Comic Series Presents Ten More Stories about Women Artists Represented in SAAM’s Collection 

The Drawn to Art comic series continues to share the lives of women artists you should know 

Emma Hitchcock
March 30, 2023
Media - 1996.88 - SAAM-1996.88_2 - 136204
Miriam Schapiro, Wonderland, 1983, acrylic, fabric and plastic beads on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of an anonymous donor, 1996.88
Miriam Schapiro, Wonderland, 1983, acrylic, fabric and plastic beads on canvas, 90 x 144 1⁄2 in. (228.6 x 367.0 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of an anonymous donor, 1996.88

Three years ago, we launched the first series of Drawn to Art: Tales of Inspiring Women Artists, our visual storytelling project that riffs on the genre of graphic novels. Our stories, however, are solely digital (at least for now) and run about five pages. Still, there’s a lot of life you can pack into five pages when you’re telling a story with both words and pictures. Our launch in 2021 featured Anni Albers, Mickalene Thomas, and Romaine Brooks, among others. We continued in 2022 with artists that included Judy Baca, Sonya Clark, Nellie Mae Rowe, Ester Hernandez, and Tiffany Chung

We’re happy to announce that in September, 2023, we’ll publish the third series of Drawn to Art, illuminating the lives of women artists, some you may already know, and some you’ll perhaps be meeting for the first time: 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. Their stories span the centuries and reflect artists from different backgrounds creating works of art in their own unique styles. 

Laura Aguilar

Nature Self-Portrait

Laura Aguilar, Nature Self-Portrait, 1996, gelatin silver print, sheet: 16 × 20 in. (40.6 × 50.8 cm) image: 13 1/8 in. × 19 in. (33.3 × 48.3 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the American Women's History Initiative Acquisitions Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative, 2021.27.2, © 2016, Laura Aguilar Trust

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. 

Tanya Aguiñiga

Artist Tanya Aguiñiga wearing a suit made of wearable glass elements at the U.S./Mexico border wall

Performace still, Tanya Aguiñiga, Metabolizing the Border, 2018-2020; Photo by Gina Clyne

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

Emma Amos

Acrylic on linen with hand-woven fabric

Emma Amos, Winning, 1982, acrylic on linen with hand-woven fabric, 75 × 64 in. (190.5 × 162.6 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the Catherine Walden Myer Fund, 2019.15, © 1982, Ryan Lee Gallery, New York

Emma Amos was a postmodern African-American painter and printmaker. She worked with political and feminist collectives throughout her career, creating colorful multi-media works that talked about her identity as a Black woman. 

Chitra Ganesh

Suite of 5 digital animations, color, sound; 07:59 minutes

Chitra Ganesh, The Scorpion Gesture, 2018, suite of 5 digital animations, color, sound; 07:59 minutes, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Samuel and Blanche Koffler Acquisition Fund, 2022.50, © 2022, Chitra Ganesh

Chitra Ganesh was born in NY to Indian immigrant parents. She draws from Indian mythology, literature, and popular culture to reveal feminist and queer narratives from the past and to imagine new visions of the future. 

Consuelo Jimenez Underwood

Yellow and black weaving with "Caution" printed on it with figures running

Consuelo Jiménez Underwood, Run, Jane, Run!, 2004, tapestry-woven cotton, linen, and other fabric with barbed wire and caution tape, overall: 120 x 67 5/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Alturas Foundation. © 2004, Consuelo J. 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. 

Barbara Jones-Hogu

Screen print on paper

Barbara Jean Jones-Hogu, Rise and Take Control, 1971, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum, 2021.26.2, © 1971, Estate of Barbara Jones-Hogu

The artist’s groundbreaking prints spoke to the Black Power movement and were an integral part of the political and social conversations of the 1960s and 1970s. 

Sister Gertrude Morgan

Tempera, ballpoint pen and ink, and pencil on paper,

Sister Gertrude Morgan, Jesus is my air Plane, ca. 1970, tempera, ballpoint pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 18 x 26 3/8 in. (45.7 x 67.0 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.187

Sister Gertrude Morgan saw art as way to convey her faith and spread the Word of God. She was equal parts musician, painter, and poet, expressions that both energized and helped share her sanctified journey. She fascinated people for the “non-artist” ways of her artistry, and changed views on what it meant to be an artist, and what constituted a meaningful work of art. 

Miriam Schapiro

 Dollhouse

Miriam Schapiro, Dollhouse, 1972, wood and mixed media, overall: 79 3/4 x 82 x 8 1/2 in.  (202.6 x 208.3 x 21.6 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Gene Davis Memorial Fund, 1997.112A-B

Miriam Schapiro was a groundbreaking feminist artist whose collaborative project, Womanhouse, critiqued the misogyny of everyday life.

Lilly Martin Spencer

oil on canvas

Lilly Martin Spencer, We Both Must Fade (Mrs. Fithian), 1869, oil on canvas, 72 x 53 3/4 in. (182.9 x 136.5 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1970.101

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. 

Wendy Red Star 

Pigment print on paper

Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow), Catalogue Number 1949.67.a,b, 2019, pigment print on paper, image: 18 × 28 in. (45.7 × 71.1 cm) sheet: 19 × 29 in. (48.3 × 73.7 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2021.47.14, © 2019, Wendy Red Star

Wendy Red Star reassesses misconceptions around Native identity from a distinctly feminist, Indigenous perspective.

While we prepare the newest comics for publication this fall, please enjoy the twenty that are already published on SAAM’s website, as well as blog posts that take a deeper look into individual comics and artists.  

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