Mothers, Women, Children, Choices: Judy Takács at Chagrin Arts
For over a year now, every discussion with women at art openings…and everywhere else… had us shaking our heads, wringing our hands, and lamenting dark times in Ohio since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Reproductive rights…then and now
January 22, 1973: the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade guaranteeing the right to abortion.
June 24, 2022: the six to three conservative majority Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the almost-fifty-year-old “settled law” that guaranteed abortion rights nationally. The decision whether to keep abortion safe and legal was now up to each individual state.
Some states saw this as an opportunity to ban abortion rights altogether. In Kansas, voters were asked to remove it from their state constitution. Thankfully, this initiative failed miserably at the ballot box.
California, Vermont, and Michigan voted to add abortion rights to their constitutions, battening down the hatches in case of a nationwide ban. Even conservative Montana and Kentucky voted to keep abortion rights in their states.
Sadly, Ohio’s response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade was to enact the incorrectly named Heartbeat Bill that bans abortion after electrical activity is detected in the embryo, usually around six weeks. There are no exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother…not even for the ten-year-old child who was raped and seven-weeks pregnant.
Hope and hard work
Even before Roe was overturned, Pro-Choice Ohio activists, including me, were working on protecting reproductive rights. I wrote letters and essays to politicians, justices, nonprofits, and newspapers. I asked Mayor Bibb to make Cleveland a sanctuary city. I asked Elizabeth Warren to cite the Third Amendment Quartering Act to constitutionally justify flipping Roe back. I pulled Libertarian heartstrings with bodily autonomy arguments, and I wasn’t sure who to even ask, but wondered whether Native American sovereign nations might host clinics like they do casinos.
I also approached Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights about placing a single bipartisan ballot issue before the voters to enshrine reproductive rights, including abortion, into the Ohio Constitution. Great minds thinking alike, this was on their agenda too. Thanks to immediate and tireless work by Ohio doctors, lawyers, experts, and activists, this effort sailed through the first set of bureaucratic gauntlets.
In March 2023, the push was on to collect 400,000 to 700,000 signatures statewide, with the necessary five percent of voters from 44 of 88 Ohio counties. Petitions were circulated all over Ohio by hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of volunteers, including me.
My strategy was to spend the months before the June deadline hitting heavily-attended art events. Pro-Choice tote bag on my shoulder, I proudly and loudly peddled my petition clipboards at FROM WOMAN at Lakeland, OAC in Columbus, Third Fridays at CAN Journal, Artists Archives, Summit Artwalk, Art by the Falls…and just before the June deadline, at Chagrin Arts, right on Main Street in Chagrin Falls.
Saving the world one painting at a time
Chagrin Arts is an organization that loudly and proudly fights for social justice. Their Arts With A Purpose mission tackles difficult issues head-on: wrongful convictions, mental health, veteran support, diversity, equity, inclusion, ethics and excellence—and now reproductive rights.
My mission as an artist is to try to save the world one painting at a time. I have always created feminist works and have now turned my attention to painting and working for reproductive rights.
When Chagrin Arts Executive Director Karen Prasser offered me a pro-choice solo show through election day in November, it was, once again, the magic of great minds thinking alike.
We quickly set dates, and I’m thrilled to say that Mothers, Women, Children, Choices will open from 2 to 4 pm Sunday, September 17, at Chagrin Arts, and continue through November 17, just past the November 7 Election Day when reproductive rights will be on the ballot. Gallery events are being planned as of this writing and updated on the chagrinarts.org website.
This solo show will include works from my Goddess Project and beyond. One and Portrait of Joy are Madonna and Child portraits. The motherly bonding, laughter, love, and connection are honored with traditional golden halos for ordinary women and their children.
Paintings from my Godfather Trilogy feature the Virgin Mary and Leda as they navigate the realities of pregnancies they did not choose. Their faces show fear, concern, wisdom, and acceptance. Mary is not the only one with a halo.
My Body, My Decision and Trust Women, are inspired by Michelangelo’s David pose and show a classical woman taking down the patriarchy as symbolized by the American flag.
Ban Heartbeat Bills, ATTENTION: OHIO, BANS OFF and self-portraits, The Pledge and MASALA: Make Abortion Safe and Legal Again are hard-hitting contemporary activism. Hangers, frightening symbols of the post-Roe world we live in, pierce the flags of our lives. Expressive faces, hands, and messages show the concern we all should have as to the state of our reproductive rights in Ohio and the nation.
Mothers, Women, Children, Choices shows that it is because we respect all those who can get pregnant…including children who can get pregnant… that we are pro-choice. We work toward a society that welcomes parents, children and babies with support and education, food, shelter, healthcare, safety, and respect. We believe that each person can and should decide for themselves, with the advice of their doctor, when or whether to carry a pregnancy to term and have a child. The government should not make these very personal and nuanced reproductive healthcare decisions for you, me, or anyone else.
Judy Takács urges you to vote YES for the reproductive rights amendment on the ballot November 7. Whether you need more convincing or not, I hope you will come seeMothers, Women, Children, Choicesat Chagrin Arts, September 17 through November 17!
88 North Main Street
Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022
Mothers, Women, Children, Choices: Judy Takács, September 17–November 17. Opening reception 2-4pm Sunday, September 17