The Dorchester Women’s Mural, a public art project of the non-profit Cambridge Community Arts Foundation, Inc. (CCAF) has been completed by Baltimore Muralist Bridget Cimino and will be officially dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, August 13th at 10 am outside the Main Street Gallery building at 518 Poplar Street in Cambridge.
The Dorchester Women’s Mural features 12 remarkable Dorchester-based women, past and present. Numerous women depicted will be on hand, as well as several State and local officials to celebrate this permanent recognition of the “sheroes” of our community. CCAF President Theresa Knight McFadden praised Cimino’s design as “bold, energetic, and uplifting” noting that she won in a competition among a field of 17 proposals submitted last year in response to a detailed Request for Proposals.
“We are so grateful to the Maryland State Arts Council’s visionary Public Art Across Maryland grant program which committed lead funding for the mural,” said McFadden. “But it all started locally with individual seed contributions from leaders in the community such as Will and Leslie Bishop, as well as start-up funds from a cross-section of community organizations including the Dorchester Center for the Arts, the Cambridge Arts and Entertainment District, and the George B. Todd fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. We thank them one and all.”
The Mural Selection Committee initially chose seven nationally recognized women with ties to Dorchester County: Yogananda Pittman, former Acting Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Civil Rights activist Gloria Richardson, Vice Admiral Sara A. Joyner, the first female carrier strike fighter squadron leader, Harriet Tubman – abolitionist and “Moses to her people”, Anna Ella Carroll, key advisor to President Lincoln during the Civil War, Bea Arthur, actress of stage, screen and television, and champion sharp-shooter Annie Oakley.
This winter and spring, the Committee, with input from the community at large chose to add five additional women, noted for their extraordinary contributions in Dorchester history:
Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, first woman and first African American mayor of Cambridge (three terms), Dr. Lida Orem Meredith, the first woman doctor in Dorchester County, especially noted for her service to the underprivileged, Fronie Jones, matriarch of legendary 60-year, multi-generational crab picking family at J.M. Clayton’s, first woman Chief Donna Wolf Mother Abbott of the Nause Waiwash tribe, and Dakota Abbott Flowers, six-time champion muskrat skinner, and former Miss Outdoors.
Said McFadden, “What these women have in common is the indelible imprint of Dorchester’s rich heritage as waterfront communities where lives tied to the land and water can stimulate the imagination of women with humble beginnings to have faith that anything they can imagine themselves doing, can be done by doing it.” “We hope that the stories of these women, will prompt other young women to strike out on any path that excites their passions.”
Nine women from a cross-section of arts and community organizations served on the Mural Selection Committee, which provided honoraria to the three finalists, and ultimately selected Bridget Cimino’s final design submission. Notably, Cimino recommended that consideration be made to extending the mural onto the adjacent wall of 516 Poplar Street to include other locally significant women. Building owners Mr. and Mrs. William E. Harrington were supportive of the effort and mural easements were quickly recorded.
Muralist Cimino said, “I’ve had the privilege to be involved in over two dozen murals, and this is the one that excites me the most so far. I can’t wait to meet everyone at the official ribbon cutting. It is great to think of some young girl learning about the stories of these incredible women and thinking about which one inspires them the most as they contemplate their future.”
CCAF, Inc. was founded early in 2021 by a group of artists who first met as members of the Main Street Gallery co-op and wanted to sponsor art projects in the community. The Foundation’s first project was creating the “Little Free Art Gallery” which offers small works of arts for anyone who would like to take them home (just like a little free library). “Bring a piece, take a piece” is our motto said McFadden, “and we have been so gratified by the number of small works people in the community have placed in the Little Free Gallery to be enjoyed and shared with others. This may be one of the smallest public arts projects, but like the huge new Dorchester Women’s Mural they are both available 24 hours a day for passers-by to enjoy art enriching our community.”
Letters to Editor
Patti Willis says
Great project. I’m just sorry this mural doesn’t include the late Ida Jane Baker.