The Smithsonian American Art Museum is proud to announce the third iteration of our graphic storytelling series, Drawn to Art: Tales of Inspiring Women Artists, featuring artists Laura Aguilar, Tanya Aguiñiga, Emma Amos, Chitra Ganesh, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Lilly Martin Spencer, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow), Miriam Schapiro, and Consuelo Jimenez Underwood.
The project features web comics highlighting underrepresented women artists and visionaries whose work is in SAAM’s collection. We are so pleased to continue to partner with the Ringling College of Art and Design and their incredible student-illustrators to make these stories come to life.
We believe the ten women artists chosen for the new series show the variety of our collection. Whether it’s engaging in the Black power movement of the 1960s like Barbara Jones-Hogu, blurring the line between art and craft like feminist Miriam Schapiro, or critiquing Indigenous stereotypes in media like Wendy Red Star, these women have broken barriers in their fields, inspiring others to do the same.
“Seeing the stories of women artists made central in this creative project from the nation’s preeminent museum of American art gives girls and women a chance to see themselves represented and to draw inspiration from these shared experiences,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "The Drawn to Art project captures wonderfully SAAM’s role, whether in person or online, as a place that creates connection, wonder and understanding.”
In 2021 when the project launched, we focused on the lives of Berenice Abbott, Anni Albers, Romaine Brooks, Maria Oakey Dewing, Carmen Herrera, Corita Kent, Edmonia Lewis, Kay Sekimachi, Alma Thomas, and Mickalene Thomas. These women span across time and media, but are connected through their dedication to their artmaking practice. Last year, we continued telling these important stories by choosing ten additional artists: Judy Baca, Tiffany Chung, Sonya Clark, Sarah Goodridge, Ester Hernandez, Loïs Mailou Jones, Nellie Mae Rowe, Augusta Savage, Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation), and Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee Nation).
These first twenty comics only just begun to tell the story of the rich community of women artists represented in SAAMs collection. With many more stories to tell and comics to be made, we decided to highlight ten more inspirational artists this year. Of course, this wouldn't be possible without the dedicated work of this year’s Ringling College students Sky Chandler, Ati Gor, Stephanie Hunton, Elena May binti Saini Jeffery, Zahra Merchant, Irene Pae, Ana Parra, Sami Sulzer, Tyler Tjaden, and Cat Vo. They beautifully illustrated these stories, portraying weaving, painting, murals and more, bringing personal artistic style to each comic.
Over the next year we will publish individual stories focusing on each of these comics. In these posts we’ll hear from the illustrators as they share personal insights into the creation of the comics.
We hope these comics are as inspiring as they are informational. Despite the odds, these women continued to create, standing as a testament to the importance of art in times of hardship. The determination, perseverance, and dedication to their craft is admirable and we are so happy to share these stories with you.
Can art make a difference in your life? We think so! And after reading the comics, we hope you’re inspired to learn more about each artist, while also holding them up as a mirror to see yourself, perhaps in a whole new light.
We invite you to share their stories with your friends and young people in your life. Read the Drawn to Art comics.