This is What Feminist Art Looks Like

nude abstract drawings of a woman

Fine artist Donna Isham has premiered her latest female-centric series, “unBounded,” in Miami. “I strive to depict the true courage, beauty and individuality of women — who will no longer be marginalized, subjugated and treated like second class citizens,” she says.

The installation of 22 paintings was constructed similarly to a jigsaw puzzle, with individual paintings arranged as parts of the whole — speaking to the diversity and complexity of women.

A self-taught abstract and figurative painter, Isham allows humanistic values, that permeate her work – the resilience and compassion of humanity. She draws her influence from a vast experience in the entertainment and fashion industry, and more recently from a philanthropic angle that her career has taken — serving as President of Artists for the Human Rights Foundation. You’ll also find her artistic works in private collections around the world.

In unBounded, Isham uses acrylic, charcoal, oil and pastel to reconstruct the female form in an abstract way, reshaping the standardized ideals of female symmetry to a more fluid concept of beauty and power— unBounded. Naked and raw, the series of paintings are seen as parts of a whole. The approach is pure and poetic, done with swift gestural motions, sensual and emotive lines and shading. 

Explaining her thinking, Isham says: “I am seeking to break the preconceptions that limit us. As women, nurturers, leaders and as a workforce, we have been subjugated for too long by archaic portrayals of women. These stereotypes no longer serve us. This is also true in art — We’ve had too few women painting women from a female perspective, their experience, and passion. We need to embrace our diversity, sexuality, power, and individuality. That’s why I titled the series unBounded — to suggest that we have no limits.”

In the artists figurative abstract works she utilizes live models and photographs, exploring different forms of the body, and a variety of materials from oil and acrylic, to charcoals and pastels. Her strong, dramatic and swift mark-making with brushes and palette knives compels the viewer to experience motion and emotion. “I’m interested in distilling feelings and emotion in my work in order to create a dialogue with the viewer,” she says. “I want to reevaluate female beauty and power in all its forms.”

With unBound, Isham chose to depict the deconstructed female form using only black, white and shades of grey. She explains this approach by saying, “I want to challenge perceptions by taking away the familiarity of color — focusing more on the subject matter and its emotional state. In my case, the raw, naked power of women.”

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