Abstract Sculptures of DC: She Who Must Be Obeyed

The sculpture uses color and geometric shape to complete the campus of the Frances Perkins Building.

A sky blue geometric giant, She Who Must Be Obeyed has stood beside the Department of Labor’s Frances Perkins Building since 1976. Commissioned by the General Services Administration as part of the “Art in Architecture'' program, Tony Smith was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts to complete the project. As one of America’s leading minimalist sculptors, the geometric design was similar to other sculptures Smith had completed.

Smith worked with welded steel plates to create the minimalist design, which consisted of two rhombuses stacked on top of each other, creating a rough V shape from the side. The top rhombus is larger than the one at the base, and imposes upon the viewer from above as it leans over them diagonally. Named after Henry Rider Haggard’s book She, Smith had originally wanted to title the sculpture under the same name, but instead used a phrase from the book used to describe the main character.

Placed at the Department of Labor building in 1976, the building was named in honor of Frances Perkins,  the first female cabinet secretary, in 1980.

This site is a stop on the Abstract Sculptures of DC tour.



200 Constitution Ave NW, 20210