The artwork, a tribute to the Women’s March that occurred two weeks ago, was sent in on a whim by Abigail Gray Swartz, who felt inspired to create the piece after walking in the march herself.
In an interview with Huffington Post the artist spoke about the connection between Rosie the Riveter and her decision to make her a woman of color:
I’m a knitter and I knit several pussy hats for myself and for my friends to wear to the [Women’s] March. Watching all of my friends and strangers sharing their Instagram stories of knitting hat after hat was incredible. The act of making the symbol brought unity to the event even before it began. Therefore, I knew that the hat would be a symbol of the woman’s movement.
So on the Monday following the march, I sat down and started thinking about the art I wanted to make in response to my own experience on Saturday as well as the collective experience of women nationally and worldwide. I adored seeing the images flooding in of the sea of women (and men) in pink hats. So much pink! I saw a headline from a newspaper that read “She the People” and I thought, “She The People: The revolution will be handmade.” I started thinking how there was this effort on the part of women to create a symbol for the march. It felt reminiscent of World War II when women rationed silk stockings in order to have enough material for the soldiers’ parachutes. How women knit for the soldiers and filled in at the factories while the men were away at war. Just like how we are reclaiming the word “pussy,” the hat is also a symbol of our history in our country ― we are knitting something for the new “war effort” to fight for our rights as women. We are knitting for ourselves.
As a result, I turned to Rosie as a symbol to convey the transformation we have taken from the times of WWII. I made Rosie a woman of color, because as an artist I feel it’s my job to paint diversity. I recently read how important it is for children, especially for children of color, to see images of Barack Obama in their schools. So I concluded, why not give girls of color, and everyone for that matter, an image of a Rosie with brown skin. It was just a no brainer ― I want to paint Rosie as a symbol of the Women’s March and she should look like this.
Read the full interview here.