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Influential Women in the Arts

Updated: Mar 8

Liz Montague, Student Writer

26th February 2024


Since 1987, the world has celebrated Women’s History Month throughout March, with International Women’s Day taking place on the 8th. So, as we look forward to that, here's an insight into some of the most influential women in the arts who you might not have heard of before!


Artemisia Gentileschi



Known as one of the first professional female artists in history, aged only 15, Artemisia Gentileschi was also the first woman to be accepted into the Accademia di Arte del Disegno - one of the most prominent academies in 17th century Italy. She was incredibly successful in spite of the societal scorn, patriarchal restrictions and abuse she faced because of her gender, and she has been hailed as one of the most important female figures in the history of Art.


Bonnie Cashin



Bonnie Cashin’s innovative designs for the modern woman of the 50's and 60's continue to influence and inspire the fashion industry today. Despite never desiring her own empire, or ever licensing and trademarking her name, Cashin’s designs were extremely influential in making women’s clothes more practical and comfortable but still beautiful.


Lillian Friedman Astor



Despite being rejected by Disney in the early 1900's, Lillian Friedman Astor went on to animate for rival company Fleischer Brothers Studio and became the first female studio animator. Her talent led her to animate for cartoons such as Popeye, Hunky and Spunky and Betty Boop, paving the way for future female animators to work on similar projects.


 Dame Magdalene Anyango Namakhiya Odundo



Magdalene Odundo realised her passion for ceramics whilst studying at the Cambridge College of Art and Design, and has since made incredible pieces inspired by her time learning from traditional Kenyan and Nigerian potters. She has found international acclaim, exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago, The British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Museum of African Art.


Mabel Addis



Known as 'the very first woman computer game designer', Mabel Addis worked as both a designer and also a school teacher. Addis is most famous for creating ‘The Sumerian Game’, which is noted as the first text-based educational adventure game for children of all ages that has ever been created.


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