Feminine Mystique: Six Powerhouse Females from the Cultured Archives

Thelma Golden Architect David Adjaye’s new Studio Museum in Harlem is just around the corner but its wings stretch much further than the building site thanks to the stewardship of director Thelma Golden. A bonafide New York proportioned icon, Golden has forged an astonishing foundation of mentorship within the closed ranks of art institutions. We can’t wait for the next chapter.

Photography by Brigitte LaCombe.

Robin Givhan If anyone has given us the faith that fashion can change it’s Robin Givhan. An award-winning reporter and the Washington Post senior editor at large, Givhan has broken down the boundaries of the industry with her pen by reconnecting garment-making and marketing with daily life and the nuances of its impossibly intricate stage.

denise scott brown
Denise Scott Brown in her home, 2019. Photo by Eva O'Leary.

Denise Scott Brown Learning from Las Vegas is elemental to understanding the American landscape. Architect and theorist Denise Scott Brown’s writings have that effect. The long-time partner and collaborator of Robert Venturi, Brown is prolific in her own right as well—writing for decades on the gender imbalance in architecture’s insidious effect on our built environs.

Ming Smith
Portrait by Katsu Naito.

Ming Smith Ming Smith was the first Black female photographer acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, but she almost turned it down, holding her ground over an insulting price offered by the curators who recognized her insane talent for portraiture. Smith’s oeuvre is now celebrated in its glorious, action-seeking detail including right now as part of the Whitney’s current Kamoinge Workshop show.


Wendy Carlos Wendy Carlos changed sound forever. Her three-time Grammy-winning album, the 1968 “Switched-On Bach,” was the first classical album to go platinum and sent the signal through the music world that synthesizers could be accessible. The composer behind Stanley Kubrick’s iconic A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, Carlos’s work demands spotlight while its maker continues to shirk it.

Photography by Olivia Locher.

Shirin Neshat Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat can never return to her homeland because the current regime views her photography and filmmaking practice as threatening to their powerful grip. Neshat’s groundbreaking images do spark fires. The artist has been a prolific force in contemporary art and now is making a move into Hollywood with her second feature film.