Celebrate International Women’s Day with These 16 Artists
by Lex van den Berghe
posted on 03-08-2019
This International Women’s Day, discover the work of 16 global artists who embody the spirit of the holiday by uplifting and empowering women. Representing diverse backgrounds from all over the world, these women share one thing in common: their dedication to supporting women and sharing their stories through art. We are thrilled to share their work. And this day is about them, so without further ado, let’s meet the artists.
Although she prefers to show her support rather than talk about it, she gave us a glimpse into how she empowers women: “I work to celebrate the strength of other women and to create a product that pushes women to live as their authentic selves. I try to create images that I wish my shy, five-year-old self living in Haiti and my lost, thirteen-year-old self discovering Newark could have seen growing up.”
She told us, “I am a queer-femme photographer and I dedicate my entire business to exclusively serving the LGBTQ community. Through my lens, I celebrate and honor the legacy, history, and power that queer women possess, and tell their stories authentically. I love being a woman, I love being queer, and I love being able to use my creative gifts to affirm and celebrate queerness, community, and the intersectionality of feminism.”
Mother of three, Vanessa Rivera turns photographs of her family into fantastical creations, often featuring her children in scenes that defy imagination.
On how she uses her art to empower women, Vanessa says, “For a long time, the online digital art world consisted of mostly male artists. When I started creating a little under two years ago, I was one of the first few women creating digital family art on Instagram using Photoshop. Now, the digital art world is blooming for women, and we are so excited to be a part of such a great movement. Each time I create a piece, especially with my daughter as the main subject, it is with her in mind that I aim to inspire all women to believe in themselves and to develop the confidence to achieve their dreams!”
Danielle Villasana’s photojournalism covers human rights, women, identity, and health around the world, with a focus on Latin America.
Through her work, Danielle explores women’s resilience and bravery. She comments, “As a photojournalist focusing on women, gender, and identity, my work is all about celebrating the strength of women around the world. From women displaced by violence to those persecuted because of their identity, their drive to push forward, to remain true to themselves, and to fight for a more just world is a testament to their resilience. Some of the most courageous women I’ve known are those who triumph over obstacles due to discrimination and stigma, such as trans women, women of color, and those who migrate due to conflict, instability, or other challenges.”
Danielle describes the photographs below. In the first shot, “300 members of the Ak’Tenamit community in Guatemala’s Rio Dulce region carried candles” in light of Climate Week. The second image shows, “Women reading prayers in the Ghriba Synagogue complex during the Lag B’Omer holiday on the Tunisian island of Djerba.” The final photograph is of, “Katalina, a trans woman, holding a kitten that she rescued in Lima, Peru.”
One of the most popular photo manipulators of her style on Instagram, Luisa Azevedo creates scenes straight out of her imagination. She also happens to be a woman in a male-dominated field.
Despite the challenges of being a woman, Luisa is dedicated to her craft. She shares, “As a young woman, I know what it feels like to doubt yourself and to be afraid you’re not good enough. I also know that I need to believe in myself and be resilient. The best advice I can give young women is this: whatever you do, do it with your heart.”
Portrait photographer and transgender woman, Dani Noire celebrates women from all walks of life, not just in her work but in every aspect of her life.
On why portraiture is so important for celebrating women, Dani says, “I use it [portraiture] to celebrate the essence of womanhood. Virtually none of my subjects are professional models. There’s no better feeling than watching the smiles of my subjects when they look through the images and see the story that the mirror doesn’t tell. When you can go beyond telling a sister that she’s already perfect the way she is, and actually help her believe it, you have something that is beyond a simple photograph – it becomes an artifact from her life. This is why I do what I do: to remind all women to embrace the beauty in imperfection, because our uniqueness is valid and deserves celebration! ”
Krisanne Johnson’s career as a documentary photographer has been filled with long-term personal projects about young women and HIV/AIDS in Swaziland and South Africa’s post-apartheid youth culture.
On giving women a voice through her work, Krisanne shares, “As a photographer, my passion has been to highlight stories surrounding youth culture, especially issues related to young women. I hope to celebrate women by documenting their multifaceted, shifting lives through everyday experiences. I believe there is power in showing daily life and our connections to place, as well as in providing space for women to own their emotion and self-expression.”
A self-described “feminist-in-progress,” Bronte Huskinson focuses on books and literature in her photo manipulations. She also runs the Girls Who Can Book Club alongside Sarah Newton where they promote diverse authors and woman-led narratives (and you can bet the books they read pass the Bechdel test).
Bronte gave us a peek into how she lives her values. “I think one of the best ways that you can celebrate and empower women is to listen. Like, really, really listen. There are so many different women from so many different corners of the world, all with unique voices. The beauty of the internet is that you get the chance to listen to these voices and opinions that are different from your own.”
