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Exhibition Drawn to Purpose

Political Cartoonists

Historically, women have found political or editorial cartooning one of the most difficult genres to break into. Even today, few female cartoonists make this the main focus of their careers, although they have made inroads in the field since the early twentieth century. Anne Mergen, the editorial cartoonist for the Miami Daily News from 1933 to 1956, commented on leading issues and figures of her day but took special interest in community welfare including public health and medical research. Contemporary cartoonists Lisa Benson, Liza Donnelly, and Ann Telnaes have all addressed women's issues, but tackle many other topics as well. Benson uses visual metaphor to comment on the flimsy structure supporting Social Security. Telnaes's elegant drawing of a gay couple's wedding reception appears to be celebratory but she also points out how the institution of marriage leaves plenty of room for second-class citizenship. Donnelly references rape on college campuses in co-eds' casual conversation. Female political cartoonists bring attention to the changing roles and unequal treatment of their gender. The powerful visual commentary they produce has also helped shape public opinion and illuminate the controversial, critically important political and social debates of their times that affect all people.

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