women in the arts, including a painting by af klimt

Women in the Arts: Why Do We Spotlight Their Stories at DesignDash?

6 min read

You might have noticed that we highlight many historical female figures in architecture, interior design, the sciences, and the fine and literary arts. From art historian Linda Nochlin to sculptor and activist Augusta Savage, so many women are not honored nearly often or exuberantly enough. Their contributions are significant, but their place in history is often filled by men with similar achievements and more palatable perspectives for their time. Let’s delve into the many reasons why we at DesignDash seek to spotlight the stories of women in the arts. Read on to learn more! 

Why We Prioritize the Stories and Achievements of Women in the Arts

@designdasher Wondering why we always highlight female artists throughout history? Well, here’s the very important reason #greenscreen #designdasher #designdash #femaleartist #artist #femaleempowerment ♬ original sound – DesignDash

By highlighting these women artists, DesignDash can play a role in correcting historical oversights and biases. Many talented women artists were overshadowed by their male counterparts due to the gender biases prevalent in their times. Giving them visibility now helps in acknowledging and appreciating their contributions to the arts and creative fields. Below are other reasons why we highlight these amazing women of the art world.

Inspiration and Role Models

Stories of women who persisted in their creative endeavors despite challenges can be highly inspirational. For women entrepreneurs today, learning about the resilience and determination of these artists can serve as motivation and provide role models who overcame significant barriers.

Awareness of Gender Inequality

Featuring these stories can help in raising awareness about the gender inequalities that have existed and continue to exist in creative fields. It fosters a deeper understanding of the challenges women face and the importance of creating a more equitable environment.

Community Building

Sharing these narratives can foster a sense of community and solidarity among women in creative professions. It can create a space where women feel supported and understood, which is crucial for entrepreneurs who often work in isolation.

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Educational Value

These stories have educational value, offering insights into the history of art and entrepreneurship from a gendered perspective. They can provide lessons in history, culture, and the economics of art, valuable for anyone in the creative industry.

Advocacy and Change

By bringing these stories to light, DesignDash can advocate for change in how women artists and entrepreneurs are treated and perceived. This aligns with a broader movement towards gender equality in all professional fields.

Diversity in Content

Highlighting these artists diversifies the content offered by DesignDash. It enriches the range of narratives and perspectives, making the platform more inclusive and interesting.

Cultural Relevance

In a time when there is a strong cultural focus on uncovering and righting past wrongs, these stories resonate with contemporary audiences who are increasingly conscious of social justice issues.

A Few of the Amazing Women We Have Profiled at DesignDash

Sculptor, Teacher, and Equal Rights Activist August Savage

August Savage was an influential African American sculptor, teacher, and equal rights activist during the Harlem Renaissance. Born in 1892 in Florida, she faced numerous racial and financial barriers but persevered to become a prominent artist. Savage is best known for her work that explored themes of social injustice and racial inequality. As an educator, she was committed to teaching art to young African American students, fostering a new generation of artists. Her most notable works include “The Harp” and the bust “Gamin.”

Read more about her here.

Architect and Designer Florence Knoll

An architect and designer, Florence Knoll Bassett (1917-2019) was a pivotal figure in the mid-century modern design movement. As the creative force behind the furniture company Knoll Associates, she revolutionized interior space planning and furniture design. Her approach emphasized simplicity and functionality, and she collaborated with other renowned designers to create iconic pieces of modern furniture.

Read more about her here.

Abstract Artist Emily Mason

Attribution: Stevenrrose, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Emily Mason (1932-2019) was an American abstract artist known for her vibrant, color-rich canvases. Her work is characterized by its lyrical, spontaneous style and layered, luminous colors. Mason’s technique involved pouring, brushing, and scraping paint onto the canvas, creating fluid, dynamic compositions. Her career spanned over six decades, and she was part of a movement that extended the language of abstract expressionism.

Read more about her here.

Feminist Art Historian Linda Nochlin

Linda Nochlin (1931-2017) was a prominent feminist art historian whose 1971 essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” revolutionized the field of art history. Her work challenged the institutional barriers preventing women from succeeding in the arts. Nochlin’s scholarship was instrumental in the development of feminist art theory and criticism.

Read more about her here.

Modern Dancer and Choreographer Martha Graham

Martha Graham (1894-1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer, whose impact on dance has been compared to the influence Picasso had on visual arts. She invented a new language of movement, and her choreography emphasized expressiveness and emotional intensity. Graham’s career spanned over seven decades, and she created 181 ballets, many of which are considered masterpieces.

Read more about her here.

French Painter Suzanne Valadon

French painter Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) began her career as a model for famous artists before becoming a respected painter herself. Her work is known for its bold lines and vibrant colors, and she often depicted the female nude, still life, and landscapes. Valadon was the first woman admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Read more about her here.

Brooklyn Bridge Architect and Engineer Emily Warren Roebling

Emily Warren Roebling (1843-1903) was instrumental in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. After her husband, the chief engineer, became ill, she took over many of the project’s responsibilities, including day-to-day supervision and project management. Her contributions were critical to the bridge’s completion and she is often credited with ensuring the project’s success.

Read more about her here.

Reclusive Finnish Painter Helene Schjerfbeck

A reclusive Finnish painter, Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) is celebrated for her realist and expressionist works. Her art evolved over her career, from detailed naturalistic paintings to more abstract and simplified compositions. Schjerfbeck is best known for her self-portraits, landscapes, and still lifes.

Read more about her here.

Animalière Artist Rosa Bonheur

Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) was a French artist and a pioneer among women in the arts. She specialized in the animalière style, or the painting of animals, achieving widespread fame and success in a male-dominated field. Her most famous work is “The Horse Fair,” which exhibits her meticulous attention to anatomical accuracy and movement.

Read more about her here.

Pritzker Prize Winning Architect Zaha Hadid

Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) was known for her radical deconstructivist designs. She was the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Her notable works include the MAXXI museum in Rome and the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics. Hadid’s work was characterized by its futuristic shapes and sense of fluidity.

Read more about her here.

Swedish Spiritualist Artist Hilma Af Klint

Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) was a pioneer of abstract art, whose work predated Kandinsky, often considered the father of abstract painting. Af Klint’s spiritualist beliefs significantly influenced her abstract, symbolic artwork. Her paintings were not widely recognized until decades after her death.

Read more about her here.

Oberlander Prize Winning Landscape Architect Julie Bargmann

An innovative figure in landscape architecture, Julie Bargmann is known for her focus on regenerative landscapes. She won the inaugural Oberlander Prize in 2021, recognizing her contributions to environmentally and socially sustainable design. Bargmann’s work often involves transforming post-industrial sites into public spaces.

Read more about her here.

Who Will We Feature Next?

  • Erna Rosenstein
  • Agnes Pelton
  • Alma Thomas
  • Lotte Laserstein
  • Tarsila do Amaral
  • Michaelina Wautier
  • Elisabetta Sirani
  • Lavinia Fontana
  • Sofonisba Anguissola
  • Käthe Kollwitz
  • Emily Carr
  • Amrita Sher-Gil
  • Zinaida Serebriakova
  • Tamara de Lempicka
  • Faith Ringgold
  • Bridget Riley
  • Louise Bourgeois

Final Thoughts on Celebrating Women in the Arts

Through these efforts, DesignDash not only honors the legacy of past women artists but also reinforces its commitment to empowering and supporting today’s women in creative entrepreneurship. Remember: there have always been great women artists. Their contributions have simply been obscured throughout history. Please let us know in the comments if there are any women in the arts or sciences that you would love to see celebrated.