March 22nd: Agnes Martin! & March 24th: Dorothy Height!

I was out of town for a few days over the past week, and managed to miss an opportunity to comment on not one, but two Google Doodles honoring remarkable women. Today, I finally had the chance to sit down and write about this two Doodle-worthy, and Doodle-honored, women, Agnes Martin and Dorothy Height.

Agnes Martin’s Doodle, posted on March 22nd in Canada and the United States, highlights her minimalist art style while matching the traditional colors of the Google logo.

The Doodle honoring artist Agnes Martin, posted March 22nd, 2014.

The Doodle honoring artist Agnes Martin, posted March 22nd, 2014.

Martin was born and raised in Canada, and carried out most of her career in the United States, first in New York City and then in New Mexico. She was a major influence in minimalism, but identified herself as a member of the school of abstract expressionism. In her paintings, she focused on the use of light, rectilinear gridding, and subtle coloring to make statements on spiritualism and reality, and though her work reads as subdued, Martin herself saw her paintings as reflections of life’s joy. Martin’s work has traveled the world and has been a part of many special exhibitions. Martin is a winner of the 1998 National Medal of Arts and New Mexico’s Harwood Museum of Art has a wing dedicated to her and her work. The College Art Association honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award and the 1998 New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts.

Speaking Up covered Dorothy Height back in March of 2013, as part of our Doodle-Worthy Women Series. The Doodle honoring her includes both a portrait of the woman herself, and a portrayal of the Civil Rights movement of which she was a key part. The Google Doodles blog contains some lovely information on the process of designing the Doodle to best honor her.

The Doodle honoring Dorothy Height, posted March 24th, 2014.

The Doodle honoring Dorothy Height, posted March 24th, 2014.

 

Dorothy Height was born March 24, 1912, and was an educator, an activist, and a key figure in the African American civil rights movement. She rose to incredible prominence in American politics and had a strong, unwavering voice in U.S. civil rights policy. By 1932, she had earned a degree in education and a master’s degree in educational psychology, which would provide a foundation for the strategies she found most helpful in social justice and in the campaigns and programs she led throughout her career.

When she was working as a social worker in New  York City in the 1930s, Height joined the National Council of Negro Women; she became president of that association in 1957 and served in that role until 1997. She also worked with the YWCA and led that organization to integrate its buildings and services by 1946. Her efforts, campaigns, and connections tied her to the major civil rights leaders of the time; for instance, Height was a co-organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. As a woman, however, Height was often pushed out of the spotlight in favor of her male colleagues. Her work for women’s rights — such as co-founding the National Women’s Political Caucus — attempted to bridge the gap between feminism and the civil rights movement.

Because of her expertise, she counseled American Presidents, Secretaries of State, and private foundations on matters relating to civil rights. Height has been honored with both a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Gold Medal (the two highest honors that can be given to a civilian), is an inductee to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and was honored with flags flown at half mast upon her death in 2010.

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