She Tells Stories with Her Art

It is Women’s History month and everyone will be writing about some of the women we’re all aware of, and I thought it would be too obvious to focus on women writers. So I’m taking a different approach. I’ve selected 4 contemporary women artists who tell stories and share narratives with their artistic gifts.

Misty Copeland

Go over to Twitter and type in the hashtag #IWillWhatIWant and most likely you will find tweet chatter centered around one of the most amazing creatives of our time: Misty Copeland. This thirty-something ballet dancer is only the third African American soloist for American Ballet Theater (ABT). Read her bio online but I would like to share that she is not only remarkable to watch but has a backstory that is compelling. First of all, she began ballet dancing at an age considered old for most dancers pursuing a career. Another fact of note is that she is like a rock star with numerous endorsements and deals. Lastly, she is a book author who is a staunch advocate for young black girls who want to dance.

Shanequa Gay

Shanequa Gay, an Atlanta native, has drawn praise and critical acclaim for her depictions of southern life and black women, and is a highly sought-after speaker and lecturer. She has exhibited her work at prestigious venues and events including the Chattanooga African American Museum, the Hunter Museum of American Art (Chattanooga), the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History (Atlanta), Emory University (Atlanta), Mason Murer Gallery (Atlanta), and the National Black Arts Festival (Atlanta). Her work is among the private collections of actor Samuel L. Jackson, musician/songwriter Leon Russell, and event planner to the stars Preston Bailey. Her work can also be seen in the motion picture Addicted (2014). She is honored to have her as part of the permanent collection for SCAD Hong Kong. In 2013, she was chosen by Low Country Luxe and The Congressional Club to create an illustration of the White House, which was featured as packaging for the 2013 First Lady’s Luncheon hostess gift. First Lady Michelle Obama and more than 1,800 attendees received the gift.

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens is an African American musician. She is known as the lead singer, violinist, banjo player and a founding member of the Grammy-winning country, blues and old-time music Carolina Chocolate Drops. She is a native of Greensboro, North Carolina and a 2000 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory where she studied opera. The unique value of this wonderful artist is that she gained fame in an area of music that is not popular, folk music, and then in early 2014 Giddens recorded with the likes of Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford and others under the watchful eye of legendary producer T-Bone Burnett who hand-selected her for the project that completes a number of unfinished music by Bob Dylan. In February 2015, Giddens released her debut solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, on Nonesuch Records. Also produced by Burnett, the album includes songs made famous byPatsy ClineOdettaDolly Parton, and Nina Simone, among others.

Jamie Okuma

Native American beadwork artist is a star on the rise and with incredible gifts. Jamie’s beadwork knows few boundaries. She takes the gift and talent passed on to her by her mother and elders to create traditional artistry in the form of dolls, and clothing reminiscent of 17th and 19th century beadwork of the Blackfeet. She is also a painter, sewer and musician. Her beadwork on expensive Christian Louboutin boots is capturing the attention of museum curators, consumers and the fashion industry.

Do you know of other artists who tell stories with their artistry? Please share their names with me in the comment section or send me a tweet.



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