Today, the House of Representatives unveiled a new portrait of Representative Patsy Mink. The first woman of color and first Asian-American woman elected to Congress, in 1964, Mink’s work led to significant changes in education in the United States, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which barred discrimination based on sex in institutions receiving federal funding; the early childhood education program Head Start; and the Women’s Educational Equity Act of 1974, which promoted gender equity in schools.
The colors of the Pacific Ocean and abstractions of flora from her home state of Hawaii—heliconia, bird-of-paradise, and others—form the background of the portrait. The setting evokes Mink’s uniqueness at the outset of her 13-term career in the House—as a Representative from a recently admitted state, a Hawaiian and woman of color, and an activist.
This painting joins nine other portraits commissioned by the House, to date, in the 21st century. In 2002, the House of Representatives began an initiative to identify noteworthy former Members with significant legislative achievements or symbolic importance in House history who did not fall into the limited categories of Representatives who traditionally had portraits painted—namely, Speakers of the House and committee chairs. Over the subsequent years, portrait commissions resulted in wider representation of former Members of Congress and of more contemporary approaches to portraiture within the House Collection of Art and Artifacts. These commissioned portraits create a robust, inclusive, and lasting visual record of remarkable individuals spanning House history, U.S. geography, and political affiliation.
The portrait of Patsy Mink will be on display soon in the Capitol.
Learn more about Patsy Mink and her legacy: