Blake, Catherine LeCleire, Kimberly Loewe and Jill Spector, Margot Lovejoy, Debra Pearlman, Erena Rae, Michelle Ray and A.B. Gorham, Carol Rosen, Stella Waitzkin, Anne Wilson and Sally Alatalo, Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson, and Janet Zweig.

Concurrently, the University Galleries will present an online-only exhibition of faculty work. Information can be found at

This exhibition is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The William Paterson University Galleries are wheelchair-accessible. Large-print educational materials are available. For additional information, please call the William Paterson University Galleries at 973-720-2654.