Mammoth mural in Salt Lake City inspires awe, celebrates ‘character, impact’ of Utah women

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 26, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — There’s a huge celebration underway in downtown Salt Lake City — a celebration that’s larger than life and has been a century in the making.

It’s in the form an awe inspiring mural called “Utah Women 2020” — a 5,000-square-foot public art piece commissioned by Zions Bank and “unveiled” Wednesday, Aug. 26, to mark the 100th anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.

Internationally-known pop-artist Jann Haworth, a longtime Salt Lake City resident, co-designer for the album cover of The Beatles’ famed “Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band,” got a little help from her friends — 178 of them, to be exact — in completing the year-long project. Haworth’s son, Salt Lake artist Alex Johnstone, was her partner and guiding force in coordinating and executing the all encompassing effort.

‘Utah Women 2020’ mural located at 37 West 100 South in downtown Salt Lake City. Image: Jann Haworth/Alex Johnstone

The mural celebrates a cast of colorful characters whose lives span the history and geography of the Beehive State, including the likes of Olympian Logan Tom, seen diving for a volleyball; pediatric surgeon Rebecka Meyers, peering down through surgical loupes; and painter Edie Roberson soaring above the crowd.

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

The project began with community-led workshops in which participants were guided in creating stencil portraits from photographic images,” according to Zions Bank. “When the series of in-person workshops — which took place at locations from YWCA Utah in Salt Lake City to Granary Arts in Ephraim — was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, the mural team created an online tutorial and launched a statewide call to Utahns who were at home and willing to participate.

“Haworth also enlisted the help of national and international artists — most of whom were on lockdown at the time — to compose 24 additional portraits. In total, more than 175 artists contributed to the mural.”

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

Haworth and Johnstone photographed the painted stencil portraits, then sized and digitally arranged the images into a collage, which was printed on nine 10-by-55-foot vinyl mesh banners.

“This mural is for me, the most extraordinary of my career because of the arc of time during which it is being made,” Haworth said. “I believe that this gives it another level of historical significance that is a tribute to the 200-plus people who made the mural.”

Speaking at the opening Wednesday, Haworth said: “There are 1.5 million women in Utah who are not on this mural; that would take a number of years to actually do justice to the talent and diversity and amazing nature of this state. But as Scott (Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO) says, we tried to cover different areas in the representation here.

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

“The mural is about a tenth of the size of an American football field. It’s 5,000 square feet. There are 268 representations on this mural, and a few doubles. Two hundred and fifty women plus are represented here. A hundred and seventy eight people worked on this mural; about 30 of those were professional artists; the rest are community members, many of them untrained, they have no artistic experience. They jumped in to doing a mural, not really knowing if they could.”

She added: “This mural is speaking in silence, and it’s speaking about democracy. It’s speaking about inclusion, and about diversity. It’s speaking about our present condition; it’s speaking about the mistakes that are here, about the fact that democracy is a work in progress. It always is changing and having to respond to new conditions.”

One difficulty in designing the artwork was identifying which women to include, the news release said. The women depicted were selected through a democratic process, reflecting a diversity of characters and contributions. Two faces were intentionally left blank to allow observers to place the faces of women important to them — or themselves — in the mural.

A long-time supporter of the arts as well as a champion of women in leadership, Anderson asked Haworth to create the mural to celebrate the impact of Utah women. The idea was first suggested in spring 2019 and has been a full-time job for Haworth and Johnstone since February of this year.

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

“Zions Bank has long recognized the value women add to our communities,” Anderson said by way of the news release. “On the day Zions Bank opened in 1873, four of the 15 depositors listed on the original ledger were women. Despite the mural’s enormous size, it represents only a snapshot of the decades-long leadership and impact of Utah women.”

Anderson said in his remarks Wednesday: “This Utah Women 2020 mural is a visual representation of the collective impact of the women of Utah. Their pioneering spirit has extended beyond crossing the plains, beyond making the desert bloom as a rose, beyond raising a family on the frontier. It has extended to women’s rights, and the remarkable achievement of women in all lines of life.”

He added: “I hope when you look at the 250-plus faces in this mural, you will see them as representing all the women in Utah, the past women, the current women, and I hope as you look at the young children in this mural you’ll see the face of the future.”

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

Gov. Gary Herbert, who was also at the unveiling, said: “Abraham Lincoln said everything that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother. I think of my own mother and her efforts to raise children, and she was the one that said to me, ‘Make sure you’re a good boy and vote.’ And I’ve never missed voting, ever in my life, in large part because of my mother instilling that to me. I appreciate the mothers in our lives … today as we gather and recognize the importance of women in our lives, the impact it’s had, certainly I’m proud of Utah, the first state, or territory at the time, in the union, to have women vote.”

For more information about the mural click here.

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