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October 23, 2018

Searching for the Goddess in Washington DC

By Meryl Ann Butler

Our day of searching for goddesses in Washington DC began on a promising note:

::::::::

I romped around DC last weekend with four of my fun-loving girlfriends on our way to a women's event at the National Mall. Our day began on a promising note: on the walk to the metro station we were greeted by this inspiring sidewalk art.

Sidewalk art in the Washington DC area
Sidewalk art in the Washington DC area
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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It was beautiful weather to walk around Washington, although we hadn't intended to walk quite as far as we did. The directions we had been given to our women's event were not complete, so it took us over an hour to find it. If you have been to the National Mall, which runs from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, you may remember that the distance from one end to the other is about two miles.

US National Mall (before the construction of the WW2 Monument, which is now on the grassy area seen here in front of the Washington Monument.)
US National Mall (before the construction of the WW2 Monument, which is now on the grassy area seen here in front of the Washington Monument.)
(Image by Public domain via wiki)
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On our trek we saw an Honor Flight group of WW2 veterans getting their photo taken at the WW2 Memorial, near the Washington Monument. According to the National WW2 Museum 16 million Americans, including over 400,000 women, served in WW2. In 2017, only 558,000 veterans remained, and over 360 of them die every day. (My late dad served in the Mediterranean, and he enjoyed an Honor Flight trip to the WW2 Memorial in 2010, which I wrote about on OpEdNews here.)

World War 2 Monument, National Mall and Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument
World War 2 Monument, National Mall and Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument
(Image by Public domain, courtesy wiki commons)
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We walked toward a large rally in progress at the Lincoln Memorial, but upon closer inspection, it was not the event we were looking for. When we finally found our event, it was ironic to note that towering over a plethora of feminine imagery was the juxtaposition of the erect and distinctly phallic Washington Monument.

Feminist gathering on the National Mall
Feminist gathering on the National Mall
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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The menacing point seemed appropriately symbolic of the current political climate. Ouch!

Washington Monument Above Trees
Washington Monument Above Trees
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
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Yet, just beyond that obelisk of patriarchy was the dome of the Capitol building, with the Statue of Freedom, sometimes called the Goddess of Freedom, perched at the architectural apex of Congress, regally presiding over the District of Columbia.

US Capitol west side
US Capitol west side
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
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Statue of Freedom - United States Capitol
Statue of Freedom - United States Capitol
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
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The statue is 19.5 feet tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. Her pedestal almost doubles her height. She was created in 1863, with most of the final onsite work done by a slave after the death of sculptor Thomas Crawford in Italy.

A full size plaster casting of the Statue of Freedom can be seen in the Capitol Visitor Center, which opened in 2008.

Plaster cast of the Statue of Freedom in Emancipation Hall  at the Capitol Visitor Center
Plaster cast of the Statue of Freedom in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center
(Image by Architect of the Capitol/US Government)
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Our Statue of Freedom is closely related to the symbol of Columbia, who was seen as the goddess of liberty and the personification of America's thirteen colonies. She was often depicted wearing a Phrygian cap, a symbol of freedom. The Latin etymology of the word "Columbia" connects it with the dove, and therefore with peace.

By the 1920's, the symbol of the Statue of Liberty became more well known, and Lady Columbia seemed to fade into history - or maybe she is with us still, subtly evolved into our beloved Wonder Woman!

Images of Columbia
Images of Columbia
(Image by Wiki Commons (Public Domain and CC 4.0))
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The nation's capitol is home to a wealth of other feminine statues. For instance, the east front of the House of Representatives building features the goddess, "Peace," as the focal point in the Apotheosis of Democracy. (For more exploration, a map of over 50 female statues in DC can be found here.)

'Peace,' stands as the focal point to the pediment of the Apotheosis of Democracy
'Peace,' stands as the focal point to the pediment of the Apotheosis of Democracy
(Image by wiki)
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At the end of our "wonder women" day all five of us crammed into a taxi to the metro station, with heads down so we wouldn't get pulled over by police for exceeding the legal limit of four passengers!

After we arrived at the metro station we enjoyed one of the highlights of the day -- a lonely fellow was standing at the metro entrance unsuccessfully trying to give away free hats. In spite of the fact that he gestured at dozens of passersby every minute, we noticed he had no takers. When we got closer we saw why.

As he tried to give each of us one of his hats, like the other passersby, we vehemently refused his entreaties. We all joked together and he laughed, and the look on his face revealed that he knew he was involved in an endeavor destined for failure.

Each of his hats proclaimed "Make America Great Again," and no one walking by was having any of it.

Patriarchy must be on its way out.



Submitters Website: http://www.OceanViewArts.com

Submitters Bio:

Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, 2013. In June, 2015, the combined views on her articles, diaries and quick link contributions topped one million. She was particularly happy that her article about Bree Newsome removing the Confederate flag was the one that put her past the million mark.

Her art in a wide variety of media can be seen on her YouTube video, "Visionary Artist Meryl Ann Butler on Creativity and Joy" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcGs2r_66QE

A NYC native, her response to 9-11 was to pen an invitation to healing through creativity, entitled, "90-Minute Quilts: 15+ Projects You Can Stitch in an Afternoon" (Krause 2006), which is a bestseller in the craft field. The sequel, MORE 90-Minute Quilts: 20+ Quick and Easy Projects With Triangles and Squares was released in April, 2011. Her popular video, How to Stitch a Quilt in 90 Minutes with Meryl Ann Butler can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrShGOQaJQ8

She has been active in a number of international, arts-related projects as a citizen diplomat, and was arts advisor to Baltimore's CIUSSR (Center for Improving US-Soviet Relations), 1987-89. She made two trips to the former USSR in 1987 and 1988 to speak to artists, craftpeople and fashion designers on the topic of utilizing the arts as a tool for global wellbeing. She created the historical "First US-Soviet Children's Peace Quilt Exchange Project" in 1987-88, which was the first time a reciprocal quilt was given to the US from the former USSR.

Her artwork is in collections across the globe.

Meryl Ann is a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and has been building labyrinths since 1992. She publishes an annual article about the topic on OpEdNews on World Labyrinth Day, the first Saturday in May.

Find out more about Meryl Ann's artistic life in "OEN Managing Ed, Meryl Ann Butler, Featured on the Other Side of the Byline" at https://www.opednews.com/Quicklink/OEN-Managing-Ed-Meryl-Ann-in-Life_Arts-Artistic_Artists_Quilt-170917-615.html

On Feb 11, 2017, Senior Editor Joan Brunwasser interviewed Meryl Ann in Pink Power: Sister March, Norfolk, VA at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Pink-Power-Sister-March--by-Joan-Brunwasser-Pussy-Hats-170212-681.html

"Creativity and Healing: The Work of Meryl Ann Butler" by Burl Hall is at
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Creativity-and-Healing--T-by-Burl-Hall-130414-18.html

Burl and Merry Hall interviewed Meryl Ann on their BlogTalk radio show, "Envision This," at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/envision-this/2013/04/11/meryl-ann-butler-art-as-a-medicine-for-the-soul

Archived articles www.opednews.com/author/author1820.html
Older archived articles, from before May 2005 are here.


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