SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Sandra Hollins said she found her face immediately, which is quite the feat considering hers is one among hundreds adorning a new mural that was unveiled in downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
The 5,000-square-foot mural covers much of the east side of the seven-story Dinwoodey building, at 37 W. 100 South, and is part of a celebration for Women’s Equality Day.
The mural depticts over 250 of Utah’s most influential women, both from the past and present day, honors women’s accomplishments as well as their contributions to the state, country and world.
Legislators, athletes, businesswomen, artists and others are all represented on the large, colorful piece of art.
Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, who was at the unveiling, said she was overwhelmed to see herself depicted alongside women she admires and looks up to.
“It is very humbling,” she said. “It is very humbling to be on this mural with all of these women who have done all of these remarkable things. And to even be considered among those women is very, very humbling.”
In addition to the detailed portraits, two of the faces on the mural were left blank, allowing people to imagine the faces of important women in their lives there.
A. Scott Anderson, CEO of Zions Bank, which owns the building, came up with the idea to do something special over a year ago, and he then approached acclaimed artist Jann Haworth, asking her to make it happen.
“I thought we needed to have something monumental to recognize the remarkable contribution of women in this state,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot that we have to do, but when you look at this mural, you realize how significant women have been not only in building this state but in influencing the nation. And we should have pride in that.”
“Women make a difference in our community. We are on the front lines out there fighting for our community,” Hollins said. “We support policies in our community that sustain the community and move the community forward. So it is most important that we honor those women who fought for us to get here. We’ve got to keep them in our memory.”
It is also about inspiring the next generation of women and showing them they can make a difference as well, Anderson said.
While the mural depicts impactful Utah women, the unveiling and the art itself were just as much about voting — a message which is especially poignant in a presidential election year, said Haworth.
“This moment in time is so significant,” she said. “The underpinning, the silent message here is vote.”
The grand reveal of the mural came in a year with historical significance, as 2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the 150-year anniversary of Seraph Young, a Utah woman, becoming the first woman voter in the U.S.
“Art is silent,” Haworth said in her speech at the unveiling. “There’s no music. There’s no dialogue. 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. It’s speaking about the fact that democracy is a work in progress.”
Creating a giant mural
Haworth is perhaps best known for her work on The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover, but she has significant experience constructing murals as well.
Because of that experience, she knew that giant murals, like the one she just finished, are too big a task for just one person.
“You’ve got to go into collaboration and community,” she said. “We found out how effective the stencil process is — in terms of it really welcomes people who have no artistic experience.”
So she and her co-artist on the project, Alex Johnstone, began teaching classes to Utahns on how to stencil.
Then COVID-19 struck.
But the pandemic only served to widen the scope of the project. The artists put together an online guide on how to stencil and had people mail in their contributions.
“There were other men and women outside the country that worked on the mural — and outside the state — because when the lockdown came in, I realized that we were as close to Logan by computer standards as we were to Vienna,” Haworth said.
People from Belgium, Vienna, Australia, Italy, Scotland, Wales and England all contributed to the work, according to Haworth. A total of 178 people worked on the mural, only around 30 of which were professionals, she said.
After the stenciling was done, Johnstone began to digitally render the images and put them together on the mural, which is made from a mesh vinyl and is designed to be weatherproof.
“It has this great kind of silk-like surface to it, which we didn’t anticipate,” Johnstone said.