A Woman's Place © Susan Lapham

A Woman’s Place: Bella Abzug

Susan Lapham

Vienna, Virginia, USA

Artist Statement

In 1971, a few days after my 14th birthday, I was arrested in front of the White House. That same day 300 people died in Vietnam. Influenced by Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm, I believed in their work for social justice – human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights – and took part in activities for social and political change. During the same time period, I learned to sew, cook, turn wood, fix cars. My dream was to live in a home where everything was made by my own hands. This home would be in a community of peace and justice, respect and dignity. I wanted to do everything my father and brothers could do along with everything my mother and grandmother could do. I made my own clothes and quilts, wired my own lamp, bled the brakes on my car. I walked 19 miles with Abzug. I demonstrated, marched, spent the night in jail…and I quilted.

The inspiration for this quilt comes from the bold hats Abzug wore throughout her career. Abzug declared a “woman’s place is in the House – the House of Representatives” during her campaign in 1970. This quilt is a tribute to Abzug and her tireless work for women’s rights.

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

Bella Abzug (1920-1998) was an American lawyer, U.S. Representative, social activist and founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus.


Machine pieced, machine quilted, hand embroidered.


Solid cotton fabric, cotton thread, cotton embroidery thread.