Women Shaping Culture 

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Ashley Longshore

Frida in the Swarm, 2019

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas with heavy resin

Courtesy of Ashley Longshore Gallery

Frida Kahlo

FRIDA KAHLO (1907–1954) was a Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits. Frida Kahlo’s paintings are filled with vibrant colors, artifacts, and symbolism from Mexican culture. Her work was often autobiographical and reflected on the lifelong pain and suffering she felt as a result of a childhood disease and a bus accident that occurred when she was eighteen. Kahlo taught herself to paint, and she often painted lying on her back from her hospital bed. She is one of the most prolific artists with a disability, which never stopped her from painting. Though Kahlo did not classify herself as a Surrealist—instead noting that her paintings were the “frankest expression of myself”—her work is often identified with the movement, which was popularized by artists including Salvador Dalí who created illogical scenes informed by the unconscious mind.

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Click on the link to view a family friendly video of the life and work of Frida Kahlo with an added art project idea about drawing a self-portrait for kids at the end.

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Ashley Longshore

Lee Miller, 2019

Acrylic on custom wood panel

Courtesy of Ashley Longshore Gallery

Lee Miller

LEE MILLER (1907-1977) was an American photographer, photojournalist, artist, and model who was known in her lifetime for her participation in the Surrealist movement and her beauty that was often captured by other artists and by Vogue magazine. She and the photographer Man Ray developed the technique of solarization, a process of reversing the negative and positive parts of a photo to produce halo like outlines enhancing the lights and darks of a photograph. But what was discovered after her death was a collection of thousands of negatives and prints that she had taken. Included in that collection was some of the first photographic evidence taken of the atrocities committed in Nazi concentration camps and images of the devastation in the aftermath of World War II.

Click to view a video created for the Imperial War Museum’s retrospective, “Lee Miller: A Woman’s War.”

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Toni Morrison

TONI MORRISON (1931–2019) was an African American novelist, nonfiction writer, and professor. Morrison’s novels focus on the lives, history, culture, and experiences of the African American community, especially focused on African American women. She first gained national recognition in 1977 by winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for her critically acclaimed novel Song of Solomon (1977). Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for her novel Beloved (1987) and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Oprah Winfrey starred in the 1998 film version of Beloved, Morrison’s true story of a runaway enslaved woman who, at the point of recapture, kills her infant daughter to spare her a life in slavery. Morrison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2020.

Ashley Longshore

Toni Morrison, 2019

Acrylic on custom wood panel

Courtesy of Ashley Longshore Gallery

Click to see the movie trailer for Toni Morrison’s Beloved, starring Oprah Winfrey.

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Nina Simone
 

NINA SIMONE (1933–2003) was an American singer, pianist, and songwriter whose work was influenced by gospel, folk, blues, jazz, and classical music. She studied classical music as a pianist at the Julliard School of Music in New York City. At the early age of twelve, Simone felt the injustice of racism when her parents were made to stand in the back of the room during her piano recital because they were Black. This racist moment left a lasting impact on Simone and led her to a lifetime of civil rights activism and close circle of friends including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Her song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” (1970) is considered an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. Simone permanently left the United States in 1973 because of the country’s continued racism, living the rest of her life in the Caribbean Island Barbados and countries in both Africa and Europe. Some of her most well-known songs include “My Baby Just Cares for Me” (1957), “I Put a Spell on You” (1965), and “Feeling Good” (1965).

Ashley Longshore  

Nina Simone, 2019  

Acrylic on canvas  

Courtesy of Ashley Longshore Gallery

Click to view the official video of “Feeling Good” made by The Estate and Charitable Trust of Nina Simone.

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DIANA ROSS (b. 1944) is an American singer and actor whose career has spanned the past seven decades. Ross originally gained fame as the leader of Motown’s vocal group The Supremes. In 1970, Ross began a solo career as a singer and actor. Her acting roles include starring as the blues singer Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (1972) and as Dorothy in The Wiz (1978), a remake of L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz (1939). Ross was named “Female Entertainer of the Century” by Billboard in 1976 and she was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Her other awards include a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Ross is well known for hit songs such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1970), “Upside Down” (1980), and “I’m Coming Out” (1980). 

Diana Ross

Ashley Longshore

Diana Ross, 2019  

Acrylic on canvas  

Courtesy of Ashley Longshore Gallery 

Click to view Diana Ross and the Supremes singing, “Stop! In the Name of Love,” at The Hollywood Palace in 1965. 

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Lady Gaga
 

LADY GAGA (b. 1986) is a Grammy-winning American singer, songwriter, actor, and activist who was born in New York City. At an early age, her musical talent and her strong vocal ability set her apart. Today, she is celebrated for her musical versatility, strong screen presence, and flamboyant costumes and performances. Lady Gaga is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and founded the Born this Way Foundation in 2011 to help young people by promoting the power of kindness and bravery, working to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. Her acting roles include leads in the remake of A Star Is Born (2018), House of Gucci (2021), and reoccurring roles on the television series American Horror Story (2011–). Lady Gaga’s many chart-topping songs, including “Bad Romance” (2009) and “Born This Way” (2011), have elevated her to a stratospheric level of stardom.  

Ashley Longshore  

Lady Gaga, 2019  

Acrylic on canvas  

Courtesy of Ashley Longshore Gallery 

Frida Kahlo
 

Click to view Lady Gaga singing “Million Reasons,” Live at the Royal Variety Performance.

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LIZZO (b. 1988) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, and pop artist. A classically trained flutist, Lizzo played the flute in her high school band, trained as a classical flutist in college, and now samples the flute on her albums and uses the flute as a key component of her energetic live performances. Lizzo’s Grammy-winning music has been influenced by everything from classic rock to gospel and hip hop, soul, funk-pop, and rap. The artist is known in popular culture for her body confidence, bold fashion sense, and her advocacy for body positivity in both her songs and through her social media platforms. Her hits, including “Good as Hell” (2016) and “Truth Hurts” (2019), inspire young women to be strong, self-reliant, and to love themselves. 

Lizzo

Ashley Longshore  

Lizzo, 2019  

Acrylic on canvas  

Courtesy of Ashley Longshore Gallery

Click to see Lizzo’s interview with Good Morning America about her new series, Watch out for Big Girls.