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Shining a Light on Women in the Arts

Thursday, March 14, 2024

One of Erin’s art collectors recently shared that he and his partner visited the Tate Museum and saw the Guerrilla Girls exhibition. After enjoying their work, he was proud to say that he is a collector of predominantly female artists. 

The Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of female feminist artists spreading activist messages through artwork and media. They use art, statistics, film, audio, and the written word to spread their message.

The art collector who shared his experience with us also mentioned some of his favorite female artists in his letter, and this got the Gallery team thinking that we should shine a light on some of the many outstanding female artists, both contemporary and historical.

Shining a Light on Women in the Arts

Millions of exceptional female artists have created everything from sculpture to painting to photographs to literature and beyond. A few prominent female artists we learn about today in high school include Frida Khalo, Mary Shelley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mary Cassatt, and Jane Austen. The works of these women are significant and have shaped modern art and literature. 

Let’s discuss and shine a light on more female artists!

Read on to find your next favorite woman artist:

Julia S. Powell
1978 - present
Landscape painter Julia S. Powell has created works in both oil and watercolor. She mainly depicts natural spaces and animals. Her pieces have appeared on television as well as in private collections worldwide. You can view her work on her website.
Fall River by Julia S Powell

Amy Sherald

1973 - present

Famed for her portraits of black cultural history, including the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, Amy Sherald creates stunning oil paintings. Her works are filled with color and meaning and often defy stereotyping. 

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald, Image provided by National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

G.H. Roethe

1935 - 2007
Master of the mezzotint, G.H. Roethe, was a prolific artist who created over 70,000 mezzotints in her lifetime. She hand-engraved her work with diamonds and utilized her own method to create intricate and vibrant engravings for all to enjoy. Her work is mainly found in private collections.

Faith Ringgold

1930 - present
A contemporary artist, Faith Ringgold is a painter, mixed media, and performance artist, as well as a writer and lecturer. Her work focuses on the black experience with layers of activism and traditionalism. Many of her pieces include story quilts, masks, sculptures, and other fabric arts traditional to Africa, the United States, and Tibet. Her work can be viewed on her website.

Yoyoi Kasama
1929 - present
A contemporary artist, Yoyoi Kasuma is well-known for incorporating polka dots into her art pieces. She has explained that the dots she always returns to in her artwork are a way for her to become one with the piece.

Louise Nevelson

Artist Louise Nevelson mainly focused on sculpture. Her work reflected her interest in shadow and space. Her work can be seen in the Tate Gallery in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute in Chicago, and elsewhere. 

Lunar Landscape, Louise Nevelson

Anna Althea Hills

California Impressionist Anna Althea Hills created works ranging from still life pieces to landscapes, often depicting scenes around California. Currently, her paintings hang in the Laguna Art Museum, the Irvine Museum, the Fleisher Museum, and the Orange County Museum.

The Quiet Sea, Anna Althea Hills

Jesse Arms Botke

1883 - 1971
Jesse Arms Botke created incredible works utilizing gold leaf, oil, watercolor, and gouache. Her work features vibrant images of birds, including white peacocks, blue peacocks, cockatoos, ducks, swans, geese, pheasants, and toucans. 

Demoiselle Cranes, Jessie Arms Botke

M. DeNeale Morgan

1868 - 1948
Mary DeNeale Morgan (known as M. DeNeale Morgan) was a watercolorist, oil painter, and printmaker who worked en plein air. Rooted in the artistic community in Carmel, California, M. DeNeale Morgan was part of the California impressionist movement. 

Morgan Desert Palms, Mary DeNeale

Grandma Moses

1860 - 1961
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, or "Grandma Moses," was the mother of five children, a homemaker, and a farmer's wife who enjoyed creating art throughout her life. Discovered by a New York art collector and dubbed "Grandma Moses" by New York's Herald Tribune, Moses grew in popularity late in life and exhibited her work internationally between the ages of 90 and 101. Her work is not only beautiful, but it also reminds us that passion for art knows no age or gender.

Emma Löwstädt-Chadwick

1855 - 1932
Swedish artist Emma Löwstädt-Chadwick painted in both France and Sweden. Her works were regularly exhibited in the Salon and she worked to modernize Swedish art with her contemporary (for the time) impressionist art and en plein air painting style.

A Sleeping Child, Emma Löwstädt-Chadwick

Eva Gonzalès

Referred to as "one of the three great ladies" of female impressionist painters in France, Eva Gonzalès was deeply influenced by Manet in her paintings. She mainly depicted people, painting both portraits and French people participating in daily life. Though she died young due to complications from childbirth, she created a prolific amount of paintings in her short life.

Morning Awakening, Eva Gonzalès

Berthe Morisot

1841 - 1895
Another of France's "great ladies of impressionism," Berthe Morisot, had a close professional relationship with Manet and participated in the 1874 exhibition known as the first exhibition of the Impressionists. As she grew as an artist, she began to push the boundaries of impressionism, exploring loose brushstrokes and painting on different media.

