Artist Activist Abigail Gray Swartz and Rosie the Riveter in her knitted Pink Pussy Hat

Artist Activist Abigail Gray Swartz and Rosie the Riveter in her knitted Pink Pussy Hat

You may know Abigail Gray Swartz’s work.  She’s been getting a lot of attention lately because of her Rosie the Riveter cover on the New Yorker magazine.  But Rosie is a woman of color, and she’s sporting a knitted pink pussy cap. Swartz says of attending the march and producing the New Yorker cover,
“On the Monday following the (women’s) march, I started thinking about the art I wanted to make in response to my own experience, as well as the collective experience of women nationally and worldwide.

I adored seeing the images flooding in of the sea of women (and men) in pink hats. So much pink! I saw a headline from a newspaper that read “She the People” and I thought, “She The People: The revolution will be handmade.”

I started thinking how there was this effort on the part of women to create a symbol for the march. It felt reminiscent of World War II when women rationed silk stockings in order to have enough material for the soldiers’ parachutes. How women knit for the soldiers and filled in at the factories while the men were away at war. Just like how we are reclaiming the word “pussy,” the hat is also a symbol of our history in our country – we are knitting something for the new “war effort” to fight for our rights as women. We are knitting for ourselves.

I turned to Rosie as a symbol to convey the transformation we have taken from the times of WWII. I made Rosie a woman of color, because as an artist I feel it’s my job to paint diversity. I recently read how important it is for children, especially for children of color, to see images of Barack Obama in their schools.

So I concluded, why not give girls of color, and everyone for that matter, an image of a Rosie with brown skin? It was just a no-brainer – I want to paint Rosie as a symbol of the Women’s March and she should look like this.”

Print by Abigail Gray Swartz

Swartz says she is a “socially conscious person with a passion to help” and one way she does that is in lending her art to important causes.  She believes that it is important that activism begin at the local level—with your own neighborhood and community, and Swartz works to improve the safety and quality of life for new refugees, the LGBTQ community, and Black Lives Matter in Maine, where she now lives.

Article by Kelly McMichael