Born in Equatorial Guinea and now based in Barcelona, Sol Bela is a portrait photographer with a unique perspective. Growing up, she found that media’s representation of women often failed to include those that looked like her, so she decided to change that using her art.
On her year-round support of women, she shares, “To say that women’s day should be celebrated every day is very cliché, but I think it is very true. I grew up in an environment where nobody looked like me, so as I got older, I found consolation in intersectional feminism, where all women support each other regardless of physical appearance or beliefs. Feminism and activism are two very important things for me. In my art, I focus on decolonizing the female body by photographing women in ways that help us heal from trauma and learn how to love our bodies the way they are.”
Using elements of magic and mystery, photo manipulator Shaylin Wallace presents a unique style with her surreal creations.
Thriving in a space that historically has been predominantly male, Shaylin shares, “I empower the women I know by encouraging them to embrace who they are, flaws and all. I try my best to motivate the women in my life to follow their dreams and to become who they strive to be.”
Amber McCulloch & Anna O’Brien
Plus size model and fashion blogger Amber McCulloch and lifestyle and fashion creator Anna O’Brien are influencers (and part-time photography enthusiasts) dedicated to fighting for a more body-positive world. Capturing images of one another, they work together as well as separately to create and expand a space where plus size bodies are celebrated.
On what she hopes the future will look like for plus size women, Amber shares, “A revolution doesn’t necessarily start with war – it can start quietly with a few women looking in the mirror and deciding that they like what they see, bumps and curves and flaws and all. Plus size bodies are vastly underrepresented in media. Because of this, too many women avoid cameras or hide in pictures because they are not happy with the way they look. I believe that bodies of all sizes should be portrayed as beautiful, flirty, strong, sexy, powerful, confident, comfortable, and on and on. If my images can inspire just one woman to confidently pose for a picture or stand in front of the mirror and smile at her reflection, then that’s another win for the body revolution.”
Advocating for women drives Anna’s work. She tells us, “I try to empower women to see their bodies as a tool for greatness rather than a barrier to their success. As a plus woman, I am constantly reminded of what I can’t do solely because of my body. It may sound silly, but imagery is important. What we see can change the way we view the world and each other. For me, capturing images of people is a way for me to help those I love see the beauty that radiates from them.”
Pictured below is a photograph of Amber taken by Anna, a photograph of Anna taken by Amber, and a photograph of the two of them taken by Joey Pasion.
Katrina Yu is a Photoshop artist and visual storyteller whose work illustrates narratives of strong women (sometimes herself).
On the importance of her art, Katrina says, “Nothing is more powerful than art as the key to growth and empowerment. Art disrupts our routine, widens our perspectives, challenges our truths, and enlarges our capacity for beauty. Through our daily, artificial routines, we often close ourselves off to the world, but by doing art, our world opens up again. That’s why I’ve been creating daily and why I plan to create every single day to come.”
Heba Khamis is an Egyptian photojournalist focusing on social issues that she doesn’t see addressed elsewhere.
Through her documentary photography, Heba explores women’s issues. She believes, “Women are already strong, but we need to change the way the world perceives that strength, including some women who still doubt themselves. I have experienced women’s strength and power since the day I came into the world. Documenting their survival gave me the chance to see and explore countless different instances of women’s strength (and believe me, it’s a long list).”
With an untamed imagination, a camera, and Photoshop, Jenny Kaiser brings her daydreams to life in a whimsical, celebratory fashion through her photo manipulations.
Jenny values the support that women give to one another, saying, “The quote ‘Empowered women empower women’ is a beautiful phrase which expresses an important truth: that we have the strength to help and assist each other. Although it might only be a hug or a simple compliment, sometimes that is exactly what we need in a tough situation.”
Sheila Pree Bright
Sheila Pree Bright is a photographer, artist, and contributor to Everyday Black America. Her current work includes an upcoming VR project and a children’s version of her recently published book, #1960Now.
With a strong artistic focus on human rights, especially through the lens of the Black Lives Matter movement, Sheila tells unheard stories. For her, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to share stories like these. She explains, “As a Fine Art Photographer and as a woman, I’m interested in the lives of individuals and communities of the voices that are unheard. As we have experienced the #MeToo movement in recent years, I’ve turned my lens to empower women as they voice their reaction to ideas and issues that are shaping their world.”
As described by Sheila, pictured below are “©2019 Mothers March On mural. Featured in the New York Times, ©2007 Shanae Rowland, Young Americans series, and ©2015 Bree Newsome, 1960Now Series. Activist, artist, and poet who took down the Confederate flag at South Carolina, State Capitol.”
How are you celebrating International Women’s Day?
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