“Let’s Have Tea” by Pepsy M. Kettavong
This sculpture of women’s suffragist Susan B. Anthony and abolitionist Frederick Douglass sitting together over a table setting was created in 2001 by sculptor Pepsy M. Kettavong and is located in downtown Rochester at the Susan B. Anthony Square between Madison and King Street. This sculpture is a touching tribute to and memorial of the friendship Douglass and Anthony shared, bonded by their devotion to their causes.
The beginning of this week’s reading, “Remembering World War II: The Rhetoric and Politics of National Commemoration at the Turn of the 21st Century” by Barbara A. Biesecker, discusses the emphasis on the placement of the World War II memorial in the very center of the nation’s capitol. The author describes the choice to place the memorial here, quoting former President Clinton’s speech at the memorial’s dedication ceremony, stating, “a prime piece of property was parceled out for the repair of a nation crippled by ‘division and resentment.’ While on a smaller scale, a similar emphasis on location can be seen in this bronze sculpture as well. The piece is located at the very center of a small park, bordered by the home of Susan B. Anthony.
I thought that this piece was very fitting as the Presidential elections approach, especially since there is a great emphasis on the importance of women’s votes in this election. At one point, American women were fighting simply for the right to vote, and now political candidates are fighting for the votes of women across the country.
One visual aspect I did find interesting was the positioning of the two figures toward each other. Anthony’s hand is gesturing toward Douglass while his is held in front of himself, guardedly. Additionally, Anthony’s expression on her face seems to be looking up toward Douglass earnestly while his head seems to be tilted downward towards her, questioningly. I thought that the body language in this scene seemed to suggest that the two would be having a debate-like discussion. Later, as I read more about the relationship between Anthony and Douglass, I found out that they came to a point of challenge in their friendship when black men were given the right to vote under the Civil Rights Act of 1866, while women still remained without this right. The expressions and gestures of the bronze figures seem to somewhat embody this point in their friendship.