An Artist is Covering Washington, D.C. With Portraits of Congresswomen

a sticker of nancy pelosi's portrait stuck to a light pole

If you pause on the corner of 14th Street and Park Road in Washington, D.C., you’ll spot something unexpected: the face of Nancy Pelosi.

Artist Stephanie Rudig has recently finished a project to paste a hand-drawn portrait of every female member of the 113th Congress around Washington, D.C. The project, called SHE-SPAN, aims to make women in Washington more visible and to draw attention to the gender imbalance among our representatives. As of this year, only 20 percent of federal representatives and senators are women.  

Rudig started the project in 2013, right in the midst of Congress debating whether health insurance should cover birth control. “It should have been an exciting moment—more women than ever before in Congress!” Rudig said. “But watching an all-male panel debate a women’s health issue, all I could think was that clearly there still weren’t enough.” Rudig started drawing a pen-and-ink portrait of every one of the 103 women in Congress. When the new Congress was inaugurated this January, Rudig made each portrait into a sticker and posted it publicly, usually on the Washington, D.C. street named after the politician’s home state. You can see a map of all the portraits here.

Now, as tourists gaze at the Washington Monument, their eyes might drop to see the smile of Washington District-1 Representative Suzan Delbene.

Related Reading: Two Artists Alter Public Signs to Spread a Guerrilla Message

Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media’s online editor. 

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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