Eight inspiring women in the arts, chosen by the women of HdK

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Women's hands in a circle representing togetherness

Vera Molnár

Vera Molnár is a Hungarian media artist, who is a pioneering figure for computer and generative art. Molnár’s works feature geometric shapes formed from a process of sequences that determined their outcome. Victoria (Web Support Coordinator) chose Molnár for her innovation as one of the first women to use computers in her artistic practice, inspiring the onset of an entirely new movement of digital art.

Portrait of Vera Molnár in 1961 by François Molnár

Etta James

Etta James was an American singer whose music and iconic voice had a profound impact on the American music landscape in the 20th century, across genres like jazz, blues and soul. James received many awards in her career including 6 Grammy’s, 17 Blues Music Awards and a Grammy lifetime achievement award. Meg’s (Marketing Manager) favourite song by James is her 1960 everlasting classic, ‘At Last’.

Etta James At Last

Etta James - I'd rather go blind (1967)

Artemisia Gentileschi 

Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter. She was working during the 1600s when very few women could pursue the arts, nevertheless she became the first female member of the prestigious Accademia di Arte del Disegno [Academy of Arts and Drawing]. Kay (Web Project-Coordinator) chose Gentileschi because her paintings demonstrate an alternative perspective in painting, where women are subjects with agency, curiosity and power rather than objects of the male gaze. Kay’s favourite work is Gentileschi’s famed, ‘Judith Slaying Holofernes,’ 1612-13.

Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes, 1612.

‘Judith Slaying Holofernes,’ Artemisia Gentileschi, 1612. Photograph: Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte 2023

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is an American singer, songwriter and pianist. Keys has received a multitude of awards during her career, including 15 Grammy Awards, 17 NAACP Image Awards and 12 ASCAP Awards. Keys has been credited with bridging the gap between R&B, hip-hop and jazz in her music. Blair (Marketing Intern) is inspired by Alicia Keys, not only because of her musical accolades but because she is also a philanthropist dedicated to empowering others.

Alicia Keyes

Alicia Keys at Pavilhão Atlântico (Lisbon, Portugal) on March 19, 2008

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan was a leading American dancer and choreographer, often known as ‘The mother of modern dance.’ Antonia (Project Manager) chose Duncan for her groundbreaking contributions to modern dance, and because “she did what she wanted without caring.” Duncan broke from tradition in her work, she would wear flowing costumes instead of typical fitted ballet attire and dance barefoot to natural rhythms.

Isadora Duncan

Portrait Isadora Duncan, Photograph: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C., USA

Viola Davis

Viola Davis is an American actor and producer. Davis is one of the very few individuals to have reached ‘EGOT status’ having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award. Phoebe (Client Relationship Manager) chose Davis as a key inspiration, sharing “She’s an incredible actor with a really inspiring, grounded approach. She’s confident in herself despite being part of an incredibly challenging industry, while being humble despite her success and open about her struggles. She’s paving the way for younger generations to come.”

Viola Davis

Viola Davis at press tour 2014 - "How to Get Away with Murder"

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Emily Kame Kngwarreye was an Indigenous Australian artist, whose works are inspired by her life as an Anmatyerre elder in Alhalkere country. Kngwarreye broke the record for the most expensive work of art sold by ‘any Australian female artist’ and is often seen to have entered the category of ‘artist genius’, a term that has been historically reserved for white male artists. Allie (Marketing Coordinator) finds Kngwarreye inspiring because despite her success she began her artistic career later in her life. Kngwarreye created roughly 3000 paintings all during the last 8 years of her life, proving you can find artistic inspiration and success at any age.

Emily kame kngwarreye painting earths creation

Emily Kame Kngwarreye painting Earth's Creation I in the Utopia region, Central Australia, 1994 Photo © reserved

Hilma af Klint 

Hilma af Klint was a Swedish artist and spiritualist. While Wassily Kandinsky is widely believed to be the first abstract artist (in Western art history), it was actually Hilma. Sarah (Marketing Consultant) finds inspiration in Klint as while she barely sold a single painting in her lifetime, she is now recognised worldwide for her monumental mystic paintings, inspired by the forces of nature. 

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint in her studio at Hamngatan, Stockholm, 1895. Photograph: Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk

Allie McDermott Brown - Marketing Coordinator