Painting by Vaanya Hassan
From the artist: In today’s society, it is important to recognize the hidden and silenced female icons that have contributed greatly to the world we live in and deserve to stand alongside their highly praised male counterparts. Raphael, a renaissance artist, painted a fresco featuring highly influential people residing within the fictional School of Athens. Those people, however, are overwhelmingly male, with only one female portrayed in a room full of 50 individuals. My painting highlights and celebrates the achievements of influential women in history by placing them inside the same School of Athens that Raphael created. In an effort to avoid glorifying these women’s lives and erasing their struggles, the women are inside a smaller, less grand room in the fictional school, and have a significantly less amount of eager and adoring pupils than the men in the original fresco. The objective of this painting is to encourage the awareness of these subtle forms of oppression against women, the kinds that many people wouldn't have noticed in the first place. Raphael's "School of Athens" more than deserves to be praised for its incredible techniques and aesthetic, but it's time to help rectify the problematic undertones of its subjects.