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Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, 2002 copyright Melina Mara. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, 2002 copyright Melina Mara. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R-TX), leads her daughter, Bailey, by the hand back to a line of fellow senators on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during a ceremony to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Changing the Face of Power:
Women in the U.S. Senate

An exhibition of photographs by Melina Mara

September 12 – December 23, 2011

Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. (check Reading Room hours for Saturday closing schedule)

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
Research and Collections Reading Room
Sid Richardson Hall Unit 2
The University of Texas at Austin

More than 35 photographs make up "Changing the Face of Power: Women in the U.S. Senate," a black-and-white documentary photo exhibit of 15 female lawmakers by photojournalist Melina Mara. Mara, a Seattle-based photojournalist, began photographing the 13 women senators who held office in 2001. In focused bursts, Mara traveled the country to document this defining period in the history of U.S. politics. At a time when access to national politicians is increasingly controlled, Mara persuaded a majority of the senators and their staffs to allow her to document the unprecedented role of women in the Senate, both behind the scenes and before mikes and lights, capturing unique images of these 15 women senators at work on Capitol Hill.

"Studies have shown that women lawmakers bring a unique style of bipartisan collaboration, illuminate previously ignored issues and invite a new level of public participation in the governing process," Mara says. "For the first time, it is conceivable that a woman could rise from the Senate to launch a serious bid for the presidency. I hope that my photographs help visitors to understand the evolution that makes such hopes not only possible but reasonable."

A political science major at Sarah Lawrence College, Mara worked for former U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) and as a teacher before pursuing graduate studies at the acclaimed University of Missouri School of Journalism. Since then, storytelling photographs have been a focus of Mara’s career at newspapers and magazines in cities around the country.

Mara’s book on women in the Senate, also titled Changing the Face of Power, was published in 2005 in the Briscoe Center’s Focus on American History Series for the University of Texas Press.

For more information on hours and location, please call (512) 495-4518. 

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