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Celebrate International Women’s Day With 10 Female Artists Who Span the Globe cover

Celebrate International Women’s Day With 10 Female Artists Who Span the Globe

Art history has a terrible track record when it comes to acknowledging women’s accomplishments in the field. Thankfully, March is Women’s History Month, and today is International Women’s Day—now is the perfect time to brush up on art-world luminaries like Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, and Judy Chicago, whose iconic installation “The Dinner Party” memorializes women’s history and accomplishments.

While there’s no shame in revisiting “The Dinner Party” or catching up on Netflix’s Marina Abramović documentary, March reminds us to salute the accomplishments of female artists all over the world—famous or not. To celebrate International Women’s Day (and Women’s History Month), we’re highlighting 10 contemporary female artists whose work exists at the intersection of gender, identity, and geography. Living and working from Malaysia to Mexico City, these artists use their work to evade patriarchal power structures, fight fetishization and body dysmorphia, and spread joy, sincerity, and magic.

Kristin Jenson Romberg

Installation view of Kristin Romberg’s work

In the winter, an enormous, drafty building sits unoccupied in an old Norwegian shipyard. Used for constructing ships until 1988, the building will remain empty until Kristin Romberg installs her free-hanging paintings inside this summer.

Suspended like quilts on a clothesline, Kristin’s colorful work will float above the ground, illuminated by warm light flooding through the hall’s large, vertical windows. “The room is enormous, but for me, it feels just right,” says Kristin, who allows the building’s lofty architecture to highlight her expressive work. “It is silent, and [there] is room for my thoughts and my energy,” she continues. Like Helen Frankenthaler, Kristin prefers raw canvas, often ditching the stretchers to create borderless work that stays true to the spirit of abstract expressionism.

Learn more about Kristen Jenson Romberg here.

Ozlem Thompson

‘Emerald Spring’ by Ozlem Thompson

“I come from a multicultural city,” says painter Ozlem Thompson, who spent her childhood wandering the cobbled lanes and domed mosques of Istanbul. Straddling Europe and Asia, the populous Turkish hub played a central role in east-west economic and cultural exchange during the 16th century. Ruled by ancient Greeks, converted Christian Romans, and finally, Ottoman Turks, the city remains a global melting pot to this day.

“[Istanbul’s] history has inspired me since my childhood,” says Ozlem, who now lives in London, working from the same flat where Piet Mondrian painted before the start of WWII. Influenced by both her childhood in Istanbul and modern art from the likes of Joan Miro, Mondrian, and Wassily Kandinsky, Ozlem creates joyful botanical paintings layered with rich, jewel-toned colors. “I try to express how I interpret the world,” she tells NOT REAL ART. “Within my inner world, there is the constant energy of joy which the viewer can share.”

Learn more about Ozlem Thompson here.

Marie Aimee Fattouche

‘TOO DIMENSIONAL’ by Marie Aimee Fattouche

In 1641, famed sculptor and architect Gianlorenzo Bernini unveiled the first of two bell towers at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Two months later, cracks appeared in the foundation. When the damage spread to the main church facade, Bernini faced a choice: Keep going or tear the whole thing down and eat the loss? French artist Marie Aimee Fattouche contemplates a similar question with anthropomorphic metal sculptures that walk a fine line between minor dysfunction and total breakdown.

Conceptually, Marie’s sculptures hinge on what she calls “structural mechanics”—whether those mechanics arise from the body, the mind, or the environment. Her bizarre works, crafted with sheets of metal, plaster, and joint mechanisms, look like they might come crawling out of a mad scientist’s lab after midnight. With their pastiche of body parts and biomechatronic appendages, Marie’s Frankenstein-like creations are more cyborg than mammal or outright monster.

Learn more about Marie Aimee Fattouche here.

Liza Ambrossio

‘Untitled’ by Liza Ambrossio

“Am I haunted?” asks Liza Ambrossio in her artist statement for Blood Orange. “Or am I the witch?” Assembled after years of nomadic wandering, the images in Blood Orange chronicle the multidisciplinary artist’s search for personal demons hiding in the rocky landscape of her mind.

A Mexico City native, Liza became obsessed with the power of image and identity after instinct sent her hunting for family secrets in old photo albums. As an expression of Liza’s emotional clash and eventual break with her family, the idea for Blood Orange was seeded at that moment. “It all starts with a mental image: an orange that bleeds,” Liza’s statement begins, revealing the work as “tainted with the aesthetics of the Japanese counterculture and the Aztec rituals of human sacrifice.”

Learn more about Liza Ambrossio here.

Olena Kayinska

‘Desert Sand Witches’ by Olena Kayinska

“I don't know where he gets those images; he must have an angel in his head,” said Picasso of his friend, the artist Marc Chagall. Suffused with flying horses and levitating lovers, Chagall’s dream-like illustrations depart from reality, favoring magic and memory over reliable narration. Famously, the Russian artist never finished reading the fables he loved to paint.

Like Chagall, Olena Kayinska uses the visual language of Eastern European folklore to create her whimsical illustrations. Lyrical and loaded with color, the Ukrainian artist’s work is deceptively simple and delightfully frank in its understanding of the world. On this particular aspect of her work, Olena remarks, “I want to return the observers to the pure, sincere, and spontaneous experience of the outer world, which we all had in our childhood. Children observe the world as it is, directly, without thinking.”

