Abstract: Painting Feminist Issues via Symbolism

         For an art movement characterized in part by the ubiquitous female form, there is an astounding lack of information on the female artists who shaped Symbolism. I will learn about the movement itself, feminine issues prevalent during the period, and the lives of five female artists – Elena Polenova, Maria Yakunchikova, Frida Kahlo, Evelyn De Morgan, and Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh – to provide context for their artwork. I will then analyze works from each woman with an emphasis on the symbols used, the tension between imagination and realistic representation, and how those aspects create meaning.

The imaginative, metaphorical qualities of Symbolism will help me paint about topics that are painful and controversial. Therefore, I will consciously employ techniques and ideas culled from my research to create art that addresses female issues and emotions in an activist manner. The three oil paintings I create will also act as tangible proof of the significance of the Symbolist women studied and a continuation of their legacies.