Women's Centennial Sculpture at the Y

During Women's History Month, we celebrate the vital role women play in American history. We are proud to be home to the new Women's Centennial Sculpture along the river at the SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA. August 18, 2020, marked 100 years to the day that the 19th Amendment was ratified, recognizing women’s right to vote. On October 31, 2020, the Women’s Centennial Sculpture was dedicated, Rockford’s first public art installation honoring women and celebrating that momentous achievement.

The sculpture was undertaken by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 committee (WSC2020), a coalition of civic and women’s advocacy organizations, along with WNIJ. Susan Burton, mosaic artist from Marseilles, IL, guided the project. Over 125 people in our community—children, adults, and seniors—have worked on this project so far, learning about mosaic and the women’s suffrage movement while cutting tiles, filing edges, and strategically placing the pieces. For an in-depth look at this process, please visit Womanspace on Facebook to enjoy a compelling video review.

The Women’s Centennial Sculpture 2020 design includes a three-panel tower and six surrounding benches. One panel depicts Rockford suffragist, Kate F. O’Connor, who worked tirelessly in the early part of the century for extending voting rights to women. The second panel features inspirational Rockford educator and activist Dr. Connie Goode, representing the many women of color who marched and advocated in the 1960s for broadening the vote to include, by enforcement of the law, all people of color. The third panel depicts our future—four young women representing different cultures and ethnicities who now freely exercise the power of their voice and their vote. The six mosaic benches surrounding the central tower, to be installed in Spring 2021, will continue the visual narrative of suffrage, celebrate Rockford’s unique landmarks, and serve as seating in this dynamic gathering space.