If we would be asked to name top 10 artists from any art movement of the 20th century, how many women would be on the list? Maybe only one. This suggests that we have had a systematic problem within the art scene, as one important part of global society. Of course, the situation has been approving, and today we have amazing female artists, from photography to conceptual art. However, there are still more to be done in order to achieve complete gender equality. The contemporary sculpture scene is not an exception.
All the obstacles women have in art in general, can be found in sculpture as well. Female sculptors are, maybe, even more stigmatized, since it is believed that sculpture practice includes hard and difficult process of material-making, with a lot of physical effort, something that is usually meant to be a men’s job. Yet we have amazing female sculptors in the contemporary art scene, and this year’s March 8th is a perfect opportunity to name 10 out of hundreds of extraordinary female sculptors who influence contemporary sculpture.
In the next pages, we will present ten amazing contemporary female sculptors whose work is truly extraordinary.
Shinique Smith - Memories
Shinique Smith is an extraordinary artist who works with wide range of media, from paintings, video and performances to full-room installations and sculptures. She has roots in graffiti art, and she is also known for her large-scale paintings and murals.
Her compositions are multilayered, a bit chaotic and colorful.
Smith seeks to tell human stories, usually through abstract creations. The motifs of her works are usually memories of different periods of life. She is often influenced by the aesthetics of street art, while her complex works mix different media through which she represents forgotten clothes, Japanese calligraphy, human figures. Smith is truly a Renaissance woman, since she is dedicated to all types of artistic media, not focusing only on sculpture.
Natalie Jeremijenko - Environment
Another Renaissance woman whose work we present in the light of March 8th, the International Women’s Day, is Natalie Jeremijenko. Jeremijenko is artist, engineer, environmentalist and activist. She bridges the gap between art and science, by creating large-scale live laboratories. Her sculptures are created by a wide range of all kind of materials, while the main subject of her work is environment and the place of humans in nature. Her interventions in exhibition spaces have characteristics of performance (although the main medium is sculpture), since Jeremijenko’s aim is to create participative art, where public would be able to experience real-life environment processes.
Joanna Malinowska - Marginalized Cultures
Joanna Malinowska is Polish-born artist, currently living in the United States. Her work is not focused only on sculpture, but on performance and video as well. Malinowska is interested in anthropology, ethnology and art history, and she explores marginalized cultures in order to represent their relicts within the Western context. Her interest is in cultures that are not her own, and she uses motifs such as totems, rituals and myths in order to confront these relicts with modernist Western art. Malinowska mainly uses traditional materials while creating sculptures.
Rachel Beach - Totem-like Sculptures
Rachel Beach is New York-based artist known for her totem-like, abstract sculptures. Her sculptures are usually made from wood that is often painted with light colors. Beach’s works are often angular, relying on stacked chevron and X shapes with geometric cutouts. Beach plays with volume and form, concrete and negative space, while her final products are usually free-standing, painted wooden sculpture.
Michelle Matson - Awkward Pink Figures
Michelle Matson is known for her bizarre paper-based sculptures usually representing female figures in awkward situations.
The majority of her sculptures are cutting and aggressive, but opposed to cheerful colors, with pink often dominating.
However, she creates different types of sculptures as well. For example, one of her most recognized works are doll-sized replicas of her female heroes, all donning disco ball-esque garb. Matson’s grotesque figures are created out of thousands of cut pieces of paper and lots of glue. With a dose of humor, here figures are represented in unusual situations – hoarding animals, shooting chains out of their behinds, with faces sometimes melted off.
Monica Cook - Inspired by Animals
Monica Cook is an artist who cannot easily be linked with one single artistic medium. Yet, she is best known for her hyperrealist painting and sculptures. Cook’s materials — plaster, teeth, wire mesh, glass beads, resin, plastic grapes, glass eyes, telephone wires, fur, squeaky toys for dogs — reflect the contrast between the natural world and the human world found in her work. She is inspired by animals, precisely animal documentaries, and she tries to understand animal’s behavior. Cook often goes to the zoo to observe animals’ behavior, as part of the process of research for her work. Her sculptures appear to be unusually real, having in mind the surrealistic and hyperrealist style she uses.
Molly Crabapple - Self-Portraits
Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer living in New York. Crabapple is also a contributing editor for VICE and has written for The New York Times, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, CNN and Newsweek. She is political and social activist, and she regularly speaks to audiences around the world, at institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, The London School of Economics, and Harvard and Columbia Universities. Although she uses a wide range of artistic media, her sculptures attracted a lot of attention. She is famous for her self-portrait work with quotes written about her on the internet. This sculpture is cut wood, and this work was widely covered by media, since the work is based on clear political statements.
Daria Irincheeva - Conceptual Art
Daria Irincheeva was born in Russia, but she lives and works in New York. She works in a broad variety of techniques and media. Irincheeva was born during turbulent period following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and she takes her memories of these insecure social and political times and translates them into much broader philosophical and personal ideas and concepts. Many would label her sculptures as abstract, yet they have very clear concept and basic idea. She works with a wide range of materials. Since she has clear statements and concepts, and since she mixes different media within one single work, many label her art as conceptual.
Brenna Murphy - Digital World
Brenna Murphy produces sculptures, virtual environments, installations, music, and collage in a continuous, overlapping, polymathic stream.
Murphy combines digital image-making with motifs of mysticism.
She often works with 3D graphics and video game development software to construct psychedelic, labyrinth-like worlds that evoke the cryptic visual forms of ancient civilizations. These worlds are then photographed and printed, or rendered into three-dimensional objects via computer-aided fabrication. Her sculptures are shown in spaces that represent something between virtual platforms and physical space. Murphy is also interested in possibilities of human brain to perceive digital technology and virtual world.
Diana Cooper - hybrid visual constructions
Diana Cooper is an artist that combines painting, drawing, and sculpture in the process of creation of hybrid visual constructions. She uses a wide range of materials, and she transforms them into complex three-dimensional works. With an intensity of repetition and multiplication, Cooper takes geometric abstraction to extremes. The resulting work references digital, biological, mechanical, and topographical systems or networks. Cooper rarely uses only one medium for a work. She usually combines different materials for making three-dimensional works that are combined with different objects, depending on the concept, and connects them into one single piece of art.
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