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New mural salutes 19th Amendment
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Jenny Ustick has transformed a brick wall at Security Federal Savings Bank on West Main Street into a mural dedicated to Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th Amendment. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

A Walls for Women kick-off piece is nearing completion in McMinnville. It is honoring 100 years of women’s right to vote. 

“This is my first time in Warren County,” said artist Jenny Ustick. “I’ve spent a little time in Tennessee. Nashville mainly and driving through Tennessee to get there. This is a lovely community. As soon as I was invited to do this project, I started digging into its history and learning everything I can about the community. In the past, what attracted people here and what made them stay. And, how do we in the 21st century keep redefining our identity.” 

Her research produced some interesting findings.

“I’ve learned there were some really scrappy, sassy women in Warren County’s history,” said Ustick. “They said ‘I hear you, but I’m going to do it this way.’ I can really relate to that. I get tradition, the rules and the way things are done, but I think I have a better way.” 

With 2020 marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote, Ustick was selected to create one of 10 original murals this summer by female artists in multiple communities across Tennessee, the last of the necessary 36 states to secure ratification on Aug. 18, 1920. 

Kristin Luna and Scott van Velsor started DMA (Do.More.Art) in May 2018 as a way to harness the imaginative spirit found in all of humanity by removing some of the barriers to entry of the creative process. 

Walls for Women, their project for 2020, focuses exclusively on capturing female creative energy for artistic placemaking in communities in need of joy, hope and color during Tennessee’s Centennial of the 19th Amendment.

Tullahoma, Nolensville, Nashville, Knoxville, Maryville, Union City and Greeneville will also receive murals painted by Cymone Wilder of Nashville, Sarah Painter of Tallahassee, Kim Radford of Nashville, Nicole Salgar of Miami, Juuri of Oklahoma City, Paris Woodhull of Knoxville, Tara Aversa of Nashville and Whitney Herrington of Columbia.

Locally, the mural is being painted on a Security Federal Savings Bank building on West Main Street.

Ustick’s inspiration, in part, came from the Davis Memorial Fountain, locally called Hebe. The statue was given in 1914 to the city for its Court Square park by Laura Davis Worley, who made the gift as a memorial to her parents after Mary Cunningham suggested a fountain would be ideal as a water source for birds. 

Cunningham, a member of McMinnville Women’s Civic League, established the community’s first free lending library in July 1913. Thanks to the library’s first benefactor, Magness Library was constructed in and opened in 1932. 

Hebe’s dedication was held May 20, 1915. 

In addition to the creation of new art, DMA hopes to drive awareness to the importance in voting, both in 2020 local and federal elections, through the presence of these mural installations in a pivotal election year.

“Voter participation in Tennessee is nowhere near the levels it needs to be for a functioning democracy,” Luna says. “While the murals honor the ratification of the 19th amendment and are integral in the beautification of downtown areas, we also want to see this project lead to an increase in our state’s voter turnout, both this election season but every year going forward.”

McMinnville’s inclusion in Walls for Woman was made possible by McMinnville Tourism Board members. It approved $7,500 to participate in the all-female mural festival across Tennessee.

The mural is slated for completion on Sunday, July 26.