Dorothy Irene Height was a giant in the Civil Rights and Women's Rights movements. When it came to honoring her with a Google Doodle, there was no doubt in our minds that we should do one, but the question of how was something we considered for quite some time.
"Portrait" doodles are a lot like illustrations you see on currency or stamps. There's definitely an air of dignity and reverence about them and while a bit atypical to the the quirkier things we celebrate, such as Pac-Man or Dr. Who, there is still room to make them stand out creatively. You can see here that I haven't gotten that far yet. It's just a scanned in drawing with some digital touch-ups to darken things up a bit.
I looked to the trends of magazine illustrations in the 60s happening around the same time of the Civil Rights movement. One thing I really like about this era in illustration is the ability to take photo referenced images, then mash them together in graphically interesting ways, utilizing line, value, lost and found edges, pattern, etc.
I wanted to utilize this technique to call out several things regarding Dorothy Height:
- To depict not just her, but her cause. In this case, represented by the marching crowd of women alongside her.
- The marching crowd becomes an abstract series of dots, making their way into the form of her portrait – she was the voice of many.
- She often wore beautiful, large, ornate, purple hats. She wore these throughout her life, but was most often photographed in them at a later age. The purple dominates the color scheme of the doodle. The hat usually seen on an older Dorothy Height being seen here on a younger Dorothy Height signifies her being an advocate for change her entire life.
Michael Cavna of the Washington Post wrote a very elegant piece on Dr. Height, illustrating her life with words my paintbrushes were incapable of rendering.
Happy 102nd, Dr. Dorothy Irene Height!