Drawn to Art: Tales of Inspiring Women Artists

What draws artists Laura Aguilar, Tanya Aguiñiga, Emma Amos, Chitra Ganesh, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Wendy Red Star, Miriam Schapiro, Lilly Martin Spencer, and Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, to create? Find out in a new set of Drawn to Art comics that are sure to inspire middle-grade readers and art lovers of any age.  

For three years, Drawn to Art has illuminated the stories of women artists, some of whom may not have received the attention they deserved in their lifetimes. Each has artwork represented in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Inspired by graphic novels, these short takes on artists’ lives were drawn by student-illustrators from the Ringling College of Art and Design. In creating this project, we wanted to give young people the opportunity to identify with the struggles and triumphs of visionaries and rule breakers, to see themselves reflected, and to draw strength from that visibility.  

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. 


A person holds a photo that hows a woman holding a camera to her right eye.

Illustrated by Tyler Tjaden

Body of Work: A Comic About Laura Aguilar

As someone who challenged accept standards of beauty and represented the queer community, Laura Aguilar is one of the most influential Chicana photographers of her generation.

A woman in a specially designed suit made of non-traditional materials stands at the souther border, in front of a rusty metal fence.

Illustrated by Irene Pae

Border Stories: A Comic About Tanya Aguiñiga

Tanya Aguiñiga is known for her community-based projects and activism that involve interactions at the border.

Illustrated by Catherine Vo

Born to Weave: A Comic About Consuelo Jimenez Underwood

Fiber artist and weaver Consuelo Jimenez Underwood is the daughter of migrant agricultural workers. In her richly textured creations, she weaves common threads of history and cultural resistance and affirmation.

A woman in a long blue dress sits at an easel and paints a scene of a woman in a long gown.

Illustrated by Sami Sulzer

A Woman’s Place is in the Studio: Lilly Martin Spencer

Her genre paintings of domestic scenes were filled with humor. Lilly was the breadwinner for the family, making and selling paintings, while her husband stayed home with the children.


Drawn to Art 2023 received federal support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. 

Smithsonian American Women's History Museum logo in color.


Jaune Quick-To-See Smith Comic - Cover

Illustrated by Maddy Williams-Solberg

Becoming an Artist: A Comic About Jaune Quick-To-See Smith

Jaune Quick-To-See Smith was born on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana in 1940. As a child, she escaped her harsh world through books and the drawings her father made for her. Now, she uses her art to powerfully express her beliefs.

Illustrated by Micah Eubanks

Playhouse: A Comic About Nellie Mae Rowe

Nellie Mae Rowe was one of the first self-taught Black women to be widely celebrated for her art. After a childhood lost to hard labor and twice widowed, she dedicated herself to creating art. Her imaginative works are filled with joy, playfulness, and pride. 


Illustrated by Emily Fromhage

Threads of History: A Comic About Anni Albers

Anni Albers studied art at the innovative Bauhaus, where she discovered weaving. She fled Nazi Germany and became an influential teacher at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina.


Generous support for the 2021 Drawn to Art series was provided by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. 

The logo of the Smithsonian's Women's History Initiative