Feminist Approaches: Conversations with Studio Gallery Artists

Studio Gallery is an artist-run cooperative, consisting of local artists around the DC area. Being at the heart of our nation’s capital, it’s impossible to avoid the political climate. I interviewed some of our artists to ask them about how feminism and women’s issues have influenced their artistic practices. Keep reading to learn more about Studio Gallery, and how three of our featured artists aim to support the feminist community with their artistic practices!

Studio Gallery’s Feminist History

Studio Gallery’s founding mothers.

Studio Gallery was founded in 1956 by Jennie Lea Knight, whose work is in The National Gallery of Art, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Philips Collection, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. The Gallery conducts community outreach programs and other charitable activities, all open to the public free of charge. Studio gallery also openly supports women in the arts- especially women of color- as well as the LGBTQ+ community.

~Meet The Artists~

Sally Kauffman

Studio Gallery artist Sally Kauffman has “practiced feminism all of [her] adult life,” and her practice has been shaped tremendously by the election of our 45th president. These recent political events have pushed her to “become an activist for human and civil rights and the environment”. Her priorities are clearly expressed in her paintings; especially those in her series “Catalyzed”.

Artist Statement for “Catalyzed”:

“Kauffman is best known for her abstract yet elusory large-scale paintings that celebrate and exude pleasure, working in series of paintings portraying themes from daily life: groups of people sharing meals, swimming, listening to music and most recently, civil resistance. Using figure and place as a starting point, the almost human scale figures, gestural brushwork and saturated, flowing color entice the viewer to engage in their own narrative.

Then This Happened, 2017, oil on canvas, 48” x 60”

Day 2, oil on canvas. This painting is also a part of “Catalyzed,” documenting the Women’s March and the intensity of emotions that have come with the wave of women ready to fight for their rights. Strength and unity are paired with a controlled sense of panic in these paintings. The brush strokes allude to the sheer magnitude of movement in the crowds, but also give each person pictured a unique personality and tangle of emotions.

Together, 2017, oil on canvas

Artist Statement Con’t

“Kauffman explores the common ground where abstraction and figuration coincide in "Catalyzed", a series of paintings of civil resistance. The paintings celebrate the physical and mental strength that empowered the people who made their voices heard during the "Women's March". Almost human scale figures, gestural brushwork and saturated, flowing color entice the viewer to engage in their own narrative. Kauffman captures moments in snapshots and digitally manipulates the the composition and intensity of color. The dense, saturated images become the source for the paintings.”

Taking Action:

“I donated Nasty Women to the Nasty Women Exhibition & Auction to support Planned Parenthood and District of Columbia Arts Center. Erin Devine and Shante Bullock of ArtWatch organized and curated the exhibition. ArtWatch members raised $4459 for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and $1911 for our host, the DC Arts Center. I am on the leadership committee of ArtWatch.”

You can find Sally Kauffman’s painting “Nasty Women” here.

Nasty Women, 2017, oil on canvas, 30” x 30”

”Painta” - Shawn Lindsay

Studio Gallery artist “Painta” has supported feminism throughout his artistic career, emphasizing his support of women presenting themselves as they want and without outside opinions.

Venus Awaits, oil on canvas, 30” x 24”, 2016

Painta’s Mission:

“While browsing social media, I find myself attracted to what I like to think are phenomenons that involve women. With the evolving times of acceptance and equality, you have women finding their own voices. Women are starting to present and express themselves free of outside opinions. Social media platforms have allowed women to be heard and seen. I use my art to document this movement I believe is happening.”

About Feminism:

“Feminism has influenced my art practice by forcing me to forget what think I know about women and what it is to be "lady like". Being shy. As I first started to paint the figure outside of school, when asking for models or help with image references, I wouldn't ask for a certain look or pose. Only what was comfortable to them and what they wanted to be seen as far as body parts.  During my searches through social media for "regular" women who are comfortable in their skin, I learned women want to be seen as human and not objects. Nothing new. But also that women want to look/present themselves how they want minus someone else's opinion. Mainly men. I noticed a call for a stop to policing women's body image.”

Arabian Jasmine, Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”. 2017.

“[This] piece is Fuchias, a nude figure painting of a woman standing with fuchia flowers painted around her. She's African American and has her unshaved pubic hair on display. This piece has brought up conversations of bravery and confidence. Some women praising the woman in the painting for her shameless display of pubic hair. Other women speaking on their insecurities not knowing if they could be with their pubic hair grown out thick.”

“Golden is a large scale charcoal drawing (51 1/2 x 69) of a vulva. I feel this piece has made an impact because it's raised questions of body awareness amongst women and conversations on how powerful the female figure is.”


“I never thought about having an impact on women solely. Because I feel it's not my place to impose on a women's thoughts [and] choices due to me being male. But I want my work to impact society as a whole. I'm going to change the perception of the female nude figure as a sex symbol. And paying attention to how a woman presents herself may it be modest, uncovered, confident, healthy, courageous, or sexy. A human displaying her energy, not a thing on display to lust over.”

Miriam Keeler

Studio Gallery artist Miriam Keeler has “been involved in feminism since [she] was a girl.” She has focused many of her recent paintings on famous female artists in history, including Louise Bourgeois and Alice Neel. In these paintings, she explores her thoughts on feminism through different artists’ lenses, ultimately creating multi-dimensional works filled with rich imagery.

Thoughts on Feminism:

“I’ve always believed that girls should have equal rights, and live free of harassment and prejudice. When I was young, there were no laws against harassment. It was a totally different world. I guess you could say that I am genetically a feminist!”

Looking For My Inner Beckman, oil on canvas, 22” x 28”, 2012.

In Her Paintings:

When asked about the content of her work in relation to feminism, Miriam explained the following: “I’m interested in women, and the relations between men and women, more from a psychological standpoint in my paintings.” She also focuses in on famous female artists, and uses her collage-like compositions to analyze and explore the sex-and-gender-based viewpoints of those artists. For example, one of her latest focuses has been Louise Bourgouis, and Louise’s idea that “men and women [are] diametrically opposed” in that women will always be victims of male violence. To combat this concept, she would make conceptually collaged images of different ways in which men and women could meld, be it physically or psychologically. Miriam has taken this method of “repairing,” or sewing together, to symbolically attempt to bridge the gap between men and women to reach an equilibrium.

Homage To Alma Thomas, oil on canvas, 36” x 36”. In this painting, Miriam Keeler celebrates the life and powerful artwork of female artist of color Alma Thomas, who was an important part of the 1960s-70s art scene in Washington DC. Miriam portrays Alma here in an environment that reflects her very own artwork. The artist is pictured as being at the forefront of a studio filled with vividly colored, abstract expressionist patterns and shapes. Alma’s powerful pose represents her strength as an artist, her influence on the art world, and her boundless creativity. Miriam Keeler has made several homages, celebrating the lives of famous women in the arts. You can find more here.

Close Up:

In Miriam Keeler’s tryptic “Short History of Sex,” she once again explores ideas of gender and sexuality with Louise Bourgeois in mind. The compositions of these pastel works seem to be biblical- especially the center piece- and the figures are abstracted, their gender identities melded and emphasized. Due to the multiplicity of the images and title, each artwork is representative of a different phase in the history of sex.

Short History of Sex

Halley Stubis.png

From staff contributor Halley Stubis.