A Lot of Talk About Strong Women…

Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about strong women. It keeps coming up—in conversation, on TV, in the news. Some of this chatter may be due to one man’s search for a competent woman who is “ready to take the reins on day one.“ The operative word here being “competent.“ As we celebrate the centennial of the 19th amendment, we salute the strong women who got us the vote. However, it’s well worth noting that this discussion goes well beyond politics. Ever since World War II when Rosie the Riveter, the “can do” lady, captured our hearts, women have been saying “Yes, we can.” Meaning, we’re up for the challenges of any job in any line of work. This brings me back, of course, to the arts and the beautiful work of art that is the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, whose Project Director was guess who—a visionary woman—Jamey Barbas.

All this talk about strong women reminded me of the artist who, at the unveiling of the public art on the bridge, whispered to me, “I am so glad there are strong women at ArtsWestchester.” I took it as a compliment, meaning thanks to the women who get things done, even on a bridge. I shot back at her. “I’m so glad there are strong women artists,“ meaning thanks to women like Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, an artist who dares to think big and designed a sculpture of a monumental scale. My good news for Cheryl, and other artists too, is that no one on the panel questioned the ability or even qualifications of a woman to get this job done. That’s progress. Was it because there were strong women in the room? I doubt that. Does it mean that women are finally cracking another ceiling? I doubt that too, although we have come a long way, baby. Perhaps we are more and more accepting of the fact that being an artist is a hard life and, yes, it takes a strong woman to be one. What say you, artists?