Learn more about Olena Kayinska here.

Ayla Hatta

‘It Was All Jell-O’ by Alya Hatta

It’s hard not to giggle at Alya Hatta’s blobby, inflatable nudes, which bend at illogical angles and pucker at the seams. One such nude—titled “Sleaze Cake”—lives at the center of Alya’s graduation exhibition, Always Greener, a rollicking spectacle made laughable by the back-bending blowup doll posed on a kelly green basketball court. On the court’s walls, Alya’s colorful paintings hang out of bounds, but there are no B-team benchwarmers in sight.

Alya, who was born in Malaysia and is now based in Kuala Lumpur and London, explores her diasporic experience as a Southeast Asian woman who moved around constantly as a child. Alya’s mercurial childhood led to a fascination with play, a central theme of Always Greener. “I was initially thinking about […] inflatable castles and bouncy castles [from] when we’re younger, but over time, how the idea of play morphs into sexual stuff,” Alya tells Plural Art Mag. “It just reminded me of the number of times I’ve been fetishized as an Asian woman.”

Learn more about Alya Hatta here.

Lika Sharashidze

‘Untitled’ by Lika Sharashidze

Born in the mountains of Georgia, 19th-century poet Vazha Pshavela is known for his evocative descriptions of nature. Saturated with the riches of his native tongue, Vazha’s narrative poetry holds a natural attraction for Georgian artist Lika Sharashidze, who spends her free time translating verse after verse of the writer’s semi-forgotten work.

Working as a translator, journalist, and artist, Lika gravitates toward metaphysical verse and imagery, searching for higher meaning in human moments. Her ongoing series, A Fractal Reality, takes a lo-fi approach to illustration, borrowing the crude graphics of pre-digital ‘70s and ‘80s animation to create genuinely moving portraits. “The best way to describe my work is to say it reflects the endlessness of the human subconscious and the eternity of earthly energy,” Lika writes in her artist statement. “All of this makes us one."

Learn more about Lika Sharashidze here.

Shabnam Jannesari

Shabnam Jannesari in her studio

Awash with rich color, Shabnam Jannesari’s large-scale oil paintings illustrate clandestine spaces for women to gather in secret. In dark, richly decorated rooms, the Iranian artist and her female compatriots evade patriarchal power structures that rob them of their freedom.

Now based in Massachusetts and pursuing an MFA, Shabnam draws on her experiences growing up in Iran. Although deeply personal, her work casts a wide net, reflecting on the rampant injustices suffered by other Iranian women under the current law. “Iranian patriarchal society censors female independence,” Shabnam writes in her artist statement, pointing to the hijab as symbolic of that censorship. “Those who ascribe to cultural, religious prescription believe that women’s hair attracts men and that a woman’s body spawns temptation and guilt.”

Learn more about Shabnam Jannesari here.

Ibuki Kuramochi

‘Animus’ by Ibuki Kuramochi

“There is nothing more personal than the body,” renowned anatomist Takeshi Yoro has said. Interdisciplinary artist Ibuki Kuramochi agrees. Born in Japan and now based in L.A., Ibuki is best known for staging live performances that explore bodily transformation and personal expression through experimental Japanese Butoh dance.

Often called the “dance of darkness,” Butoh emerged from the ashes of WWII as a means of reestablishing Japanese cultural identity. Turning away from modernization and Western styles of dance, choreographers Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno founded Butoh on principles of the unknown: subconscious thought, primitive instinct, and ancient, cryptic mythologies. Something of a cousin to German Expressionism, Butoh defines itself by revealing the dancer’s primordial nature through interpretive movement and creative costuming. Modern practitioners like Ibuki infuse the famously enigmatic dance with new mediums, finding fresh ways to express memories and histories held within the body. For Ibuki, that means revisiting her nightly dreams during waking hours.

Learn more about Ibuki Kuramochi here.

Laihha Organna

‘Skate Girl’ by Laihha Organna

“How can I make this as weird as possible?”

It’s a question Maui-based illustrator Laihha Organna always asks before beginning one of her sun-kissed designs. “My artwork is inspired by surfing, women, and all things weird,” she explains in an interview with Her Waves, an online platform that supports the creative intersection of surf and art.

Created primarily with an iPad, Laihha’s digital designs are dunked in warm bronze as if they’ve been basking in the Hawaiian sun all afternoon. No stranger to Hawaii’s natural beauty, Laihha—who goes by loindaflow online—is an avid surfer who channels the rush of wave-riding into her work. “I believe surfing holds many universal lessons the world could benefit from,” she tells Her Waves. “When I realized the lack of representation for all women in surf culture, it became an inspiration for my artwork.” Laihha decided it was time to retire the surfer dude stereotype, replacing him with sporty women on surfboards and plenty of eye-popping skulls.

Learn more about Laihha Organna here.

All photos published with permission of the artist(s).

Want to be featured on NOT REAL ART? Email editor@notrealart.com with a short introduction and a link to your online portfolio or three images of your work.

Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens (she/her/hers) is NOT REAL ART’s editor in chief. Morgan is an arts writer from the Midwest who enjoys saying “excuse me” when no actual pardon is needed. She specializes in grant writing and narrative-based storytelling for mission-driven artists and arts organizations. With a background in printmaking, pop culture, and classic literature, Morgan believes a girl’s best friend is the pile of books on her bedside table.

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