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  • Debbie Maier Jacknin

She Persists - I Persist

She Persists: Power of Knowledge-this stained glass mosaic is a juxtaposition of where women have come from, where we are and what we have yet to accomplish. It is also my story.

My favorite art period is Impression and I am especially fond of Monet and Renoir. The women depicted were often full figured and beautiful, but history tells us they had limited rights. They were not able to vote, own property, and jobs for them were limited.

We’ve come a long way and I thank the women who came before me. I'm a 57 year old woman who raised two daughters on my own and I like to think I’ve made my contribution.

"She Persists" is created in the style of Impressionism, with a woman and a young girl in long dresses overlooking water with lily pads. But here is the twist- the woman is holding a parasol that is reaching up into the sky towards clear glass, representing the glass ceiling.

The United States Federal Glass Ceiling Commission defines the glass ceiling as: "the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements."

A man may be called assertive while a woman with similar traits is often called a bitch. Women have made great strides and the woman in the stained glass mosaic has punctured the "ceiling" represented by the clear glass all around her. But there is a part of the glass which has yet to be shattered symbolizing the work that still needs to be accomplished.

Can those who come after us learn from us? In “She Persists” the “ceiling” is coming up under the young lady who is reading. It is my way of encouraging our girls to educate themselves and have confidence in their abilities and keep working towards the day when women around the world have equal freedom and rights.

When I was young I loved creating art, but lacked the self-confidence to attempt to use those skills to make my living. Comparing myself to Monet and Renoir, I felt I could not compete. Talk about unrealistic expectations!

When in high school, I took an art class where I worked very hard on a painting and got a ‘B”. I remember thinking, “who has the right to grade someone’s art?” I wondered, who decides what art is good and what art is bad?

In college, my degree was in management and I took classes in creative areas such as advertising and communications media, which I really enjoyed but again, I compared myself to others and thought I was not creative enough to pursue a career in one of those fields.

I met Larry and he loved to create art. It was time to put art back in my life and we starting painting together. For our wedding he came up with the idea of creating a stained glass mosaic as our Ketubah (a modern way to honor an age old Jewish tradition).

We fell in love with the medium and created this together:

Larry really encouraged my talent and we worked on the stained glass mosaics together. I did the fine detail within our pieces and I still had a tendency to be very critical of my work. But he kept telling me we were creating fantastic pieces of art. Larry constantly challenged me. He would come up with ideas and I would say, "I'm not sure I can do that." and he would tell me that of course I could and I did. We started selling our stained glass mosaics and our work was well received.

“She Persists” is the first major piece I created by myself after Larry passed away.

Recently, I was at a museum and the docent asked if there were any artists in the group and, without thinking, I raised my hand. I've grown to the point where I can look at something I create and say "I like it and am proud of my accomplishment." I may not be Monet or Renoir, but I'm me and that is good enough!

I lost my husband, I own my own home and business. I am an artist. I persist.

Do you Persist? Do you have a glass ceiling story? Please, share it with me!

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