"City of Hidden Figures" is a Public Art Program by artist and activist, Abigail Gray Swartz inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s New Yorker Essay “City of Women”


To launch a nationwide women-led public arts program that creates “Cities of Women.” For the first time in history, these cities will depict female and male heroes equally – from each city’s murals, to its sculptures, to the renaming of its streets and parks. Target cities will transform their streetscapes to honor local known or –“hidden”-female identifying figures. This generation of young girls will be the first to look up from their daily paths and see themselves, again and again and again, in the many diverse images honoring the power and impact of women throughout history in their local communities.

Project Impact:

·  Inspires young girls by providing equal representation of women to men in the heroes celebrated in the streetscapes surrounding their daily paths.  

·  Teaches all community members about the power and impact of local female heroes who have otherwise been largely written out of history.

·   Lifts up often-unheard voices and values within our current communities by elevating the work of female and minority female artists.

·  Builds a market, pipeline, mentorship and community for female artists.

·   Establishes pay equity for female artists.


The Public arts program will start with a pilot in Portland, Maine Fall 2018. After fine –tuning a replicable model with lessons learned from the pilot, the program will expand into five sister cities with a Day of Women's Art March 2020. There will be an open call for female identifying artists to apply to spearhead projects in their own communities. City of Hidden Figures will curate and manage the art program in each city.


Once chosen, the artist will work with their community of girls and women to design and paint a project together. (Or to design a sculpture in which case the artist will then execute the final work).  This community partnership will ensure a sense of ownership and empowerment to the girls and women of the community and inspire them to continue reclaiming their cities and towns.


The community, be it through schools, field trips to historical birth places, visiting city hall, or working with librarians at local libraries- will research, discover and nominate local known or hidden female figures. Then the community will nominate who should be depicted- one, or more, or all.