DCU and Accenture reveal five new artists for Women on Walls initiative

25 Jun 2020

Still from ‘Artist Jim FitzPatrick reflects on a revolutionary career at Inspirefest 2019’. Image: Inspirefest HQ/YouTube

Jim FitzPatrick is among five artists commissioned to help celebrate leading women in STEM as part of the DCU and Accenture Women on Walls initiative.

Five award-winning and internationally acclaimed artists have been selected for Accenture’s Women on Walls initiative at Dublin City University (DCU), with the aim of celebrating women pioneers in STEM through a series of commissioned portraits.

The portraits will be hung in the Future-Tech building at DCU’s Glasnevin campus and aims to make more women leaders visible to inspire future generations to follow in their footsteps.

A framed image of the five artists commissioned for Women on Walls.

The commissioned artists pictured clockwise from bottom-left corner: Una Sealy, Blaise Smith, Bríd Higgins Ní Chinnéide, Jim FitzPatrick and Jackie Hudson Lalor. Image: DCU

The five women in STEM and the artists who will paint them are:

Beatrice Alice Hicks (1919-1979)

The first president of the Society of Women Engineers and developer of a gas density switch used in the Apollo 11 moon landing. She will be painted by Kilkenny-based figurative painter Blaise Smith.

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020)

Most recently celebrated in the film Hidden Figures, Johnson was one of the first African American women to work as a NASA scientist. She will be painted by Louth-based visual artist Jackie Hudson Lalor.

Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971)

A leading x-ray crystallographer who was the first woman to be a professor at University College London and was the first woman president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. She will be painted by Dublin-based figurative painter Una Sealy.

Marie Maynard Daly (1921-2003)

Daly was the first African American women in the US to earn a PhD in chemistry and revealed the relationship between high cholesterol and clogged arteries. She will be painted by Dublin-based figurative painter Bríd Higgins Ní Chinnéide.

Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty (1921-2006)

One of the world’s first computer programmers, McNulty was one of only three women maths graduates in a class of 92 when she graduated in 1942. She was also behind the invention of the subroutine. McNulty will be painted by former Inspirefest speaker Jim FitzPatrick, who is the artist behind the famous two-tone, red and black painting of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

‘Where are the women?’

Speaking of the initiative, DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said the calibre of the five artists chosen “is a reflection of the five extraordinary and inspirational women they will portray”.

Dr Michelle Cullen, managing director and head of inclusion and diversity at Accenture, added: “People we see on the walls can tell us about the past, and about the people who paved the way. But sometimes, they only tell half the story.

“Women on Walls began in response to the simple question, where are the women? As a graduate of DCU, it is a particular honour for me to see Accenture’s Women on Walls at DCU become a reality.”

Last year, five portraits were hung as part of the initiative in the boardroom of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s historic building on St Stephen’s Green.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic