14 Women Artists Who’ve Changed The way We think About Design

Anne Wilson: Anne Wilson is a Chicago-based artist who creates sculpture, drawings, performances and video animations. She often uses everyday materials like linen, human hair, wire, lace and thread to explore themes of time, loss and privacy. As she states on her website: “My work evolves in a conceptual space where social and political ideas encounter the fabric processes of handwork and industry, where the organization of fields and the objects they help generate is consistently subverted by the swarming, anarchic energy of the objects themselves.”

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Wind-Up: Walking the Warp Houston, 2010, Anne Wilson, Performance and sculpture, Photo by Simon Gentry.

6. Vivianna Torun Vivianna Torun is frequently cited as considered one of Sweden’s most well-known silversmiths, a master jeweler with a beat-meets-chic personal style. During her lifetime, she rubbed elbows with artists like Picasso and Matisse in the Parisian salons and famously created an eponymous watch. Of the “Vivianna” design, the late artist proclaimed: “I didn’t need to be trapped by time, so I made the watch open, made it shiny and took away everything that was watch-like, so while you looked at the watch you saw yourself and the second hand which reminded you that life is now, now, now, now./p>

Vivianna Torun, Silver necklet and earrings with turquoise blue ceramic beads of Ancient Egyptian origin, 1954, Courtesy of Georg Jensen, Photographer unknown.

7. Dorothy Liebes American textile designer Dorothy Liebes, who lived from 1897 to 1972, was primarily a weaver who collaborated with architects and interior designers. Her boldly hued textiles often incorporated some surprising media: feathers, metals, ticker tape, leather, bamboo. Frank Lloyd Wright commissioned work from her, and she consulted with major companies like DuPont and Dow, helping to develop mass machinery that mimicked the consequences of hand-looming.

Prototype Theatre Curtain for DuPont Pavillion, New York World’s Fair, 1964, Dorothy Liebes, DuPont Orlon and Fairtex metallic yarn, 99 1/2 x 46 3/4 in. (252.7 x 118.7 cm), Museum of Arts and Design; gift of Dorothy Liebes Design, through the American Craft Council, 1973, Photo by Eva Heyd.

8. Olga de Amaral Olga de Amaral iss a Colombian textile artist who creates massive tapestries lace with gold and silver leaf, metallic paint and gesso, largely inspired by pre-Hispanic art. “A large part of Olga’s production has been concerned with gold,” Edward-Lucie-Smith wrote, “but there are in reality no equivalents for what she makes in Pre-Columbian archaeology. Nevertheless one feels that such objects ought in logic to exist — that she has supplied an absence.”

Hanging #57, ca. 1957, Olga de Amaral, Hand spun wool, 87 x 43 in. (221 x 109.2 cm), Museum of Arts and Design; gift of the Dreyfus Foundation, through the American Craft Council, 1989, Photo by Eva Heyd.

9. Toshiko Takaezu A Japanese-American ceramist, Toshiko Takaezu was known for her small- and huge-scale stoneware and porcelain works, pieces that channeled bits of Abstract Expressionism, as well as traditional motifs from classic Japanese pottery. Before her death in 2011, the artist targeting ceramics that were meant to be seen and not necessarily used, often creating permanent lids for her pieces, equivalent to in her memorable “closed forms.”

Toshiko Takaezu, ca. 1960, Photo by John Paul Miller, Courtesy American Craft Council.

10. Eva Zeisel Hungarian-born industrial designer Eva Zeisel began a prestigious career in Germany and Russia before moving to the United States in the late 1930s, teaching for Pratt Institute in New York and headlining the first one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art. Her works often mimicked the curves of a human body, but every piece she made was intended for utility, with bits of Hungarian folk flair mixed in.

Resilient Chair Frame, ca. 1948-1949, Eva Zeisel, designer, Hudson Fixtures USA, manufacturer, Chrome-plated tubular steel, 28 1/2 x 26 x 26 1/2 in. (72.4 x 66 x 67.3 cm), Courtesy of Jean Richards.

11. Anni Albers Anni Albers was a textile designer, draughtsman and printmaker who was steeped in Bauhaus traditions, creating works based on color relationships and abstractions. Like other women on this list, Albers wasn’t afraid to incorporate unusual materials — paper and cellophane — into her weavings to create a distinct aesthetic that explored art’s ability to supply “stability and order” in life.

Tikal, 1958, Anni Albers, Cotton, 30 X 23 (76.2 x 58.4 cm), Museum of Arts and Design; gift of Johnson Wax Company, through the American Craft Council, 1979, Photo by Eva Heyd.

12. Karen Karnes New York City-born Karen Karnes is most famous for her stoneware ceramics, influenced by her training in both Italy and at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Her earth-colored clay pieces are created using older practices like wood and salt firing. Of her work, she notes: “Once i started working, I thought, well, I’m a potter. I need to make pots. I am making pots. After which when i moved from doing that to more sculptured things, it wasn’t a planned thing. It just happened in a natural way. And i never thought I would be famous, which I am now.”

Karen Karnes, 1958, Photo courtesy of the American Craft Council.

13. Vuokko Eskolin Nurmesniemi Vuokko Eskolin Nurmesniemi is a Finnish textile designer known for imagining the easy red-and-white striped fabric that would become the Jokapoika shirt, the primary piece of menswear for Marimekko. Her work is on permanent display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Untitled (circle dress), ca. 1964, Vuokko Eskolin Nurmesniemi, Screen printed cotton, 46 x 46 in. (116.8 x 116.8 cm), Museum of Arts and Design; gift of the American Craft Council, 1990, Photo by Eva Heyd.

14. Mary Kretsinger Kansas-born Mary Kretsinger, who died in 2001, is thought for her experimental metalwork and enameling. In her own words: “I work in precious metals, enamels, and precious stones to create unique pieces of jewelry. I don’t mass produce. I’m interested within the sculptural approach to jewelry and hope eventually to produce sculpture using, silver, gold, and enamel.She also notably created interchangeable ear pendants that could be attached to a number of various earrings.

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