Unsung Women in History: Artists

Although Women’s History Month is coming to close, today is one more opportunity to share stories about the women who paved the way and opened opportunities for women today and even further in the future. As discussed in other “Women in History” blog posts, women have always struggled and continue to struggle for equality career fields like STEM, politics and more. However, one debatably less talked about of these career fields is in the arts. We’ve profiled women with different mediums of art and how they made an impact in the fields of their areas of expertise:

Georgia O’Keeffe

Living in a variety of different locations including Wisconsin, Chicago, New York and New Mexico, Georgia O’Keeffe painted canvas works of flowers, skyscrapers, southeastern landscapes and more. As a young girl, her mother, who was a doctor, encouraged her to get an education. O’Keeffe developed curiosity for nature and painting at an early age and later took her mother’s advice and studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and later, the Art Students League in New York. Later in her life, O’Keeffe received the Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts. Her work today is displayed in museums across the country. As a pioneer in painting and art in general, O’Keeffe left a legacy of being a successful women and an icon in art.

Lee Miller

Lee Miller was introduced to photography at a young age by her father. Her career in the arts began with modelling, however, after she met Conde Nast, the publisher of Vogue, which launched her into being the cover model for an issue of the magazine in 1927. Miller travelled to Paris just a few years later to pursue photography. Arguably one of the most incredible aspects of her career was when she began working in photojournalism as the official war photographer for Vogue. During this time, Miller photographed many women in wartime including female officers and nurses. In 1932, Miller stated in an interview that photography was a profession perfectly suitable for women, encouraging females to pursue the art. Her legacy lives on today as many of her works gained even more recognition after her death and as many have been or are currently on display in exhibitions across the nation.

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was a poet whose work revolved around themes of race, gender and sexuality. Starting out her career as a librarian after studying at Columbia University, it wasn’t until she was 34 that she published her first volume of poetry titled First Cities. The following volumes of poetry she published each centered on different topics and issues. From identity issues and global issues to discussion of her African heritage, sexuality and feminist views, Lorde’s influential work undoubtedly made an impact on her audiences and critics, having won numerous awards including an American Book Award. For women of all sorts, Lorde’s work and legacy emphasizes that success in art and poetry is not limited to who you are based on age, race, gender, sexuality, or other factors.