LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4)– Inside Jane DeDecker’s art studio in Loveland, often untold history comes to life.
“Women have been erased for all kinds of reasons,” she said.
DeDecker was asked by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to create a statue commemorating the early chapters in the story of women’s right to vote. It is a so-called sister statue of DeDecker’s piece honoring the women’s suffrage movement, Every Word We Utter, which will soon be installed in the nation’s capital. This second statue-in-the-works will be placed in Seneca Falls, New York – the birthplace of the women’s rights movement.
“I’ll include Harriet Tubman, Martha Coffin Wright, Sojourner Truth,” DeDecker said of her latest piece.
In every fine, handcrafted detail, DeDecker is also telling the story of a woman most have likely never heard of before – Laura Cornelius Kellogg, a Native American leader and activist of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
“They’re the untold story of the suffrage movement,” DeDecker said.
Born in the late 1800s, Kellogg used her voice to fight against the American government’s efforts to erase Native American culture. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s people, government, and land were led by women, and Kellogg was a key spark in the fight for women’s rights.
“The Haudenosaunee women played a very important role in the movement,” Diane Schenandoah, a Haudenosaunee artist from the Oneida Nation, explained. “When the [American] women saw the influence the Haudenosaunee women had among their government, they wanted it. That’s even how the movement started.”
Schenandoah, a sculptor from New York, is working side by side with DeDecker to help mold the towering sculpture of Kellogg. DeDecker invited her to Colorado for a very special reason.
“I really wanted not just her expertise, but her spirit and her connection,” DeDecker explained. “She’s family to Laura, and to me, that’s so important.”
“She’s is one of my ancestors,” Schenandoah said as she carefully carved detailed beadwork for Kellogg’s statue. “It’s really an honor to be here and to channel her and her image and her likeness into this piece. Jane has been very gracious making sure how accurate she is and we have her as close as possible.”
DeDecker titled the new piece Ripples of Change, and it’s her hope the statue will inspire women for generations to come and shine a light on the shadowed history.
“The idea behind this sculpture is when you throw four individual stones into water, they each create their own ripple but eventually they coalesce into one large ripple,” she said. “So this piece is based on those sort of individual things that we can do and they had done, that sort of coalesced into women’s equality.”
For Schenandoah, the larger-than-life sculpture is the story of her family, her culture, and four influential women who gave us all hope for a better tomorrow.
“It’s definitely an untold story that needs to be told,” she said.
Ripples of Change is expected to make its debut in Seneca Falls later this year.