Keeley Flynn is an undergraduate student studying Art and Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating in May 2024, she hopes to attend graduate school.

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OBJECT HISTORY: The Land of the Freed-up Woman

Marge Engelman’s  The Land of the Freed-Up Woman embodies the progressive thinking of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s. Engelman’s decision to use two symbols of womanhood—birth control pills and bras—as the medium for her artwork transformed the recognizable flag into a message informing viewers of the importance of woman’s rights.

Engelman talks with peers at the University of Green Bay. Courtesy of UW-Green Bay Archives.

Marge Engelman and Equal Opportunity at UW-Green Bay

In the 1940s, it was rare for young women like Marge Engelman to pursue higher education. Having grown up in Illinois on her parents’ farm, Engelman was pressured by her father to stay on the family farm and to marry a farmer. Engelman ended up being the only girl from her high school class to attend university.

Wisconsin's Feminist Leaders and the National Organization for Women

In the early nineteen sixties, American women organized in pursuit of socio-political change and gender equality. In Wisconsin, women challenged inequitable policies and societal norms by organizing the Wisconsin Commission on the Status for Women and participating in the National Organization for Women (NOW).