My story is the nation’s story.

Who are these women? Do you know their stories and the contributions they made? We invite you to learn about them and how the Smithsonian honors their legacies. 

Maya Lin posing with one of her art exhibits, which involves marbles as a medium
I used my marbles.
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Maya Lin

Sculptor, Architectural Designer

I EXPLORE how we experience and relate to nature, setting up a systematic ordering of the land, tied to history, memory, time and language.

My art is an ode to nature. The Chesapeake Bay is a favorite. It is intricate and meandering and has been changed by human activity. But, nature is resilient.

To represent its beauty and fragility, I studied satellite images and historical maps for Folding the Chesapeake, an installation of 54,000 marbles. Through this work, I hope to motivate people to protect the bay as a vibrant life force.

Folding the Chesapeake is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell Maya Lin’s story and other women’s stories of their passion to protect nature. 


Photo: Wolfe, Alexandra, “Art and Architecture: Maya Lin,” The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2015. PHOTO MATT FURMAN

Content: Maya Lin, artist talk, 2015–2016, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery; Nodjimbadem, Katie, “Maya Lin Used 54,000 Marbles to Model the Chesapeake Bay,” Smithsonian Magazine, November 9, 2015

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Portrait of Mary Cassatt with a large black feathered headpiece
I made an impression.
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Mary Cassatt


IT MAY INTEREST you what Degas said when he saw the picture you just bought for your Museum. It was painted in 1891 ... He was chary of praise, but he spoke of the drawing of the woman’s arm plucking the fruit and said no woman has the right to draw like that.

He said the color was like a Whistler. He had spoken of the picture to Berthe Morisot who did not like it. I can understand that. If it stands the test of time & is well drawn its place in a Museum might show the present generation we worked & learnt our profession.

Mary Cassatt’s paintings and letters are at the Smithsonian. They will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of not compromising creativity.


Photo: Unidentified photographer, Mary Cassatt, 1914. Frederick A. Sweet research material on Mary Cassatt and James A. McNeill Whistler, 1872–1975. Archives of American Art

Content: Mary Cassatt letter to Homer Saint-Gaudens, December 28, 1922, Archives of American Art

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Sandra Cisneros
I gave my word.
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Sandra Cisneros


TO ME, Spanish is like a violin—clear and melodic. English is deeper, like a cello. My voice on the page comes from speaking Spanish and English. The punch-you-in-the-nose English is from my mom, the tender Spanish my father.

I found that voice when I began writing from a place of love. I wrote stories and poems that took me to my family and the things I saw in my community. I had never seen my home reproduced in a film, photograph or literature with love. So, I said, "Why don’t I write that story?"

Sandra Cisneros’ portrait is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of putting pen to paper to transform our national narrative.


Photo: Sandra Cisneros, © Keith Dannemiller

Content: Laura Hambleton interview with Sandra Cisneros, 2018, Smithsonian 

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