10/01/2012 02:30 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2012

Women Of The 112th Tumblr, By Student Emily Nemens, Showcases Watercolor Portraits Of Women In Congress (PHOTOS)

Though women's issues have been a major focus during this election cycle, women still only make up 17 percent of the United States' legislative branch. It was this stark discrepancy that inspired 29-year-old Emily Nemens to take action -- with her paintbrush. Nemens began painting watercolor portraits of the women in congress and posting them on the Women Of The 112th Tumblr. The results are pretty stunning.

Nemens, a Seattle native and current graduate student at Louisiana State University, said it was watching Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on TV that led her to begin painting women in Congress. "After watching Michele Bachmann stutter through the primary debates [in 2011] (but look so good doing it!), I decided the House had to follow. Political art [just] felt like a good fit," she told The Huffington Post in an email.

Part of what fascinates Nemens so much about these political women is how they are often scrutinized for their looks in a way that their male counterparts are not.

"I think women have to put a lot more effort into their appearance than their male counterparts," Nemens told The Huffington Post. "With some of these outfits I bet it's pure, happy self-expression via wardrobe -- plenty of women like dressing up. But to see such a line up of brightly-colored power suits, big jewelry and blowouts, I've got to believe that there's external pressure on them, too, to conform to a set of beauty guidelines." Just this past May, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was criticized for appearing in front of a camera wearing glasses and -- the horror! -- no makeup. And anytime Michelle Obama or Ann Romney make public appearances, their attire receives as much public commentary as their words.

Besides showcasing the (fairly incredible) array of style choices that Congressional women make, Nemens hopes that her portraits drive home a simple point: "If you lined up these portraits you'd have 47 feet of women in power up against over 200 feet of men. This project's shown me [that] the country has a long way to go," she wrote.

LOOK: Portraits Of Women In Congress From The Women Of The 112th Tumblr



Women In Congress