Women’s History Month is a great time to explore the lives of women who’ve impacted our world. I’m taking a departure from writing about writers and authors to focus on women who used their artistry to tell stories. This group of 4 women are either deceased now or retired but they are anything but forgotten.
Last year, the art world lost a champion and contributor, Annie Lee. Annie Lee used a keen sense of humor and love for storytelling to paint by theme (church, family, romance, recreation, kids and more). She began as a clerk and pursued her love for art as a side hobby until it was clear that she should paint full-time. During the process, Annie Lee became an impressive businesswoman who took full reign of her artistry to create Annie Lee Gifts, which placed her products ranging from paintings, prints, gift cards and more into the hands of retailers internationally. Her work has been featured on television and in movies, and is in collections worldwide.
Frida Kahlo was a childhood survivor of polio and other health issues that enabled her to spend time alone to create. Originally, she intended to become a physician but instead chose art after a debilitating traffic accident. The art of Frida Kahlo celebrated the colors and vibrancy of Mexican culture. She also was an unapologetic feminist who depicted women and women’s life with freedom. In her mind, she was the subject she knew best thus most of her work are self-portraits. She led a colorful life as well with husband Diego Rivera and because of their political leanings; she met luminaries from around the world.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s artistic director emerita Judith Jamison was the former muse of noted choreographer Alvin Ailey. She stands tall at 5’10” and she used every inch of it creatively, forging an international career as a dancer. Alvin Ailey created and choreographed “Cry” for Miss Jamison and it is still performed in the company though she no longer dances. Jamison also continued to choreograph, and created dances such as Forgotten Time, Hymn, Love Stories, and Among Us for the company.
Mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry has been singing opera since 1958. She is considered one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of her generation. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Miss Bumbry attended Boston University and Northwestern University, where she was discovered and mentored. She made her operatic debut in 1960 with the Paris Opera. Her career has been a number of firsts for an African American. One of her earliest highlights was being invited to the White House to perform by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and later for President Reagan. Like Miss Jamison, Miss Bumbry was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor for her contribution to American culture and the arts.
There are so many wonderful women who’ve told stories artistically and who’ve made our lives richer. Who are some of your favorites? Please leave their names in the comment section. Thank you!