A new series of online comics produced by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) celebrates the lives of 10 pioneering women artists whose works are included in the institution’s collection.
Berenice Abbott, Carmen Herrera, and Mickalene Thomas are among the figures to get their own stories in the series, which is titled “Drawn to Art.” Most of the comics introduce readers to both the artist’s biography, and their artworks in about a dozen colorful panels.
In a strip called “Beneath the Holly Tree,” an arthritis-ridden Alma Thomas looks out from her window in the 1960s while the frames below look back at her life, from growing up in Georgia, to becoming the first woman to graduate from the art department at Howard University.
“Threads of History,” meanwhile, takes readers along with Anni Albers as she attends the Bauhaus, flees war in Germany, and settles in North Carolina with her husband.
Weaver Kay Sekimachi, sculptor Edmonia Lewis, and painters Romaine Brooks, Corita Kent, and Maria Oakey Dewing also get their own dedicated comics.
Each comic was illustrated by a different woman artist from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.
The illustrators were chosen through a competition sponsored by Ringling’s INDEX program, an educational initiative that connects students with industry employers. Applicants were each asked to create a short comic of roughly 12 to 16 frames about a woman artist under-appreciated during her lifetime.
In addition to having their work featured by the SAAM, the 10 winners also took home $1,000 awards.
“Working to tell the stories of these important women artists has drawn upon our students’ talent, creativity, and ability to work collaboratively with faculty advisors and Smithsonian American Art Museum staff, providing valuable professional experience prior to graduation,” Ringling president Dr. Larry R. Thompson said in a statement. “We are very impressed with, and proud of, their work.”
See more cover “Drawn to Art” covers below, and read all the stories on the Smithsonian’s website.