Women in Art: Contemporary Global Society


This module takes you around the globe and study women artists of the late-twentieth to twenty-first centuries. We examine art and identity and the international voices of women making art worldwide.

Consider this: What is the difference between migration and diaspora? Migration may be defined as "the movement of persons from one country or locality to another." Diaspora may be defined as "the forcing of any people or ethnic population to leave their traditional homelands, the dispersal of such people, and the ensuing developments in their culture." These two scenarios are important to a deeper understanding of the women artists and works we'll explore.


  • worlds together--worlds apart
  • international women artists
  • unusual methods and materials
  • crossing the cultural divides
  • personal visions, global concerns
  • anti-war art by women–Mona Hatoum, Doris Salcedo
  • Sheela Gowda–installation artist and political activist
  • Mella Jaarsma–social activist artist, "What it's like to wear another’s skin"


By end of this module, you should able to

  • List the women artists of these eras
  • recognize the styles produced within the eras and discuss about the influences
  • project where women artists are heading beyond post-modernism
  • discuss the zeitgeist of the times in a variety of regions outside of one’s own
  • examine the popular culture, craft, and decoration that characterize women artists today

Women in World History

In this section of Women in World History, international contemporary women artists and influential cultural issues are discussed.

Art in the 21st Century

Kara Walker (b. 1969)

Walker's work explores race and gender and the best-known examples are large-scale silhouettes. 

Alison Saar (b. 1956)

Alison Saar is the daughter of Betye Saar whose work also transforms found objects. Her sculptures address identity and race.

Marina Abramovic (b. 1946)

Abromovic is Serbian-American performance artist who recently had a major retrospective at MoMA.

Mona Hatoum (b. 1952)

Hatoum was born in Beirut to Palestinian parents and trained in England. Her politcal sculptures and installations often address themes of displacement.

Shirin Neshat (b. 1957)

Neshat is an Iranian artist who studied in the United States. Her work addresses women's identity in a fundamentalist Islamic society.

Shirazeh Houshiary (b. 1955)

Houshiary is an Iranian sculptor and her work combines Islamic motifs with minialism.

Lalla Essaydi (b. 1965)

Essaydi was born in Morocco and her meticulously created images featuring the female body confront the western concepts of orientalism and exoticism. 

Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972)

Mutu is a Kenyan born artist who works in New York. She typically creates collages and her work was recently selected for the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Julie Mehretu (b. 1970)

Mehretu was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Michigan. Her paintings are labor intensive and address identity and cultural history.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)

Kusama is a Japanese artist whose best known projects are large-scale installations in which the viewer is completely immersed. Her career was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition that traveled to several museums across the country.

Monica Mayer (b. 1954)

Mayer is a Mexican conceptual artist. 

Doris Salcedo (b. 1958)

Salcedo is a Columbian sculptor whose work addresses memory and trauma.

Zarina Hashmi (b. 1937)

Hashmi is an Indian printmaker who resides in New York. 

Sheela Gowda (b. 1957)

Gowda is an Indian artist who creates sculptures from found materials.



There are several international artists/publishers web pages posted. Review these Internet resources, return here and respond to the instructions below: 

1. Select one work of art from the Week 7 International Resources links posted in Course Content. 

 2. Potential discussion topics: 

  • style 
  • symbolism 
  • identity 
  • diaspora 
  • personal concern of the artist
  • global vision of the artist
  • migration


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