Voices From The Garden

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The Virginia Women’s Monument is Dedicated on October 14

Seven bronze statues of women were unveiled at nation’s first monument 

honoring the full scope of women’s contributions & achievements.

Historic Virginia women in bronze assembled on Capitol Square in Richmond to share their stories and have their voices be heard across four centuries of Virginia history. Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument was dedicated on Monday, October 14.

Following the National Anthem by members of the Richmond Symphony Chorus led by Lisa Fusco of VCU and an invocation by Rev. Emily Edmondson of Christ Episcopal Church in Marion, Va., the dedication ceremony featured remarks from Governor Ralph S. Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam; The Honorable Mary Margaret Whipple, vice chair of the Women’s Monument Commission; The Honorable Ryan T. McDougle (R-District 4), member of the Women’s Monument Commission; The Honorable Susan Clarke Schaar, Clerk of the Senate and member of the Women’s Monument Commission; Ivan Schwartz, founder of StudioEIS and lead sculptor of the monument; and Dr. Lauranett Lee, member of the Capitol Square Preservation Council and professor of leadership studies at the University of Richmond. A musical tribute was provided by Joyce Johnson Rouse, who sang “Standing on the Shoulders,” and closing remarks were provided by Susan Allen, chair of the Virginia Capitol Foundation and former First Lady of Virginia. 

“For far too long, we have overlooked the transformative contributions of women and other underrepresented groups to the history of this country and this Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam in his welcoming remarks. “I am proud that with the addition of this women’s monument to Capitol Square, we are finally telling a more inclusive and complete story about Virginia. We will continue fighting to expand opportunities for women and ensure real gender equality in the Commonwealth.”  

Girl Scouts representing the three councils in the Commonwealth unveiled seven bronze statues at the dedication: Cockacoeske, Pamunkey chieftain; Anne Burras Laydon, Jamestown colonist; Mary Draper Ingles, frontierswoman; Elizabeth Keckly, dressmaker and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln; Laura Copenhaver, entrepreneur in the textile industry; Virginia Randolph, educator; Adèle Clark, suffragist and artist. More statues will be added as they are funded and completed.

The Virginia Women’s Monument is the nation’s first on the grounds of any state capitol to showcase the full range of achievements and contributions made by remarkable women in a variety of fields and endeavors. When completed, the monument’s life-size bronze statues, along with a Wall of Honor inscribed with the names of 230 notable women and room to add more names in the future, will help tell the whole story about the diversity of accomplishments, ethnicity and thought that shaped the Commonwealth of Virginia over the past 400 years. 

More than $3.7 million has been raised through generous contributions by individuals, corporations and nonprofit foundations; to date, approximately $100,000 is still needed to complete the monument. The granite plaza and the Wall of Honor were unveiled in October 2018. Each bronze statue required a financial investment of $200,000 in order to be commissioned for sculpting by the talented team of artisans, both men and women, at StudioEIS in Brooklyn, N.Y.   

For more information about the Virginia Women’s Monument, visit http://womensmonumentcom.virginia.gov.