The National Women’s History Museum and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library partnered to display the Glass Ceiling Breaker, a sculpture made entirely out of shattered glass that highlights the nation’s first African-American female vice president and Howard University alumna, Kamala Harris, and the glass ceilings she has shattered. This comes as the museum partners with D.C. Public Libraries and prepares to host its first exhibition, an African-American women’s exhibition, in March 2023.
Both the sculpture and the upcoming exhibition were developed by the women’s museum and are a part of their efforts to celebrate the achievements made by African-American women in history. The sculpture–made from laminated safety glass–was created by contemporary glass artist Simon Berger in March 2021. According to Jennifer Herrera, the vice president of external affairs of the National Women’s History Museum, Berger based the Glass Ceiling sculpture on a photograph taken by Celeste Solman.
It is currently on display on the first floor in the main lobby of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library after previously being on display at the Lincoln Memorial for three days. Herrera hopes this display motivates Howard students to shatter glass ceilings in their own respective fields.
“HU is the VP’s alma mater and to have the nation’s first woman VP also be the first VP from an HBCU is extremely powerful,” Herrera said.
“I hope this installation gives Howard students a sense of pride and inspires them with their own sense of possibility,” she continued.
Some, like Maya Brown, a freshman marketing major, are already feeling that sense of pride and gratitude for the diversity and inclusion efforts taking place post-Harris’ election to the second highest office in the land.
“[Kamala] Harris is bringing diversity to bigger spaces and really representing us [as Black women] because we are usually underrepresented in spaces like this. It’s all about diversity and inclusion,” Brown said.
The Glass Ceiling Breaker sculpture is a part of an art installation used to introduce the full exhibition that is set to take place during Women’s History Month next year. The full exhibition next year will also be held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and will include works that will focus on black feminism.
The exhibit is the first full exhibition held by the National Women’s History Museum. After years of operating online, the National Women’s History Museum will use its partnership with D.C. museums located in downtown Washington, D.C., to voice the stories of women’s history giants that have made cultural impacts within the Black community. Kalysta Combs, a junior biology major at Howard University, is excited to experience the exhibition in March.
“This is going to be an enlightening experience. This [Black women shattering history] is important and it should never stop being talked about. It’s nice to have a place to learn and witness history,” Combs said.
The exhibition next year will include perspectives taken from the turn of the 20th century all the way to power movements that have been seen and witnessed today and serve to open up a conversation about Black women’s contributions to history.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman