5 Female Feminist Artists You Need To Know
CW: number 3. & number 4. contain nudity. Number 3. also mentions rape and has blood in the photograph
Feminism has been a longstanding point of interest to artists for as long as we could create. When I say artists I am referring to female in particular but this is changing as we become more liberal and fluid with gender. The first few search results when searching feminist art are Frida Kahlo, Judy Chicago, Miriam Schipiro, Guerrilla Girls etc and as amazing and inspiring as they are I want to take the time to introduce 5 more feminists to the rota!
Challenging the representation of the female black body, Lorna Simpson is an African-American photographer and multimedia artist who made her name in the 1980s and 1990s with artworks such as the one above (Guarded Conditions). You can see clearly in Simpsons work that notions of feminism run through in terms of the body and control. Exploring further themes such as sexuality, identity and politics, Lorna Simpsons ‘anti-portraits’ express contemporary societies relationship with race and ethnicity in an almost scientific manner.
2. VALIE EXPORT
VALIE EXPORT’s work spans from video installations, body performances and expanded cinema, to computer animations, photography and sculptures. This feminist icon created work in which the female body isn’t controlled by anyone but the woman herself and although Austrias press coverage at the time (1970s) was anything but kind, VALIE challenged the societal roles in relation to women.
3. Ana Mendieta
Best known for her “earth-body” artwork, Ana Mendieta was a Cuban American performance artist, painter, sculptor and video artist. The above photograph (‘untitled (rape scene)’ ) was created in 1973 in response to the highly publicised rape and murder of Sara Ann Otten by a fellow student. The first of three works in response to Saras murder, the above was staged forensically identical to published crime scene photos from Saras horrific murder. In the use of blood, Ana carries a strong political message in the form of a call to awareness of violence against women.
4. Ewa Partum
Ewa Partum is a poetry, film, mail and conceptual artist who’s work explores issues regarding gender bias and female identity. Throughout the 1970s and 80s she made challenging and pioneering feminist art under the confines of Communist Poland. Focusing on the harm of expectations due to these traditional gender biases, Ewa’s incredible work in feminist movements meant her involvement in WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Summing it up finely, Partum stated ‘it is the obligation of every woman to be a feminist’ (TateShots, 2017)
5. J C Cowans
Also known as @farfromjaded, Jade creates beautiful pieces of work with the concept of reflecting self and others. Seeing human beings holistically and as an amalgamation of things, the art created is inclusive and tells a tale of empowerment, honesty and softness. Jade Cowans current body of work - titled ‘Sister Series’ - celebrates the intricacies and narratives of sisterhood. When speaking to Jade, she beautifully stated “it is my wish that every woman sees herself in my work; that she sees strength, resilience, intellect, vulnerability, integrity, beauty and that she recognises these traits in her own being.”
And their we have it! 5 more phenomenal feminists to add to your art rota, support, research and celebrate!
Article by Rebecca Hancock