Shana Wilson, portrait and figurative artist from Edmonton, Canada, has spent a large part of her career creating portraits of inspirational women, including a 40-inch by 30-inch oil painting of Ruth Bader Ginsburg which made a cover of TIME in 2020. Wilson invited Destiny Kirumira to TIMEPieces.
Title: The Trail Blazers. The Change Makers. The Life Savers.
*Note: please make sure your audio is on while viewing the video
2018 marked the start of my artistic tribute to inspirational women. The Trail Blazers. The Change Makers. The Life Savers. I have commemorated 25 on canvas with no plans to stop, creating an empowering exhibition of female leadership. Each is a significant undertaking at up to 5ft in height, filling my studio with hope for a better future. As the years pass, my artistic style evolves and is recorded with the stories of these women.
Leadership stems from LOVE, for humankind and Mother Earth, transforming both for better. Leaders are often larger than life, making impactful difference worldwide. Yet a leader also lives within each of us, through everyday loving acts that in aggregate heal massive rifts of inequality and well-being.
These women have made it unlawful to gender discriminate, challenged acceptance for cancer scars, addressed period poverty, and worked tirelessly for the UN. They have been black listed, commandeered the cockpit, lived as a boy to play sports, and furthered anthropology. They have achieved firsts in politics and architecture, built business empires, encouraged mature women in fashion, and advocated for mental wellness while going multi-platinum. They have fought sexual harassment, nursed soldiers to health, broke ground as an openly lesbian musician, and changed a monarchy. They are icons and the women an next door, and all have acted with empathy, courage, and conviction.
Galleries and museums are ripe overrun with imagery of male leaders. I wish to leave a legacy that inspires next generations with portraits of inclusive leadership. Thank you to Serena Ryder, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Zaha Hadid, Kat Graham, Mary Seacole, Hazel Ying Lee, Carole Pope, Jane Goodall, Golden Drake, Shirley Chisholm, Deb Haaland, Amelia Earhart, Katherine Graham, Marian Moneymaker, Cecily Brown, Diane von Fürstenberg, Amika George, Lady Diana, Maria Toorpakai Wazir, Mei Xu, Anita Hill, and the many more I will paint.
About the Artist
I paint to ensure legacies are discovered, celebrated, and remembered. To right the balance of the way women are portrayed in HERstory. It is not my story I wish to share, but theirs:
Serena Ryder is multi-platinum recording artist who uses her powerful voice for philanthropy and mental wellness, including the song that accompanies my digital version.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, responsible for ground breaking legislation including making it unlawful to gender discriminate.
Gloria Steinem is a leader of the American equality movement, an author, activist, speaker, producer, and co-founder of Ms. Magazine.
Buffy Sainte-Marie was blacklisted, won an Academy Award for songwriting, is a tireless advocate for indigenous rights, and was the first woman to breastfeed on national tv.
Zaha Hadid elevated design to swooping new heights and was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Kat Graham, actress, producer, dancer, singer, and activist, is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR Refugee Agency and a member of GLAAD.
Hazel Ying Lee became the first Chinese-American woman to fly for the US Air Force with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
Carole Pope is one of the first openly lesbian lead singers to achieve mainstream fame.
Mary Seacole independently set up the “British Hotel” behind the lines of the Crimean War to nurse the wounded.
Jane Goodall is the foremost expert on chimpanzees and a global force for conservation and animal welfare.
Golden Drake bested a fierce beast, bares her scars to encourage acceptance, and helps others facing difficult journeys.
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to US congress and to run as a Presidential candidate for a leading political party.
Deb Haaland is the first Native American to serve as a US Cabinet secretary.
Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, among many other records.
Katherine Graham was a publisher, author and newspaper magnate.
Marian Moneymaker, at 65, created acceptance of mature women in fashion.
Cecily Brown is a force in contemporary art, with work in major museums and galleries worldwide.
Diane von Fürstenberg created the iconic brand DVF and its wrap dress, supports nonprofits, and advocates for women in leadership.
Amika George founded @FreePeriods, inspiring a movement for menstrual support to ensure no girl misses school and no woman misses out on life.
Lady Diana changed the British monarchy with her unconventional and personal approach to charity work, including supporting AIDS patients and advocating for land mine removal.
Maria Toorpakai Wazir masqueraded as a boy to participate in competitive sports as a Muslim girl. Upon discovery and threat of death, she hid for three years until escaping to Canada to become a world ranked squash player and advocate for girls in sport.
Mei Xu is the founder and CEO of three global companies, using her resources to support woman-owned businesses.
Anita Hill stood up to sexual harassment long before the support of the #metoo movement, paving the way for women to speak out.
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