10 Emerging Female Artists To Know In The Middle Of America

Art’s distinct ability to awaken us in a transformational, profound way is perhaps more important now than ever. Working on a level of deeper consciousness, this generation of young, trailblazing female artists are creating work that brings us into contact with that which cannot be ignored. You can find them all across the middle of America—from Nashville to Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Karen Seapker
Nashville-based artist Karen Seapker’s large-scale oil paintings are stunning. Think Salvador Dali and surrealism with a vibrant fuschia and pastel-blue twist. But Seapker’s work isn’t just beautiful to look at: by way of scale alone, each piece envelopes the viewer into a world where it’s safe to explore themes of sexuality and partnership, with sumptuous shapes and several recognizably figurative forms.

Ashley Mintz
Also based in Nashville, artist Ashley Mintz’s paintings and drawings, particularly from the exhibition “Being Black In America,” are a must-see. Listing Romare Bearden and Jean-Michel Basquiat among her artistic influences, Mintz’s powerful explorations of color, gender, race and the interpretation of cultural messages will leave you questioning what you think you know.

Kasia Houlihan
Based in Chicago, emerging artist Kasia Houlihan’s tender photography, expansive installation pieces and ethereal works on paper successfully engage viewer interest and raise many questions. “I want to understand how we absorb those around us,” the artist ponders, as many of her pieces explore relational space and closeness.

Stephanie Graham
Using primarily photography and video work, Chicago-based artist Stephanie Graham’s explorations and discoveries showcase her knack for capturing a stunning image in a variety of ways. Whether working on the set of the hit NBC show “Chicago PD” or crafting a new series of images, Graham’s explorations of Black America and classism are a must-see.

Aza E. Abe
Minneapolis-based artist Aza Abe‘s ethereal paintings explore identity, family and personal narrative. Each piece begins on a grid, which may or may not still remain visible when the work is completed. As a Native woman, beginning each of her pieces this way holds particular confrontational meaning: “Within this ‘modern’ existence, Native people have been subject to extreme forms of measurement: lands allotted, artifacts and ancestors exhumed to be catalogued, and the blood quantum of individuals generationally mapped,” the artist states.

Sage Dawson
This artist’s multi-faceted approach to her work and subject matter leads to an exploration of cartography, land use and public space, resulting in a fascinating dialogue. Dawson also founded the artist-run gallery STNDRD in Granite City, Illinois, in the city’s art-and-design district. Be on the lookout for this determined artist and the surrounding community in her wake.

Addoley Dzegede
Addoley Dzegede’s pieces incorporate cloth and pattern, including kente, a brightly colored cloth traditionally made in Ghana, where her father is from. Dzegede’s work unpacks the diverging histories of her parent and relatives, as another patterned piece features an image of her grandmother. “The image I used is actually her identity card she was assigned when she worked at a telephone company during World War II,” says Dzegede.

Jen Everett
Based in St. Louis, Jen Everett’s photographic exploration of race, time and identity incorporates found objects, even turning physical images into actual objects. “A lot of my recent work has been dealing with archival digging and thinking about the past, present, future, memory, and grouping archival things together,” says Everett.

Danielle McCoy, WORK/PLAY
As one half of the creative partnership WORK/PLAY, Danielle McCoy and her partner Kevin McCoy experiment with text, typography, prints, and cloth to craft resonant messages about the culturally construction Black identity, removing it from its context and reflecting it back to viewers. The result is an example of how design can become a medium for unbridled artistic expression and creative communication.

Katherine Simone Reynolds
St. Louis-based artist Kat Reynolds’ photography has been heralded in the city for exploring Blackness, femininity, sexuality and more, all with the artist’s signature emotionally fused touch. Along with a group of other St. Louis artists (including Jen Everett, Addoley Dzegede and Danielle McCoy of WORK/PLAY), Reynolds will also partake in an upcoming group show in New York City at 4 Times Square March 6-12, 2018.

Photo courtesy of Kelli Tungay.

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