11 Female Artists You Should Follow Right Now
In celebration of International Women's Day, I thought I would spread some love and share a few truly kickass female artists who are doing their best to bring beauty, honesty, truth and color to the world. These are women who will brighten your morning, challenge your lifestyle and honestly make you think "yeah, maybe hands are meant for making things and maybe women are meant to be the ones making them!". And while much respect is to be paid to women who paved the way throughout history to get us to where we are today, all of these names belong to artists who are alive and creating today. So get inspired! Make something! Buy art! Support female artists!
Rachel Castle is an Australian-based artists and probably one of my favorite active artists, based on color and aesthetics alone. But when you add in her optimism, wit, and innovation, she's simply irresistible. Rachel started her own company called Castle and Things, creating colorful and whimsical linens and home furnishings but she also operates as an independent artist - producing original paintings, felt embroidery, and silkscreen prints. I love her hand-stitched pieces the most, hand-cut and sewn onto heirloom fabrics with peppy quips like "FEELS LIKE HOME TO ME" AND "I LOVE THE PEOPLE".
Janet Echelman is an experimental sculpture artists who creates large scale fiber installations that change with light and wind. Her work encourages you to stop, sit (or lay down!), and really pay attention to your environment. I was lucky enough to experience one of her pieces at the Renwick Gallery in 2016 and I just have to say that "experience" is honestly the only word one could use when talking about seeing Janet's work in person. It really does take your breath away.
On International Women's Day, it seems only fitting to highlight an artist who loves to celebrate women. Alexa Coe's nudes are graceful and effortless, drawing attention to the curves and dips of the female form. Her "Big Blue" series, in particular, brings to mind the sketches of Matisse which is always going to be a plus in my book.
I discovered the work of Ashley Mary through Instagram and was immediately impressed with her mastery of color, texture, and pattern. She makes every piece with a palette knife, scissors, and layers and layers of paint. Consequently, her paintings serve as massive collages where polka dots find a home, stripes form twisting snakes, and color throws a major party. It's art for happy people.
There's no way I could make a list of my favorite female artists without including a few of my very own friends on it. Jill Kuhlman is an embroidery artist from Pittsburgh with a passion for memory, home, movement, and story. She combines paint and thread to create three dimensional contemporary embroidery reminiscent of historical art styles. I own two pieces by Jill, but am currently saving up for an embroidered portrait of Vincent Van Gogh that is every bit as magical as Jill herself.
Virginia Echeverria Whipple
Hands-down one of the most inspiring artists on the internet to me and yet, funnily enough, one of the most mysterious. No bio, no interviews, and she doesn't sell any of her work. But what I can say is that Virginia Echeverria Whipple is a contemporary artist who creates analog collages that draw connections between the past and the present and celebrate the whimsy of a vibrant life.
Although she's not a new face in the contemporary art world, the name Amy Sherald is now familiar to most Americans with the unveiling of her commissioned portrait of Former First Lady Michelle Obama. But before she was capturing the likeness of American royalty, Amy was known for her larger-than-life, pastel-hued portraits of beautiful and pared-back African American men and women. The women she brings to life on her canvases are strong and elegant, and shatter stereotypes of how women of color have often been portrayed.
I've got to admit that the movie I most wanted to win an Oscar last Sunday night was Agnes Varda's "Faces Places", a documentary about how art impacts rural French communities that, if it won the award in the Documentary category, would have made Agnes Varda the oldest ever recipient of an Academy Award. In truth, she's been creating incredible films since the 1960's when she and her husband served as ground breakers in the French Nouveau genre. But what many film lovers may not know is that Agnes is also an incredibly accomplished photographer. Her black and white photographs capture the essence of the past century, showing people and scenes that are tender, raw, and story-laden, drawing attention the value of community and memory.
Kate and Laura Mulleavy
Of all the female fashion designers out there, my cap has got to go off to the Mulleavy sisters, design due behind Rodarte. After studying art history and literature at Berkley University (yay for the liberal arts!), they founded a fashion house and began creating some of the most ethereal and expressive collections of the twenty-first century. Their work is included in the permanent collections of several of the country's most important art museums and they will be the focus of a retrospective at the National Museum of Women in the Arts this fall. They designed the costumes for 2010's "Black Swan", starring Natalie Portman, and just celebrated their own directorial debut this pas fall with "Woodshock", a psychological thriller starring their close friend Kirsten Dunst. These women are just pumping out creative energy and beauty with every new season.
Although not an artist in the "traditional sense", Emily Maynard, founder of Elva Fields, has been creating pieces of heirloom jewelry for years now with an attention to detail and texture that I believe are truly artistic. Emily creates every piece by hand with vintage jewels, often taking clients' passed-down brooches and creating stunning necklaces that showcase them in a vibrant and contemporary way. Tim bought me one of Emily's necklaces as a Christmas gift this past holiday season and it's the perfect jolt of color for sunny and rainy days alike. Jewelry is such a personal and intimate belonging, and knowing your jewels were hand-crafted with care by an expert artist and storyteller lends a sense of importance to the daily act of dressing oneself that I feel few women really get to experience.
Last but certainly not least, Rebecca Rebouche is a New Orleans-based artist whose works strike a balance between earthy and whimsical. Creating everything from a tree house studio in the muggy bayou, Rebecca produces paintings that feel like allegories, murals that read like dreams, and family trees reminiscent of children's storybooks. The title of one of her collections sums it up well: "Modern Mythology" is perhaps the best way to describe the connection Rebecca's work has with the past, the present, and perhaps even the future.
Who are some of your favorite female artists that are actively creating work today?