The most powerful part of the future Central Park statue honoring women’s suffrage may not be the two figures it depicts.
Sculptor Meredith Bergmann’s design for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Movement Monument, the first statue of real women in the park, shows Anthony standing next to Stanton, who is seated and writing on a long scroll.
And on that scroll, there will be quotes in chronological order by other women involved in the fight for the right to vote, beginning in 1848, when Stanton organized the first women’s convention, until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Bergmann told amNewYork. Each of their names and the dates their quotes were said will also be included, she said.
The other women, including journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, help illustrate the diversity of women involved in the movement, which continued for years after the deaths of Stanton and Anthony, Bergmann said.
“They need to be included too,” she said, adding that she hopes the inclusion of more women will encourage viewers to look them up and learn more about their role in the suffrage movement.
For Coline Jenkins, the great-great granddaughter of Stanton and vice president of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund, the scroll will be the most impactful part of the sculpture.
“The scroll comes off the writing desk and approaches the viewer, which, to me, engages the viewer,” she said. “The power is in the words that the viewer will be able to read.”
The scroll ends at an open ballot box, with the word “VOTE,” on it, according to a model of the design, which was unveiled at the New-York Historical Society on July 19.
Bergmann’s winning design depicts Stanton and Anthony in their thirties, the age they were when they first started working together, the artist said. But the position they are in was inspired by a photograph of the two when they were older women, she said. In the final sculpture, Anthony will stand about 9 feet tall, she said.
Bergmann, who went to art school in New York City and lived in the city for about 40 years, also made the Boston Women’s Memorial, which was unveiled in 2003 and commemorates Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley and Lucy Stone. Her work also includes a Sept. 11 memorial in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the future FDR Hope Memorial on Roosevelt Island.
The Stanton and Anthony sculpture will be unveiled in Central Park’s Literary Walk in 2020, 100 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment.