7 Women Artists You Need to Know Right Now

Although I constantly crave the pleasures of summer warmth living in a city as bitingly cold as Chicago, fall is my favorite season. The trees are lovely and bright and the air is just crisp enough to rock my favorite boots and coats. Most importantly, fall is the start of the culture season and as someone who can quickly list my favorite ballet dancer (Fabrice Calmels) or rattle off a list of anticipated book releases, I’m always thinking about what new cultural nuggets I can consume next.

And one of the best parts of the culture season is the proliferation of gallery openings. Here are some of the most relevant, interesting, and necessary female artists currently rocking the game (and blowing my mind).

1. Tauba Auerbach

Not every artist can make mathematics and physics imaginative, colorful and fun, and yet Tauba has found a way to translate left brain ideas to her creative right side. A former sign painter, Tauba works across mediums — from paintings (yes, that’s a painting above), to musical performance and photography — to explore “hard” subjects with the sort of intelligence and grace few artists can match.

2. Leanne Shapton

More than many other artists, Leanne has crafted a body of work that reacts to and highlights the limitations of how we communicate today. With her latest graphic novel, Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry (what a title!), Shapton has created a singular work of art that is deeply relatable in its humor, sadness and assorted ephemera.

3. Lorna Simpson

Lorna has been in the art scene since the ’80s, and yet no young artist can top (or has attempted to top) the relevancy and importance of her work. Known for cropping photos of women and combining those images with thought-provoking words, she was the first black woman to participate in the Venice Biennale and was given a retrospective of her work at New York’s Whitney Museum in 2007. I especially think about Lorna’s works — which address issues involving misogyny, sexual violence, racial stereotype and femininity — when I learn about another depressing story in the news.

4. Amalia Pica

If there’s anything that has become a challenge in 2014, it is the ways in which we communicate with each other. Amalia’s sculptures—made from lightbulbs, beer bottles, cardboard and other everyday materials—are intended to address those challenges, frustrations and conflicts we all face in delivering our messages. 

5. Mickalene Thomas

What I love most about Mickalene Thomas’ work is her love of the female body, especially the black female body. Mickalene’s hyper-colorful works and site-specific installations challenge the always-harmful and still present stereotypes about black women and instead presents her subjects (from friends to family) as the full human beings they truly are.

6. Lilli Carre

I was never very familiar with comic artists growing up, but discovering Lilli Carre’s work was like finally reading that book everyone recommends and talks about in their day-to-day lives. Carre works across disciplines — from illustration and animated films to painting and sculpture — to explore humor, the power of narrative and the human form. Her work is delicate and strange and certainly worth your time.

7. Amanda Ross-Ho

What is that feeling of being everywhere all at once? It’s something that I think is unique to the contemporary world and something we’ve yet to truly grasp, even with the power of the Internet. Amanda aims to explore what that means through her sculptures, which often connect disparate objects, locations and experiences.

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