By Jenny Horn
American Artist Appreciation Month is celebrated across the U.S. throughout August. From Andy Warhol to Georgia O’Keeffe, America has been home to many extraordinary artists throughout history. American Artist Appreciation Month was started with the simple aim to celebrate artists and the incredible work that they do, as art is not just something beautiful to look at – it also reflects the human condition, emotions, and ambitions. Art portrays what we are trying to convey when words fail, but often female artists have to work twice as hard to showcase their work and pave their own way in a still largely male-dominant field. Celebrate American Artist Appreciation month today by discovering new female American artists in this week’s female artist highlight, and stay tuned for a new feature each week through August, showcasing just a small portion of America’s phenomenal female artists today and throughout history.
Kathleen Kills Thunder
Kathleen Kills Thunder was born in 1947 in Seattle, Washington. Her father, Ben Kills thunder was a Sioux Indian from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Northeast Montana, and Kathy grew up shuttling back and forth between Seattle and the Colville Indian Reservation in Northeast Washington. Kathy has been painting and beading since she was just six years old, using a bright color-palette and prodigious imagination in creating her painted and beaded work. Kathy currently lives in Arizona and raises buffalo on her farm when she is not pursuing her artistic endeavors.
You can see a selection of Kathleen Kills Thunder’s work online here.
During her often tumultuous, challenging and sometimes controversial career Chicago pioneered feminist art and art education through a unique program for women at California State University, Fresno, a pedagogical approach that she has continued to develop over the years. In 1974, Chicago turned her attention to the subject of women’s history to create her most well-known work, The Dinner Party, which was executed between 1974 and 1979 with the participation of hundreds of volunteers. This monumental multimedia project, a symbolic history of women in Western Civilization, has been seen by more than one million viewers during its sixteen exhibitions held at venues spanning six countries.
For over five decades, Chicago has remained steadfast in her commitment to the power of art as a vehicle for intellectual transformation and social change and to women’s right to engage in the highest level of art production. As a result, she has become a symbol for people everywhere, known and respected as an artist, writer, teacher, feminist and humanist whose work and life are models for an enlarged definition of art, an expanded role for the artist, and women’s right to freedom of expression. You can learn more about this installation on the Brooklyn museum’s website.
Amy Sherald has revitalized the genre of portraiture with elegance, composure and formal balance. In her pictures, the subjects are African American. Working from staged photographs, her pieces present a simplified realism which transmits a message as well as the power of her studied compositions. They confront the psychological effects of the stereotypical imagery of African American subjects, and the societal standing of the people she depicts re-setting the traditional canons of identity, revisiting what an official portrait is, and writing Black history.
You can learn more about Amy Sherald and her iconic painting of Michelle Obama on the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery website.