Sculpture to be built in Rockford, educational events planned throughout 2020

ROCKFORD — A group of women on Wednesday announced plans to erect a large mosaic sculpture in the city celebrating the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote.

The sculpture could be 12 to 14 feet tall and 22 to 26 feet in diameter, and could cost between $60,000 and $75,000, said Elaine Hirschenberger, executive director of Womanspace. She is a member of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Northern Illinois Celebration steering committee, which is organizing efforts for the sculpture to be dedicated on Aug. 18 as well as educational and artistic events throughout 2020.

A location has not been decided yet, but Hirschenberger said the group is talking with Rockford Park District about a possible place for the sculpture. The 18-member steering committee is asking for donations to erect the public art piece.

The sculpture will feature a white woman — Kate O’Connor, a Rockford native and an original suffragist — a woman of color, and three multicultural children, Hirschenberger said. Six to eight mosaic benches will surround the sculpture where visitors can sit.

Susan Burton of Marseilles is the artist who will create the sculpture.

Programs in schools and libraries will seek to expand awareness of roles played by a diversity of women who struggled for the right to vote. Other activities throughout the year will include: costumed suffragists marching in parades, book discussions, podcasts, art contests and movie showings. A women’s march will be on Jan. 18 downtown.

“This is a time for the community to come together to remember this momentous occasion,” Rosemary Collins, a retired judge said as emcee for the Wednesday event at City Hall announcing the sculpture and other events. “But we still have a long road to travel,” she said, noting wage disparities between women and men as an example.

For more information, call Hirschenberger at 815-877-0118.

Georgette Braun: 815-987-1331;; @georgettebraun

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