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Celebrating Renaissance Women, Old and New

The Erasure of Women Artists and Why it Must Stop.

Marie-Denise Villers, Young Woman Drawing, 1801

Gerda Lerner once wrote that “Women have always made history as much as men, not ‘contributed’ to it.”

Replace the word “history” with “art,” and this statement still holds true. Yet outside of art circles, women painters are largely absent from modern discussions of great Renaissance painters. They seem forgotten.

If you had asked me what I’d be doing in life during law school in London, I would not have responded “a fashion-film producing, songwriting art dealer.”

Yet here I am, traveling the globe on a world changing culture adventure stumbling upon art that inspires my creative ideas.

From the tranquility of dense forests in Fontainebleau, a French town south of Paris, to unforgiving winters in Central Asia, my travels have gifted me with once in a lifetime experiences, new languages but most of all, tipping point moments which alter my life trajectory.

One of these was at a private art party. A boisterous lady in green playfully taunted us with a simple question: “Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci?”

Whilst we often enjoy the debate, throwing Caravaggio and Giovanni into the mix, something troubled me that evening.

Why was Italian renaissance artist Sofonisba Anguissola not mentioned? What about Lavinia Fontana, and other respected female Renaissance painters?

We all know that Renaissance art was primarily a man’s domain. A combination of societal expectations and limited access to art training or mentorship made it difficult for women to thrive.

They had to fight for a seat at the table of influence. Doesn’t this sound painfully familiar?

Despite “progress”, the upper echelons of art, architecture, tech, finance, science and corporate boardrooms still reveal a scarcity of women.

It’s high time we tapped into our modern Renaissance women: those who blend art with science and intellectual curiosity.

The 350 Project is an art collection of women visionaries who do this.

I started the project in collaboration with artists to bring multidisciplinary visionaries together, inspiring future generations and opening windows for collaboration.

Through the 350 Project, I was fortunate to connect with colossal women such as Venture Capitalist Nisa Amoils, a CNBC/Fox and others Judge Panelist and Angel Investor whose angel portfolio focuses on female founders. Or take Cynthia Breazeal, a pioneering Robotics Engineer and Professor at MIT whose mind-blowing TED talk on AI with social intelligence reignites our capacity to dream and imagine.

We need to celebrate MBE Professor of Fashion and Science Helen Storey, whose outstanding work will continue through collaborating – via the 350 Project – with Fiona McAlpine and the all-women founding team of sustainable fashion brand Fabric Social.

Their synergy and sisterhood-like energy defines this movement. I discovered that women, more so than men, are all too willing to support and lift each other.

Scaling and linking the dots to accelerate these opportunities for them to do so is my mission, my purpose. The possibilities are endless.

But this does not mean men should sit on the sidelines. It is our duty to lift and support one another regardless of sex, race, faith or other obstacles that tend to halt progress. How else will humanity truly progress?

More dialogue, understanding and collaboration between us all is needed for us to move forward.

A wise elder once told me, ‘Ken, never make a promise you won’t give everything to keep.’

So, on behalf of all visionaries who share the vision of shining light on women creators and history-makers, the 350 Project intends to keep this one.

Renaissance woman, this time, we won’t forget you.

Kenneth Douglas Mukasa
KD Mukasa

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