DENDROFEMONOLOGY: A FEMINIST HISTORY TREE RING
ON THE NATIONAL MALL IN WASHINGTON, DC
What an incredible four days we had coming together around the installation of a new kind of monument, DENDROFEMONOLOGY: A Feminist History Tree Ring. Having the sculpture stand between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in DC felt like a much needed feminist intervention. In a world that has felt dark and polarized, this art installation and activation was about light, coalition building, and an intersectionality that includes all of us.
We chose to do the activation Nov 1-4 because it came right before the 2023 November election in 38 states, in which there were 93,000 races on the ballots, all of which could impact women’s rights, trans rights, and reproductive rights.
The powerful four days included inspiring speakers at the sculpture unveiling, an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Convening with 50+ organizations with eyes on getting the ERA finally published, incredible partners (all listed below) voter registration by the students of Voters of Tomorrow, art activations by Michele Pred, Whitney Bradshaw, and Autumn Breon, a curated a feminist book list by author Rozella Kennedy, Feminist DC tours by A Tour of Her Own to the National Women’s History Museum’s We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC exhibition at the MLK Library, film screenings, a healing Shabbat that Vice President Kamala Harris wrote a special letter for, and participatory elements for people in DC and online that will become part of a new film.
We are so grateful to The National Women’s History Museum and Women Connect4Good, who were presenters of the whole activation, and to Vital Voices, the Global Embassy for Women, who were our indoor headquarters.
"Dendrofemonology offers itself as a bullseye for collective action."
“She reclaims naturally felled specimens to create organic, changeable
anti-monuments that are fated to eventually return to the earth."
"The Feminist History Tree Rings holds “a plethora of whitespace that invites viewers
to imagine how the future might unfold on the precipice of a major election year. “
Nob Hill Gazette
Press Release October 17, 2023:
The National Women's History Museum and Artist Tiffany Shlain Present DENDROFEMONOLOGY: A Feminist History Tree Ring: A Four Day Installation and Activation on the National Mall In Washington, DC, November 1-4
Artist Tiffany Shlain speaking at the monument's debut
on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial
The Original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter
Padma Lakshmi, Host of Taste the Nation
Speakers before the debut:
Host of Taste the Nation Padma Lakshmi, #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke, Tiffany Shlain,
Planned Parenthood's Caren Spruch, and the Original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter
Drag Race and Broadway Star Miss Peppermint, Original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter,
Founder of Women Connect4Good Dr. Nancy O'Reilly, Tiffany Shlain, President of National Women's History Museum Frederique Irwin
Each day the monument saw thousands of tourists, student field trips, and group trips. We engaged the public with questions: What's your favorite line on the tree ring? What do you hope is the next milestone?
In addition to an upcoming short film that will feature all of the live interviews, we invited the public to write responses.
The most common answer? Publish the Equal Rights Amendment!
Artist Autumn Breon who brought her Care Machine, Singer Martha Redbone who performed, Author Tanya Selvaratnam, Tiffany Shlain, OUTCRY's Whitney Bradshaw, and Abortion is a Human Right Art Parade leader Michele Pred.
On Day 3 we had a vibrant intergenerational ERA Coalition Convening of 50+ organizations at Vital Voices orchestrated by Elisa Parker. Speakers included Ellie Smeal of Feminist Majority Foundation, Gloria Feldt of Take the Lead, Melanie Campbell of National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, Ella Duncan-High of Generation Ratify, Amy Hinojosa of MANA, A National Latina Organization, Sophia Arment of Feminist Front, Jessica Jones Capprell of League of Women Voters, Shermena Nelson of African-American Policy Forum, Samad Quraishi of Voters of Tomorrow, Lisa Sales of Virginia NOW, Christian Nunes of NOW, Jill Thompson of Equality Now, Krystal Leaphart of RH Impact, Alice Crenshaw of Equal Means Equal, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly of Women Connect4Good, and Zakiya Thomas of ERA Coalition.
On Friday evening we had a healing Shabbat candle lighting, where Vice President Kamala Harris's chief advisor Josh Orton read us a letter written by the Vice President. We also had Moment Magazine's Nadine Epstein and Amy Schwartz contributing.
Saturday was the Abortion is a Human Right Art Parade led by Michele Pred
Gloria Feldt of Take the Lead, Jennifer Tucker of ERA Coalition, and Dr. Nancy O'Reilly of Women Connect4Good,
holding the ERA NOW quilt to demand we publish the ERA NOW!
