The project will include ten portraits, each in triptych format. As in the painting of Pauli Murray, the portraits will be in a tromp l’oeil frame. Two smaller panels will be on each side of the central portrait, creating a triptych. The side panels will be calligraphed with pithy and/or revealing morsels by or about each woman.
I have not completed the calligraphy for the side panels of Pauli Murray’s portrait, but this mock-up of the triptych for Pauli with the side panel texts is the pattern I will follow for all of the portrait triptychs:
The texts on Pauli’s side panels summarize two major contributions her thinking and law papers have made to legislation on human rights. The panel from 1944 is a quote from her last year law paper at Howard University. At the time, Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights lawyers were unsuccessful in finding ways to overturn Plessey vs. Ferguson, the law that justified school segregation based on “separate but equal.” Her argument about arbitrary limits of personal rights in the public sphere made clear that the limitation of equal rights was due to singling out a category of persons, ie by race, instead of limitation due to unlawful behavior. The 1964 Civil Rights Act again built on Pauli’s argument and women were included in the protection of equal rights in the public sphere.
On the wall of my studio I have posted gallery of possible women to portray.