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Successful Women Who Used Art As Empowerment

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

Throughout the centuries, successful women artists have been very active in contributing to the art scene. Whether as artists, models, historians, and critics, they engaged in the movements of art as empowerment. And have fought to see its transformative roles in society. Indeed, their work has significantly contributed to the advancement of our artistic society.


Yet, the art world is no exception when it comes to gender biases. Even with the presence of successful women artists, the men were still the ones most exposed to the limelight. Theirs works get noticed at a much higher rate compared to that of their successful women contemporaries. Women had difficulty being treated as equals in all aspects - from training in art schools, to selling their work, to gaining an audience. Successful women who used their art as empowerment have inspired us in various ways. There were activists like Rosa Parks, and singers like Nina Simone who contributed in the fight for equality.

From inspiring thousands of women to be entrepreneurs, to revolutionizing the traditional educational system, let us take a look back at some of the most notably successful women heroes who used both traditional and contemporary art as empowerment, changing our society in their own ways.

BEATRIX POTTER (1866-1943)

Helen Beatrix Potter is the author of the classic children's storybook: The Tales of Peter Rabbit. She was a writer, illustrator, scientist, and conservationist who lived through a very challenging time for women. In her lifetime, she wrote and illustrated 28 books that translated into more than 35 languages and sold over 100 million copies.


As a way to earn money in the 1890s, Beatrix and her brother began to print cards for Christmas and special occasions. They sold these and it allowed them to earn on the side. In 1901, her storybook ideas got rejected by six publishers. Due to this, Beatrix defiantly used her art as empowerment, and published her own edition of the rabbit story. A publisher saw it and decided to publish her. Within a year, they had to produce six editions to meet customer demand!

Did you know that Beatrix Potter was the first person who had her characters merchandised? She created toys, models, and gifts - all inspired by her tales. Today, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is now a well-known model used by Disney.

After she has successfully published her books, Beatrix focused on farming and agriculture. She had acquired lands and farms, and in 1943, Beatrix was laid to rest - leaving fifteen farms and over four thousand acres of land to the National Trust. To this day, more than two million Beatrix Potter books are sold all over the world every year. Her legacy - her art, storytelling, and love for nature have stayed with the world.


One of the most famous contemporary artists of today, a woman who was also ahead of her time, is Marina Abramovic. Hailing from Serbia, she is a performance artist, writer, art film director and producer. Dubbed as the "grandmother of performance art", she began her career in the early 1970s and has been active as an artist for over four decades.


Marina Abramovic's works broke free from the old style of painting on canvas, and object-based materials. Her works carry courage and audacity, executed in a time performance art was not yet widely accepted. Her use of her body as a vehicle allowed the world to explore the possibilities of the human mind.

Up to this day, Marina remains as one of the few successful women performance artists to continue performing late in their career. She has inspired thousands of young women - artists and non-artists alike to explore their femininity, humanity, and the possibilities of their mind.

Today, successful women artists are surging again, and they are using their art as empowerment - now, more than ever. They have gained a louder voice, and are continually fighting to protect their seat at the table

Discovering Courage and Empowerment Through Art | Marika Callangan

In her journey to find her life’s purpose, Marika Callangan found art, and art helped her find her voice and her calling. In this inspiring talk, she shares how creating art gave her the courage to pursue an advocacy that aims to encourage, engage and empower other women, as well as those who have yet to find their own voice. Marika Callangan is the founder of Woman, Create, a local arts platform that aims to engage and empower women through art, creativity and open discourse on relevant women-related issues such as body positivity, domestic violence, breast cancer, and reproductive health. She is also the creator of 365 Wonders, a creative planner that encourages creative productivity and self-empowerment in everyday life. Recently, she spearheaded a creative collage art school called School of Collage and has channeled creativity by holding Art Immersions as a means to connect and raise awareness for children in need.

Coachability Foundation works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life ( though creativity), focusing on four strategic priorities:

  • Women lead, participate in, and benefit equally from governance systems.

  • Women have income security, decent work, and economic autonomy.

  • All women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence.

  • Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action.

Our work is to contribute gender equality in all the areas of life. Furthermore, It is fundamental to aim the Sustainable Development Goals, for more inclusive world.

Source UNWomen

Ardak Kassenova by Zen Art Supplies.

Pic by Marina Abramovic and Natalie Naccache and Art Works for Change, 2013, photographs by Natalie Naccache © 2013, courtesy of Natalie Naccache and Art Works for Change

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