PRO-File – MSA Vendor Member Meneese Wall
August 24, 2020
Name: Meneese Wall
Job Title: Women’s History Artist & Author
Business Name: Meneese Wall—Graphic Artist & Writer
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Interviewed by: Ione Saroyan, New-York Historical Society, NYC
Last week, our country celebrated the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote. We thought it was the perfect time to speak with MSA Vendor Member Meneese Wall, a graphic artist and writer in Santa Fe, NM who designs and wholesales a collection of Women’s Suffrage Centennial Signed Art Prints, notecards, and a book—We Demand The Right To Vote: The Journey to the 19th Amendment. Check out the interview below to learn about Meneese, her collection, and what inspires her.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Texas but my heart is in New Mexico.
What does your company do? How long has your company been in existence?
I am a graphic artist and writer who provides museum stores with signed art prints, notecards, and an illustrated book—We Demand The Right To Vote: The Journey to the 19th Amendment—about the Women’s Suffrage Movement—18th and 19th century American women’s struggle for social and political equality as they fought for the right to vote from 1848 to 1920.
Each of my collection’s art pieces is inspired by historical events, people, quotes, and memorabilia that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment and comes with a historical background describing its significance within the struggle for women to win the right to vote.
Describe the life journey that brought you to this career.
I started my professional life in design, then moved to art brokering and frame shop ownership. Today’s iteration of my art journey started in 2016 when I decided to create a body of work about American women’s first civil rights movement.
Just prior to that, my teenage daughter complained that her American history books were all about white men, to which the researcher/mother/woman/artist in me knew I couldn’t let stand. She deserved to feel empowered, to know that her country offers equal opportunities to her as an Asian American just as it does to our nation’s sons. American women could not vote for the first 144 years of our country’s existence. That inequality was the law. It’s shocking to realize that the pivotal history of how women won their right to vote continues to be left out of our school curriculums and is not part of our society’s common knowledge.
I had to raise awareness of our foremothers’ historical feats. As citizens, we had to know.
Tell us about the first sale you ever made to a museum or non-profit institution… what was it? Who did you sell it to?
The New Mexico History Museum was the first to purchase my women’s suffrage work. Their enthusiasm and encouragement continues to this day.
On August 18th, which marked the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, the NMHM featured my new book on their website and in their newsletter. Sara Birmingham, the museum store’s buyer, originally planned a launch party, talk, and book signing but the pandemic changed that. Sara nurtures a team spirit and shows unwavering support of my work and belief in promulgating women’s role in our history.
What is unique about your product or production technique or design or other aspect? What would the MSA Membership really want to know about you?
I’m fascinated by the historical timeframes in which each of my subjects lived—the communication technologies, periodical designs, fashions, color palettes, photography methods, social norms, and iconography of the subjects’ family, culture, avocations, and profession. Weaving these together into each piece better conveys the essence of the subject.
I’m also quite particular about the reproduction of my artwork. I’m fortunate to live in the third largest art market in the U.S. where we have some of the best printers in the country.
There is a lot of turmoil currently in the world, and in the changing face of retail. Can you tell us one thing that keeps you up at night? What steps will you take in light of that?
Online shopping is a growing profit center that’s here to stay. A recent article headline in Bloomberg said it all: Virus Drives Online Sales to Record, and Some of That Will Stick. Utilizing online store capabilities is key to museum store success during this pandemic and beyond. Customers are stuck at home and purchasing a new this or that, especially from the museums they adore and support, can bring them the measure of joy they so desperately seek in these somewhat lonely times.
I encourage museum stores to ask their vendors for jpeg and png files for online posting.
What are some concrete goals for your next three years working with members of the Museum Store Association? How do you see MSA helping you achieve that?
I want to help museum stores educate their members and customers about American women’s contributions to our collective history. Visitors are thirsty for mementoes, collectibles, and gifts from their museum visits, and artwork with historical context can meet those needs.
I’m also interested to talk with individual museum stores about creating works that portray and honor their local women’s history. So I’d love to hear from MSA members who’d be interested in this kind of collaboration.
Just for fun —
Do you have a hobby?
I enjoy gardening, especially outside my studio where I can revel in the fruits of my labor through the window, drought and wildlife permitting, while I create my next masterpiece (ha!).
I’m inspired by the graphic art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and have a collection of vintage 1930s Fortune magazine covers and 19-teens Vogue covers.
Meneese Wall is a graphic artist and writer in Santa Fe, NM who designs and wholesales a collection of Women’s Suffrage Centennial Signed Art Prints, notecards, and a book—We Demand The Right To Vote: The Journey to the 19th Amendment.