Lady of the Alamo, Her Name is Courage
|Lady of the Alamo, Her Name is Courage”||20½” x 26″|
|200 Giclée Edition S/N||$395|
|20 A/P S/N||$430|
|16″ X 21″
|11″ X 14″
Her Name is Courage
The Inspiration: Susanna Dickinson
What began as the highest honor (being asked to do a piece to benefit the Alamo), quickly became my greatest challenge. Facing the daunting task of creating a work that honored the brave heroes of the Alamo almost overpowered me. Dipping into the depths of my experience and still coming up blank, I promised to open myself to whatever the Alamo spoke to me.
Given the rare opportunity to sketch in privacy within the Shrine, I could feel the presence of the dead heroes filling the space. Being inexplicably pulled to a room called the Sacristy, I sketched its arched doorway. Then I was taken to meet the Curator of the Alamo so he could answer any questions I might have. It was there I was struck by the sight of a tattered petticoat (shown in the artwork) as it was being preserved. It had belonged to Susanna Dickinson, one of the six women who survived the Battle of the Alamo. And the room where she and her baby had endured the siege had been the Sacristy, the very room that kept calling me.
Walking away I shivered with chills as I imagined her terror and despair over their desperate plight. Experiencing the purest sense of inspiration I have ever felt, I knew I had no other choice… I was supposed to do tribute to Susanna and the other women whom had stood in defense of freedom.
Delving into her story I learned her love for her husband, Almeron Dickinson, who had brought her to this place. They had moved from Tennessee to the frontiers of Texas in search of a future filled with limitless promise. As hostilities grew against the tyranny of Mexico, Almeron had proven his leadership with the cannon defenses at Gonzalez and now served as Commander of the Artillery at the Alamo. Only 22, Susanna had stayed fled within the walls of the Alamo with their baby so she could be near her husband’s side as Santa Anna approached.
Implored by Col. Travis on the last night of the siege to try to return his ring to his young son, she slipped it on a string and tied it around the neck of her 15 month old baby, Angelina. Now she carried yet one more burden as she faced the possibility of their impending death.
Yes, she had been given the opportunity to leave the sanctuary of the Alamo before the final onslaught began, but had chosen to remain with those brave souls who eventually fought to their death in defense of freedom. Much is made of those brave men who sacrificed their lives against the thousands of soldiers under Santa Anna, but the silent sacrifice of the courageous women with them also has its place of honor in our history.
What was in her heart, and in the hearts of the other women who chose to stay behind? We suggest it was those same words that are assigned to the heroes of the Alamo. Hope, Faith, Honor, Courage and Sacrifice. In this piece we find young Susanna contemplating her fate and the fate of her loved ones. The ring of Col. Travis is held in her hands. Overwhelmed with the weight of her burden, she has time to pause for one last prayer.
Capturing the depth of Susanna Dickinson’s emotions was the most difficult thing I have ever attempted. Many tears were shed with her at my drawing table as I struggled to portray her grief and despair. Creating a piece where every woman can step inside to help her carry the burden became an obsession. I hope I have done her honor.
Additional information related to the LADY OF THE ALAMO story…
It is reported that Susanna was brought before Santa Ana during the morning following the battle and was and invited to accompany him to Mexico to become a part of his concubine. She refused, and was put on a wagon and sent toward Gonzales to spread the word about what had happened at the Alamo.
Susanna Dickinson lived her final years in Austin, Texas, where she died at age 87. Susanna’s daughter Angelina died in her mid-60’s, after having spent most of her life in Austin.
Charles Travis, who was 9 at the time of the battle, never received the ring his father wanted him to have. Years later, Susanna reported in an interview that about one year after the Alamo Battle, a gentleman knocked on her door and introduced himself as Col. Travis’ best friend from boyhood in Alabama. She gave him the ring, asking that he find young Charles.
Records indicate that Charles spent some time as a Texas Ranger at age 17. He reportedly died at the young age of 27.
Col. Travis’s ring came back to the Alamo 109 years later. In 1945, a gentleman arrived at the Alamo with the Travis ring indicating it had been in his family for many generations. At a recent reunion the family had decided the ring should be returned to the Alamo. It is presently on display in San Antonio in a glass case in the Long Barracks.
The petticoat depicted in the piece is copied from one of Susanna’s actual petticoats that is part of the Alamo achieves. It was presented to the museum by Angelina, following her mother’s passing around 1902.
The Artist: Sherry Steele is a pen and ink artist from Austin, TX. Self-taught, she has created a unique technique of stippling and overlaying various shades of colored ink to create an almost three dimensional result in her art. Shunning the traditional approach of using watercolor washes over pen and ink, she mixes all of her own colors of permanent inks and literally “paints with her pens”. Constantly pushing the limits of this unforgiving medium, Sherry is recognized for depicting the full range of human emotions in her subjects.”
Dedicated to all those who have had to carry on, after the battle was over.”