The art exhibition “She Inspires,” opening May 2 at the Untitled Space in New York, showcases artwork inspired by women who left their mark on history. The massive collection includes portraits of historical figures like Egyptian queen Nefertiti, Nina Simone, and Queen Elizabeth II, and contemporary icons including Michelle Obama and Alicia Keys. Ten percent of the show’s proceeds will go to She Should Run, an organization that encourages women to run for office.
“Historically speaking, women’s history has often been marginalized or sectioned off into its own category of ‘women’s studies,’ as if it is not a ‘real’ part of the history of the world,” curator Indira Cesarine told the Cut. “I wanted ‘She Inspires’ to include art that has a strong visual impact and also that could pique the curiosity of the viewer to learn more about the subjects of the works.” Cesarine created one piece for the show herself, titled My Name is Victoria Woodhull for Victoria Woodhull, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement who became the first American woman to run for president in 1872.
Nineteen paintings from the show appear in the slideshow ahead, each image noted with the women who inspired the piece. Artist Rebecca Leveille explained choosing Michelle Obama for her portrait State of Grace: “What she represents in all her actions, in her very identity, the best things about what a powerful woman is and what they can do with the grace of their spirit — she inspires,” she said. Click ahead to preview the exhibit.