Great art and design can decorate, educate, advocate, inspire, and challenge. At its core, art is about expression. Women’s creativity has impacted the art world, and the world at large, by challenging viewers to see the beauty and injustice of the world from their perspective.

Collection Objects

Learn the stories behind these objects or explore more American women artists and their art in the collections

Conversation Kit

Let's Talk! Native Women and Civic Action Conversation Kit

Grades 8–12. Time: Variable (1–4 class periods). Aligned to CCSS and C3 standards.

In this lesson plan, students will learn how different women artists, including Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Shan Goshorn, and Matika Wilbur, have used their art to bring attention to important issues that have affected marginalized people. Students will also look at, and use, art as a tool to explore new perspectives and think about it as a way to create change or take informed action.


The REDress Project, an outdoor art installation by artist Jaime Black (Métis), features empty red dresses. Black hopes to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Native women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence. 

Maya Lin's lifelong concern for the environment is at the core of her projects and site-specific works, including "Folding the Chesapeake," her installation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery in the Wonder exhibition (November 13, 2015 – July 10, 2016).