In her essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”, Nochlin addresses how the notion of artistic “greatness” has been equated with masculinity. The term “woman artist” suggests a label, a separate or distinct category from the term “artist” alone. Male artists, on the other hand, are often seen as artists with no necessary identifier. This section highlights the ongoing struggle between social and cultural expectations of women and the development of an individual artistic voice. Women continue to be excluded from the art historical canon. As a result, they must fight for their rightful place in the art world and face the nuanced challenges that come with being labeled as both a woman and an artist separately.
These artworks explore the tension between the terms woman and artist, as well as chart multiple pathways for feminist creativity. The battle between the two identities, the roles projected onto women by society, and their internal sense of self looms large for many women artists. These women use their art to declare their genuine selves and combat society’s projections onto them and their work. Their artwork is made in the service of self-discovery and proclamation, and as a step toward gaining access into the traditionally male-dominated art world.