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Exhibit To Celebrate Females In Government

Feb. 11, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt, Megan Buro

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black and white photo of a woman walking while holding hands with a small child
"Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison," by Melina Mara, from the Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. —Photo courtesy of Humanities Texas

The 2012 election ushered in a historical number of women into Congress, with 20 female senators being elected, or reelected.

In honor of the women of the 113th Congress, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum will present “Changing the Face of Power: Women in the U.S. Senate,” an art exhibition that will be in the Katy and E. Don Walker, Sr., Education Center beginning Feb. 19.

“Changing the Face of Power” is an exhibition of photographs by Melina Mara, who began photographing the 13 women in the U.S. Senate in 2001 and continuing as their number grew to 14 in 2003.

At a time when access to national politicians is increasingly controlled, Mara persuaded a majority of the senators to allow her to document the unprecedented role of women in the Senate, both behind the scenes and before microphones, according to Casey Room, curator of exhibits at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

“As a woman myself, I am always interested in topics that relate to women and ways to empower women of all ages,” Roon said. “The exhibit highlights women in our government, and how the role of women has changed over time. Though not widely celebrated or given the significance it possibly deserves, March is considered Women’s History Month; therefore we wanted to highlight women during the month of March.

“Though women may not have always held senate seats or other high-ranking political titles, women have always participated in the success of our nation,” she said. “First Lady of Texas Margaret Houston is a great example of this, as she solely ran the Houston farm and household while Sam occupied his senate seat in Washington, D.C., between 1846-1859. The stability the Margaret provided to the family allowed Sam to be a statesman.”

The exhibit opened at the Smithsonian Institution in 2003 and includes informative text provided by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas conducted interviews with 10 of the senators, which have been distilled into two audio presentations. A photography-based video presentation portrays exhibition images with narration by Mara.

“Changing the Face of Power: Women in the U.S. Senate” is produced by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin and is presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibit is made possible in part by “We the People” grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

It will be on display through March 22. The museum will host a preview reception on Feb. 18, from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Walker Education Center.

For more information about viewing hours or to arrange group visits, contact museum marketing coordinator Megan Buro at 936.294.3839 or Roon at 936.294.3292.



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