Persistence: Continuing the Struggle for Suffrage and Equality, 1830-2020
Artist: Anika Schneider
Chosen Suffrage Leader: Bertha Moller
Through this painting I want to highlight the connection between contemporary women and suffragist, Bertha Moller. My painting aims to draw parallels between her struggles and the struggles we face today. Bertha is foregrounded within the painting, in order to emphasize how the lives of suffragists continue to impact us today. I decided to focus on Bertha’s use of picketing as a form of activism and draw parallels between her fight for women’s rights and those of modern women. Today many women have followed in the footsteps of past suffragists by participating in Women’s Marches across the country. In the painting, Bertha Moller is painted with a higher level of realization than the contemporary women in order to demonstrate how she continues to lead us from the past.
To make this work, I had to connect my life to Bertha Moller’s in order to develop a strong personal connection with her as a subject. Thinking about the many forms of protest Berth Moller employed in order to earn the right to vote and improve human rights all around caused me to reflect on the causes and movements I am passionate in fighting for within my own life. Women continue to be strong leaders and the initiators of human rights movements, but often do not gain recognition long-term recognition. We are currently faced with an unstable environment and many uncertainties.
I created a metaphorical environment with my paint that reflects the struggles and uncertainties that women suffragists faced. Layers of paint are used to create a stormy turbulent environment, while small rays of sunshine peak out from the storm clouds, indicating possibilities of the future. Bertha Moller leads a group of protesters over rocks and unstable ground. Although she rises above the rocky terrain and is foregrounded she still has not been able to traverse through all of the rocks. The continued expanse of rocky ground points to all of the work yet to do in the fight for true equality for all. The layers of space behind the women demonstrate how far the work of women suffragists has come. Even though we often think of the work of suffragists as in the distant past, in this painting Bertha Moller is able to transgress time and lend a hand and her leadership to those who continue her work today.
Anika Schneider Biography
Anika Schneider is a painter and recently received her MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. For her undergraduate studies, Anika received a Bachelors of Science and double majored in Environmental Studies and Studio Art at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA. Anika has been awarded the Trustees Scholarship as well as the Talent Incent Grant from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Anika’s work has been exhibited nationally at galleries such as Soo Visual Arts Center, Circle Gallery, Visarts, Rosalux Gallery, Dumbarton Concert Gallery, and Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture. Anika has also participated in residencies in Wolfsville, Nova Scotia and Solomons Island, Maryland. This past summer, Anika served as a Windgate University Fellow at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Anika is originally from the suburbs of Washington DC and now lives in Minneapolis and enjoys exploring the Twin Cities with her boyfriend and active Australian Shepherd, Wolly.
Bertha Berglin Moller Biography
Bertha Moller began her suffrage work with Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association and worked for them as a paid organizer by 1915. This included giving talks and organizing new suffrage clubs throughout the state. She was soon drawn to the more radical tactics of the Congressional Union and in 1916 worked as a paid organizer for them. By 1917 Moller was working for the National Woman’s Party, which had started picketing the White House. Moller was arrested eleven times while picketing in Washington, D.C., and served two five-day sentences.
Moller was deeply involved in the NWP’s final push for ratification of the 19th Amendment throughout 1919 and 1920. She lobbied both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in 1920. She helped the National Woman’s Party research laws relating to women in each state, identifying areas of discrimination and gave speeches on the findings. In the 1920s and 1930 she was a national speaker for both the National Woman’s Party and the Democratic Party. In 1927 she visited Central American to learn about the laws affecting women in those countries. In 1929 she represented the NWP at an international industrial conference in Berlin. She was one of four delegated from the United States.
Moller stayed with the Democratic Party until the late 1930s, when she decided that President Franklin Roosevelt should not run for a third term. At that point she became a Republican and traveled the country making speeches for Wendell Wilkie, the Republican candidate for president.
Bertha Christina Berglin Moller was born in Sweden. Her family emigrated to the United States when she was five years old. The Berglins—all nine of them—lived in Rock Creek Township in Pine County where Magnus Berglin was a farmer. Moller graduated from Rush City High School and then from Duluth Normal School. She taught school in Pinewood in Beltrami County for a few years, married Charles Moller in 1910, and continued to teach for a few years after her marriage. The Mollers kept a home in Pinewood for several years, even though both of them began traveling a lot, Charles for his job and Bertha for suffrage work.
When the Mollers moved to Minneapolis in 1918, Bertha Moller continued to work hard for suffrage in Minnesota and throughout the country. At some point she also started law school at the University of Minnesota. The Mollers moved to Chicago in 1923 and that is where our knowledge about her ended until recently. We now know that she finished law school at Northwestern University, graduating in 1925. She also was divorced from Charles and was supporting herself. Moller worked as a lawyer in government for much of her career, first for the city of Chicago in different positions and later in Washington, D.C., for the federal government. In 1930 she married again to Peter Delin. Her name change from Moller to Delin made it difficult for researchers to trace her.
Bertha Berglin Moller Delin died in San Francisco in 1951 and is buried in a cemetery in Forest Lake where other members of her family are also buried.