Skip to product information
1 of 10

Breaking Barriers (Ode To Dorothy Vaughan)

Breaking Barriers (Ode To Dorothy Vaughan)


Type | Original gold and natural pearl cyanotype

Inspiration | Dorothy Vaughan

Year | 2023 

Materials | Cyanotype, handmade paper, 6-carat white gold leaf and hand stitched natural pearls

32.3in x 45.3 x 2.2in (Frame Depth) 


This artwork is inspired by American computer programmer and mathematician Dorothy Vaughan. Making significant contributions to the early U.S. space program, she was also the first Black American supervisor at NACA. A role she would continue to hold up to and beyond its merger with NASA, spending her entire career helping America stay ahead of the curve during the space race. Dorothy Vaughan became an expert FORTRAN programmer, and she also contributed to the Scout Launch Vehicle Program.

Vaughan demonstrated outstanding talent, dedication, determination and sacrifice in advancing both computing activities and racial and gender equality, her actions and inspiration paved the way for NASA’s diverse workforce. A brilliant, dedicated, trailblazing pioneer, she represents what is possible with guts, determination and an indomitable spirit.

Women Who Changed The World
This series is a story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program—and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.

A powerful, revelatory history essential to our understanding of race, discrimination, and achievement in modern America. Interweaving the rich history of scientific achievement and technological innovation with the intimate stories of these courageous, intelligent and determined women whose work forever changed the world—and whose lives show how out of one of America’s most painful histories came one of its proudest moments.


Breaking Barriers (Ode To Dorothy Vaughan) was created by constructing a hand-cut collage using photographic portraiture, a halo made from an illustration of mathematical apparatus and an astrolabe, photographs of the moon and overlays of FORTRAN computer punch cards. Her dress is made of paper and I included photographs of antique jewellery representing the symbols of AKA sorority along with hand stitching natural pearls.

In a time when black women faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they went to work as “calculators” at NASA. With pencils, paper, and slide rules, they transformed aeroplane, rocket, and satellite designs—and ensured a World War II victory. Despite the social and political climate at the height

of Jim Crow, these women rose up and became integral to the project that put the first man on the moon. This is my celebratory ode to Dorothy Vaughan and her incredible mind.


My model's dress was made from huge sheets of crumpled paper to symbolise the meticulous work Dorothy and her team undertook when calculating and programming computers using this early method all done on paper and punch cards.

To symbolise her being a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority I incorporated the symbols onto her dress and headdress.

Pink tea rose- Women of AKA are like the pink teas rose unfolding in shadows of green and pink and represent a woman of serene nature Ladies these are the symbols of AKA and the definitions as set forth forth by our chapter

The green enamelled ivy leaf- The ivy Leaf signifies strong and lasting friendship. This association is derived from its ability to stay attached to a rocky surface in even the most inhospitable conditions. Women of Alpha Kappa Alpha exude strength and endurance like the green ivy leaf.

The mirror-
It is often misconceived as an item of vanity. However in truth for ladies of AKA. We look into a mirror not to look upon our vanity, but because when we look to a mirror in our reflection we seek to see all the virtues that represent a lady of AKA.

The Pearl Necklace- “represents the foundation and founders of AKA, they set the standard...we keep it alive”. Upon Initiation into the sorority, new members receive a necklace with 20 pearls. Sixteen of the pearls represent the founders and four of the pearls represent the ladies who incorporated the sorority.


Framed: 32.3in x 45.3 x 2.2in (Frame Depth)


Handmade recycled cotton rag paper:
640gsm / 100% Cotton Rag / Recycled / Acid Free / Medium Rough


We use float mounting for all of our framed cyanotypes. The artwork floats above a snow-white 8001 mount board, to showcase the paper texture and deckled edging.


Framed artwork will arrive ready to hang. Each frame is handmade by our London based design team.

All frames come with gallery spec, Artglass AR70 / 3mm anti-reflective/ 79% UV protected glazing as standard.

If clients would like a bespoke frame, please let me know as I can have them made in alternative colours, gilding and glazing options.

Regular price $10,500.00
Regular price Sale price $10,500.00
Sale Sold out
View full details