Lady at her Toilette, Berthe Morisot

Marie Bracquemond

1840 - 1916
French painter Marie Bracquemond was referred to as “one of the three great ladies” of the impressionist movement, though she remained obscure during her lifetime. Her works transition from realism to en plein air impressionist pieces to vibrant and colorful pieces that she painted in her garden cum studio.

Under the Lamp, Marie Bracquemond

Artemisia Gentileschi

1593 - 1653
Female artists abound across history, though it can be challenging to find them. Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian artist who painted during the Baroque period and was known for creating paintings from a female point of view - not a common perspective at the time. She once said, "You will find the spirit of Caesar in the soul of a woman."

Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

Catharina van Hemessen

1528 - 1587
Dutch Renaissance painter Catharina van Hemessen was well-known in her time, but her name faded after her death. Fortunately, many of her pieces survive. She is likely the originator of the self-portrait, a form of art that painters from Van Gogh to Frida Khalo have duplicated. 

Catharina van Hemessen (Self Portrait)

Plautilla Nelli

1524 - 1588
Renaissance painter Plautilla Nelli was a nun by age 14 and lived in a convent. The first known female painter from Florence, Italy, she ran a studio out of her convent and became a well-known devotional painter during her lifetime.

The Last Supper, Plautilla Nelli

Herrad von Landsberg

1130 - 1195
French nun and abbess Herrad von Landsberg was the author and artist of the Hortus Deliciarum, an illuminated manuscript that collected songs, poetry, music, philosophy, and more from many artists worldwide. People, religious and lay alike, used this manuscript/encyclopedia.

Hortus Deliciarum, Herrad of Landsberg

Hildegard of Bingen

1098 - 1179
Also known as Saint Hildegard, Hildegard of Bingen was a German nun and prioress as well as a poet and composer. She created many writings, treatises, and compositions and invented her own language. She sounds like a fascinating person to know, and her compositions can still be enjoyed today. You can find them under Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum


5th century BCE
Greek poet Myrtess was highly regarded for her elegies and epigrams, primarily honoring the deceased. Sadly, her work has been lost to time. Her only known poem, about a girl named Ochna, was paraphrased by Plutarch in his works, but none of her poems were documented in their original form.

Helena of Egypt

Probably 4th century BCE
Painter Helena of Egypt is believed to have painted a famous work called Battle of Issos. This piece was credited to her in Ptolemy Hephaestion’s New History, which is not really a credible source, but it’s the best one we have for such an ancient piece. 

Battle of Issos, Roman copy of the original art 

found in the Naples National Archaeological Museum, Public domain

Erin Hanson 
Contemporary Female Artist

1981 - Present

You likely know Erin Hanson's work as you are reading this article on The Erin Hanson Gallery website. Hanson paints vibrant impressionist works focusing on landscapes across the United States and occasionally expanding into overseas landscapes, as can be seen in her paintings from Kyoto, Japan, and her upcoming Reflections of the Seine series.

Kyoto Pines, Erin Hanson

Hanson began painting when she was eight, carrying her passion forward through her teen years as she worked in a mural studio and took classes at Otis College of Art. From there, she went to UC Berkeley, attaining a degree in Bioengineering. 

From California, she moved to Nevada, where she continued to create art, capturing the vivacity of the iconic red rocks in the area. As she pursued a full-time career in the arts, Hanson committed to creating one painting every week, a commitment she has stuck to for almost two decades. 

Monument Clouds, Erin Hanson

In 2006, Hanson developed her signature open impressionist painting style, which she still uses today. Hanson's paintings are all preplanned, with the paints premixed from a limited palette of pure pigments. She uses long, bold brushstrokes to depict the motion and vibrance of the natural world. Each piece celebrates the play of light and shadow in these landscapes and captures everything the artist felt and saw in one fleeting moment. When Monet named the painting that gave the impressionist movement its name "Impression, Sunrise," we like to think he was doing just what Hanson does with her work: trying to capture a fleeting moment in paint.

October Vines, Erin Hanson

Erin Hanson's work can be found at The Erin Hanson Gallery in McMinnville, Oregon, and in museums and semi-public collections across the United States, including the St George Art Museum, Hilbert Museum of California Art, La Salle University Art Museum, Mattatuck Art Museum, Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, and The Allegretto Vineyard Resort.

You can enjoy all of Erin Hanson's work here. 



Erin Hanson ArtistERIN HANSON has been painting in oils since she was 8 years old. As a young artist, she worked at a mural studio creating 40-foot-tall paintings on canvas, while selling art commissions on the side. After getting a degree in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, Erin became a rock climber at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Inspired by the colorful scenery she was climbing, she decided to paint one painting every week for the rest of her life. She has stuck to that decision ever since, becoming one of the most prolific artists in history. Erin Hanson's style is known as "Open Impressionism" and is now taught in art schools worldwide. With thousands of collectors eagerly anticipating her work and millions of followers online, Hanson has become an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of contemporary impressionism.

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