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March is Women’s History Month, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to share the artwork of some amazing women artists. Historically, the art world has been dominated by men. Unfortunately, this continues to be the case. On average, over 60% of MFA students are women, and only 30% of work shown in galleries is from women. This number decreases significantly when it comes to the representation of women of color.
A 2019 data analysis took a look at eighteen major art museums in the United States. On average, the collections in these art museums are 87% male and 85% white. It probably comes as no surprise that the value of women’s art is less than men’s. A 2019 report from the National Endowment for the Arts, found that 46% of visual artists in the US are women, but they earn 74¢ for every $1 earned by male artists.
While these statistics are alarming, many of us probably aren’t shocked by these results. While we might not be gallery owners or work at major art museums, we can disrupt this narrative by making a conscious effort to share more women artists with our students. Representation matters, and showcasing artists who look and relate to our students can make a big difference.
During the month of March, I challenge you to discover new women artists and share them with your students. This is a practice that should go beyond just one month, and applies to artists of color, artists with disabilites, and LGBTQIA+ artists; it’s a place to start. To jumpstart this list, here are ten women illustrators you need to know.
Laura Callaghan is an Irish illustrator whose work is packed full of colorful detail. Not all of her work would be appropriate for student viewers. But, you will find elements of pop culture and current events woven throughout her visual narratives.
Tara Krebs is a Toronto-based artist whose work is dominated by storytelling. Themes of nature, metaphor, identity, magic, and narrative can be identified in her work. Her earlier work is dominated by fantasy and tones of allegory. While some of her work is appropriate for student viewing, you will find nudity.
Aurélia Durand is a French graphic artist who explores illustration, digital art, animation, and more. She is also the illustrator of the New York Times bestseller, This Book is Anti-Racist, written by Tiffany Jewell. Aurélia’s work is bold, colorful, and seeks to represent diversity and power. Her artwork can be described as, “A vivid celebration of diversity, the artist amplifies Afro-descendants’ voices and their joyful, proud and empowered experiences.”
Camila Rosa is a Brazilian illustrator whose work captures social issues and a strong sense of feminism at its core. Her work can be described with minimalist shapes and a strong sense of complementary color schemes.
Andrea Pippins is a Swedish artist and former teacher residing in Stockholm. One of the constant themes in her work is creating what she wants to see. This theme comes from her experience of being underrepresented as a youth. Her hope is that others can see themselves in her work.
Monica Ahanonu is a Los Angelos-based illustrator who has expertise in color theory, vector illustration, and motion design. She is best known for her diverse range of portraits created in her notable style.
Melissa Koby is a Jamaica-born artist whose illustrations have a great sense of calming while representing social issues and the celebration of people of color. Her tranquil and peaceful illustrations will draw you in as she tackles important concepts in her work.
Daria Solak is a Polish artist whose illustrations bring a child-like feel with expressive mark making and colors. Bold patterns and repetition are strong characteristics you’ll see throughout her work.
Stacie Swift is an English artist whose work focuses on positivity, self-care, and mental wellbeing. Her positive words expressed with bright colors serve as reminders that it’s okay to struggle and to endure challenges.
Abigail Penner is a Nebraska-based artist whose artwork has enduring themes of darkness and sadness. But, from the dark and sad come beauty. Her work is characteristic of expressive lines and mark making with a sense of emotion coming from every drawing.
This list of ten amazing illustrators doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface! These women can serve as an inspiration for you and your students. Celebrate Women’s History Month by exploring this list and adding other incredible female illustrators and artists!
Who would you add to this list of amazing women?
How do you make sure you are representative of artists in your curriculum?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.