Ten Ringling College of Art and Design students were chosen to create biographical sketches of under-celebrated women artists for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The project was a collaboration between the Smithsonian and Ringling College’s INDEX program. The students created short comics 12 to 16 frames apiece to celebrate women artists who didn’t receive the recognition they deserved in their lifetime.
The 10 winners were chosen from 29 illustration students who entered the Ringling College competition. Each winner received a $1,000 prize and has their work displayed on SAAM’s website.
The project “has been a phenomenal career-advancing opportunity for our students,” said Ringling College of Art and Design President Larry Thompson. “Working to tell the stories of these important women artists has drawn upon our students’ talent, creativity and ability to work collaboratively.”
Ringling graduate Emily Fromhage was one of the students chosen. She says it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Fromhage is a German artist who moved to the U.S. at 15. She chose to do her project on Anni Albers, a German-Jewish weaver who studied at Bauhaus, a German art and design school, and became one of the greatest textile artists.
“I thought would be nice to be able to cover the story of somebody who’s also German and to learn a little bit more about the art history of my own country,” Fromhage said. “I got to learn so much more about the great artists that came from my own country.”
Fromhage said she had never written or designed a comic before and that working with SAAM gave her confidence as a young, woman artist.
Fromhage grew up reading comics like ‘Asterix and Obelix’ and ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ — both male-led comics. She hopes her work inspires other women across the world.
“I hope that children and especially little girls seeing these comics will be able to feel confident in themselves as well and know that they can be artists,” Fromhage said.
SAAM created the project to give young artists the opportunity to identify, honor and highlight ground-breaking women artists who paved the way. Fromhage hopes SAAM will continue to inspire other young artists.
“The biggest thing is to just do something, even if you are not completely confident in whether or not you’re qualified,” Fromhage said. “I think a lot of artists get very caught up in whether they’re good enough or not to work on a project.”