The Parade went from the Capital to the Feminist History Tree Ring on the National Mall
The parade ended in a joyous flash dance to Imagine by John Lennon and Groove is in the Heart by Dee-Lite,
choreographed by Rena Marie Guidry.
Miss Peppermint and Artist Autumn Breon with Autumn's Care-Machine, a vending machine that
holds banned books, abortion pills and other feminist essentials.
Co-founders of Let it Ripple and producers of the event Sawyer Steele (transgender activist) and Tiffany Shlain (artist of Dendrofemonology),17 years of looking at the big picture and all the millions of details.
A huge shout out to the amazing group of people that helped make this possible:
Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Melissa Miller Young, Frederique Irwin, Jennifer Herrera, Alyse Nelson, Sherene Joseph, Jackie Lockhart-Andretta, Joy Crump, Zakiya Thomas, Elisa Parker, Sawyer Steele, Lauren Schiller, Ajianna Covington, JR Tremblay, Andrea Prebys-Williams, Alice Crenshaw, documentors Ashlee Wilcox, Ashlee Love, Clare Major, Mariah Miranda, and Jordan Gibson ,and our producer on the ground in DC, Stephanie Holland and her heroic crew. And as always, to Ken, Odessa & Blooma.
DENDROFEMONOLOGY: A FEMINIST HISTORY TREE RING
Reclaimed Deodar Cedar Wood Sculpture
65" x 64" x 3"
“I have always been fascinated by the tree ring timelines at the entrance of Muir Woods or any National Park. They illuminate how the trees are a witness to human history. However, I also felt like those timelines tell a colonialist and patriarchal story. The tree rings in Human Nature imagine what alternate histories could be told..." - Tiffany Shlain
50,000 BCE: Goddesses are worshiped.
10,000-3000: BCE Women are healers, shamans, and warriors. A number of societies acknowledge multiple genders.
3100 BCE: Literacy develops, and seeds of patriarchy spread.
2400 BCE: Mesopotamian law declares: “If a woman speaks to a man out of turn, her teeth will be smashed in by a burnt brick.”
200 BCE: Goddess worship is forbidden in Judaism, and later, in Islam and Christianity.
690: Wu Zetian becomes the first—and only—female ruler of China.
1100: Matrilineal and matriarchal Hopi tribe establishes the community of Oraibi in present-day Arizona.
1450 to 1918: 50,000 women tortured and executed as witches across Europe and America.
1576-1610: Queen Amina rules over Zazzau (present-day Nigeria).
1690s: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz becomes the first published feminist in the Americas.
1776-1860s: Abortion up to four months of pregnancy is legal in the United States.
1880s: Inspired by indigenous and abolitionist leaders and British suffragists, first-wave feminism gains momentum in the United States.
1920: 19th Amendment grants US women the right to vote, although most women of color are disenfranchised until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
1920: The Soviet Union legalizes abortion.
1960: FDA approves birth control pill in the United States
1960: Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) becomes the first woman to be elected to lead a democratic country.
1962: Dolores Huerta co-founds US National Farm Workers' Association.
1960s: Second-wave feminism begins with leaders including Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Flo Kennedy, and Shirley Chisholm.
1963: First woman in space Valentina Tereshkova flies a solo mission and orbits Earth 48 times.
1972: Title IX prohibits gender-based discrimination in US federally-funded educational programs and activities.
1972: The US Senate approves addition of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. (The states have not yet ratified it.)
1973: Roe vs. Wade legalizes abortion in all US states and territories.
1974-1980: The Combahee River Women’s Collective calls out the interconnectedness of sexism, racism, and homophobia, and demands change in mainstream feminism and civil rights movement.
1975: Icelandic Women’s Strike held to protest inequality in the workplace and the home. 90% of women participate, and 15 years later Iceland elects a woman president.
1989: Kimberlé Crenshaw defines the concept of intersectionality and ushers in third-wave feminism.
1993: Women allowed to wear pants on the floor of the US Senate.
2006: Tarana Burke begins #MeToo movement.
2016: Hillary Rodham Clinton receives the majority of votes in the US presidential election.
2017: An estimated 5 million people attend Women’s Marches globally. #MeToo goes viral.
2017: Oregon becomes first state to include non-binary gender category on IDs.
2020-2022: US elects first female Vice President Kamala Harris and first trans State Senator, Sarah McBride; Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes first Black woman confirmed to Supreme Court.
Roe v. Wade is overturned, eviscerating federal protection of reproductive rights in the U.S.
