22 Influential Women You Probably Didn't Learn About in School

Victoria Woodhull, Althea Gibson, Hypatia
Victoria Woodhull, Althea Gibson, Hypatia / Victoria Woodhull, Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images // Althea Gibson, AFP/AFP via Getty Images // Hypatia, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
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12. Kenojuak Ashevak

Kenojuak Ashevak’s colorful, dynamic drawings and prints portray the animals and people of her homeland, Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. Born in 1927, she lived among seasonal camps in the Inuit tradition, where she began drawing and carving along with her husband, Johnniebo. In the 1960s, the family moved to Kinngait (then known as Cape Dorset), a permanent settlement where her children could attend school, and where Ashevak started producing prints of her artwork as the first woman member of the community’s printmaking shop.

Her inventive and captivating works depicting birds, seals, and human/animal beings immediately caught the art world’s attention, launching a renewed interest in Inuit art and highlighting the Cape Dorset artists. Ashevak’s most famous work, 1960’s The Enchanted Owl—which showed an owl with dramatic feathers reminiscent of a Matisse cut-out—was featured on a Canadian postage stamp in 1970. She continued to produce prints, drawings, and sculptures until her death in 2013, and today she's revered as one of Canada’s most important graphic artists.