The Museum of the City of New York “Beyond Suffrage – A Century of New York Women in Politics”

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The Museum of the City of New York was preparing a major new exhibit for the fall – “Beyond Suffrage – A Century of New York Women in Politics” – and they had a unique challenge: how to display a hand-painted, dome-shaped fabric banner that became an iconic image of the Woman’s March that followed the Trump inauguration in January, 2017. The goal was to be able to see the art on the parachute as it appears to be floating in air, billowing upward.

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It was during the Woman’s March in January, 2017, the day after the Trump inauguration...

…that a circular fabric banner, painted with images and slogans of significant figures of the woman’s movement, past and present, was proudly held aloft by marchers. The image of this colorful, parachute-like fabric in full display captured attention and became one of the iconic symbols of the outrage.

A unique artifact was born. And the curators of Beyond Suffrage – A Century of New York Women in Politics – were determined to make it a part of a visually pivotal moment in the display.

To preserve the impact of the artifact the visual design architects at Pure+Applied, wanted it displayed in “full billow” so its power and message were unimpeded. And it would be enhanced by a front and back lighting design, giving the “parachute” an attention-getting glow. And to further accentuate the presence of the dome-like centerpiece, 2 curved mesh fabric walls with 8’h x 10’w incredibly powerful black and white graphics matched the radius of the overhead banner.

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The 2 Curved Walls together with the hovering fabric, created a focal point to the room and featured images of the fight for women’s rights from 2 different eras. The translucency of the images, printed on a mesh flag cloth, served to pivot the narrative of the display from its suffragette origins into the modern era of the struggle.

The challenge of displaying the painted banner in “full-billow” and furthering the gravity-defying illusion, was presented to the Originators to solve. In addition, the Originators were charged with creating 2 complementary curved graphic walls so the dramatic centerpiece display commanded the proper attention and focused the room.

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Debra determined that “less is more” when it came to support structure and based her solution on a wind-blown, inverted umbrella. With her solution in-hand, Debra was permitted to delicately invade the fabric structure and, with the precision of a plastic surgeon, she added small fabric channels, along every seam of the fabric, in complementary colors of the banner so they were barely noticeable. She then piped fiberglass tubes into the channels to create a hub, spokes and wheel assemblage which was light enough to enable the banner to respond to gravity and naturally sit in full-billow.

The 2 curved walls, with dramatic, large-scale graphics printed on a mesh material so they were equally visible from both sides, commanded appropriate attention in the room and lured attendees through the exhibit.

The Originators are proud to have been a part of this most important display and thank the good folks at Pure+Applied along with Todd Ludlum and the curators at MCNY for being so good to work with. “Beyond Suffrage” is on view now through July 22, 2018 at the fantastic Museum of the City of New York on Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street.

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