Globally, 65 countries have legalized abortions, four in the last year.
Globally, 86 women have been elected president or prime minister to date
ABOUT THE TREE RING
BE PART OF OUR NEXT FILM!
1. What's your favorite line on the tree ring, and why?
2. Why do you think showing and learning about this history is important?
3. What do you hope is the next milestone in feminist history?
We want to hear from you!
Think of your answers, turn on your phone (hold it horizontally!), and hit record.
ABOUT THE ARTIST TIFFANY SHLAIN
Honored by Newsweek as one of the "Women Shaping the 21st Century," Tiffany Shlain is an artist, activist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, national bestselling author, and the founder of the Webby Awards. Working across mediums, from sculptures, films, to performance, Shlain's work explores the intersection of feminism, philosophy, technology, neuroscience, and nature. The Museum of Modern Art in New York premiered her one-woman spoken cinema show, Dear Human, and her recent art exhibition, Human Nature, was presented by the National Women’s History Museum. The centerpiece sculpture from that show, DENDROFEMONOLOGY, A Feminist History Tree Ring, will be installed on the National Mall in DC Nov 1-4 and a large-scale photograph of the work is part of the de Young OPEN at the de Young Museum of Fine Arts this fall. The Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York will be presenting her Human Nature solo exhibition in 2024. Shlain is also creating an exhibition with Ken Goldberg for the Getty Museum's Pacific Standard Time: Art & Science Collide art initiative at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles set for Oct 2024. Her awards and distinctions include selection by the Albert Einstein Foundation for their Genius100 list, the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Intellectual Activity, and inclusion in NPR’s list of best commencement speeches. Shlain is known for her dynamic cinematic talk experiences and performs internationally. Her films have had multiple premieres at the Sundance Film Festival, received over 60 awards, and have been shown at US embassies around the world to represent America. Shlain’s book, 24/6: Giving up Screens One Day a Week to Get More Time, Creativity, and Connection, received the Marshall McLuhan Outstanding Book Award. Shlain is represented by Nancy Hoffman Gallery. @tiffanyshlain
ABOUT LET IT RIPPLE STUDIO
Let it Ripple, the producer of this activation, is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization known for its global art activations, award-winning films and original series, and live and virtual experiences. Founded by artist and activist Tiffany Shlain, and transgender filmmaker and activist Sawyer Steele, Let it Ripple’s mission is to inspire audiences to think about what it means to be an engaged human in today’s evolving world. Their original series The Future Starts Here was nominated for an Emmy Award. Their films have won 60 awards, been viewed over 50 million times, and play across all platforms -- theatrical, television, and nearly all streaming platforms. Their art projects and films have premiered at MoMA and Sundance Film Festival, and have been selected by the US State Department to represent the US at embassies around the world. Their global events, including 50/50 Day about gender equity and Character Day about the science of Character, have engaged millions around the globe. They have a new film about the adolescent brain coming out spring of 2024. Click here for videos and info on other art activations by Tiffany Shlain, Sawyer Steele, and Let it Ripple
ABOUT THE NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY MUSEUM
Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is an innovative museum dedicated to uncovering, interpreting, and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society. A renowned leader in women’s history education, the Museum brings to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history, and serves as a space for all to inspire, experience, collaborate, and amplify women’s impact—past, present, and future. We strive to fundamentally change the way women and girls see their potential and power. NWHM fills in major omissions of women in history books and K-12 education, providing scholarly content and educational programming for teachers, students, and parents. We reach more than five million visitors each year through our online content and education programming and, in March 2023, mounted an exhibit at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington, DC, We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC. The Museum is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit at womenshistory.org.
ABOUT WOMEN CONNECT4GOOD
Women Connect4Good, Inc., is a 501(c)3 with a single mission: women (and men) supporting women, without exclusion. That means working to ensure that all women have access to education, healthcare, housing, and employment opportunities, and putting an end to violence against women and girls and discrimination in all forms. It means connecting with other organizations working for the advancement of women and girls and increasing our reach, so no woman’s voice goes unheard. We are committed to increasing women’s empowerment and achieving gender equality. We know that true gender equity does not currently exist, and as we work toward it, we must advocate for each other. We must support and encourage each other in our homes and offices, acting as advisors, mentors and friends. We envision a world where women are able to realize their fullest potential, finding strength and support in each other. Women helping women is our greatest self-help tool, and that mission that drives everything we do. www.drnancyoreilly.com/