Women of Won­der

A new col­lec­tion of the finest minds cur­rently work­ing in fan­tasy and sci-fi art – ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Reviews -

Tthat such a thing should need to be pointed out at all in 2015 is un­for­tu­nate, but purely for any knee­jerk gen­der­phobes out there, there’s no need to fear. Cathy Fen­ner has not put to­gether this col­lec­tion of work from women artists as some kind of un­likely at­tempt to fi­nally over­throw the pa­tri­archy and end the clue­less dom­i­na­tion of men af­ter mil­len­nia of civil­i­sa­tion mis­man­age­ment.

Fen­ner states in her in­tro­duc­tion that this is a cel­e­bra­tion of con­tem­po­rary women artists in the fan­tasy field, peo­ple who have tri­umphed in a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der. And what a qual­ity cel­e­bra­tion it is, as we have come to ex­pect from Un­der­wood, the pub­lish­ers that launched the trail­blaz­ing Spec­trum art col­lec­tions.

Com­ing from those fa­mous sup­port­ers of fan­tas­tic sketch­ers, it’s fun­da­men­tally a show­case for 60 or so no­table names. Many ImagineFX reg­u­lars are in­cluded, such as Ter­ryl Whit­latch, Cyn­thia Shep­pard and Mélanie Delon – in fact there’s even an ImagineFX cover in there!

Ev­ery name (or part­ner­ship) is given a spread, so we don’t get a wide ar­ray of work from each, rather a sin­gle im­age they feel best rep­re­sents their work and a quote – vary­ing from a sen­tence to a man­i­festo – on how they feel about their place in the art world. Long-gone fe­male pioneers such as Mar­garet Brundage, ‘Queen of Pulp Pin-up Art’ are also rep­re­sented, with care­fully cho­sen quotes to show what made them great.

There’s a wide ar­ray of prac­ti­tion­ers in­cluded, and many have hugely op­pos­ing at­ti­tudes to their work, and even to this book. Like most ar­eas of our cul­ture, the male skew on fan­tasy, folk­lore and sci-fi has barely been ques­tioned be­fore, so it’s good to see ‘vis­ual sto­ry­tellers’ with dif­fer­ent tales to tell, telling them so ex­pres­sively – be it Kei Acedera’s charm­ing sea mon­ster, LD Austin’s steel-plated War­rior Queen (left), or Lisa Falken­stern’s com­i­cal pig rider. Each spread leaves you want­ing more.

As a snap­shot of women on the vis­ual fan­tasy scene in 2015, Women of Won­der is the first such book to fo­cus on this one artis­tic group and a col­lec­tion many will cher­ish.

Fan­tasy paint­ings by Lau­rie Lee Brom (left) and LD Austin are in­cluded in the book.

Amer­i­can artist Re­becca Léveillé-Guay’s ten­der paint­ing has clear Re­nais­sance in­flu­ences.

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