Press release: Artist selected to sculpt Martha Hughes Cannon statue

On the 149th First to Vote anniversary, the Martha Hughes Cannon Oversight Committee, together with the women of Utah’s 63rd Legislature, announced Ben Hammond was selected to sculpt the statue of Martha Hughes Cannon to be placed in the United State Capitol in 2020.

“Utah leads the nation in many ways. This statue symbolizes all that Utah achieved in the past and has yet to achieve in the future,” said Utah Senator Deidre Henderson, co-chair of the Martha Hughes Cannon Oversight Committee. “Not enough Utahns, or Americans for that matter, know that our state was on the front line of the suffrage movement.

“In fact, 50 years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, Utah women were voting, and in 1896 Martha Hughes Cannon became the first female state senator in the nation. Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon paved the way for women in Utah to take part in civic and political life. We are excited to honor her contributions by placing her statue in National Statuary Hall.”

Members of the Martha Hughes Cannon Statue Oversight Committee interviewed artists to find an individual who could fashion a sculpture to represent Utah’s rich history in the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C.  In September of 2018, a request for qualifications went out to artists, and portfolios poured in from across the U.S. In November, the committee narrowed it down to the top five finalists. Each was invited to create a maquette to present to the committee in early February 2019. The committee was pleased to offer the commission to Hammond.

Hammond has an extensive understanding of capturing realistic representations of relatable and inspiring historical portraitures. His sculptures are displayed throughout the country, and he’s a recipient of numerous awards: the Gloria Medal and the Beverly Hoyt Robertson Memorial Award in 2015 and the Bronze Medal Award at the National Sculpture Society’s Annual Awards Exhibition in 2013.

The Dr. Cannon statue will be placed in Washington D.C. in 2020 as our nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which made voting possible for all women. As our country commemorates women’s suffrage, Utah will celebrate its own historic and groundbreaking role in this effort. 

Utah was the first state to have an American woman, Seraph Young, cast a vote in a state-wide election on February 14, 1870 – fifty years before the 19th Amendment was ratified.

A leader in the women’s suffrage movement, Dr. Cannon played a vital role to ensure the rights of women to vote and hold public office were included in the Utah Constitution after the right had been taken away in 1887. Dr. Cannon became the first-ever female state senator in the United States in 1897, more than 23 years before most women in the country were able to cast a ballot.

Every state is represented by two historical figures in our national Capitol. Currently, Brigham Young and Philo T. Farnsworth represent Utah. During the 2018 General Session, the Utah Legislature passed SCR 1, Concurrent Resolution Recommending Replacement of Statue of Philo Farnsworth in United States Capitol, proposing Utah send a statue of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon to Washington, D.C.

Members of the Martha Hughes Cannon Statue Oversight Committee include Sen. Deidre Henderson – co-chair, Rep. Karen Kwan– co-chair, Samantha Gordon, Spencer Stokes, Adam Gardiner, Jen Christensen, Ronald L. Fox, Elizabeth Weiler and David Damschen.