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6 Inspirational Philly Women Artists To Follow on Instagram Now

By Shruti Rajkumar | September 24, 2020 | Culture

It’s no secret that the past few months of quarantine have led to a plethora of creative projects. And from redecorating your at-home office to picking up a few new hobbies, we’ve all been in need of some inspiration. Here, we highlight six talented women artists to inspire your social (and creative) feed.


Jessica Libor, @jessicaliborstudio

Drawing on inspiration from nature and the female form and spirit, Libor’s paintings incorporate cool tones and elaborate costuming to create a sense of transcendence of life and peace with nature. On September 25, three of Libor’s artworks will be featured in The New Pre-Raphaelites: a group virtual exhibition curated by her own local gallery, Era Contemporary Gallery, in collaboration with Bryn Mawr’s Harcum College. The exhibition celebrates contemporary magical realism art.


Dora Cuenca, @dora_cuenca

Dabbling in multiple mediums like murals, digital illustrations and custom fine art submissions, Dora Cuenca’s artwork is rooted in curiosity and intuition. As a result of growing up in Costa Rica, Cuenca takes inspiration from her home by illustrating elements of the natural world into her pieces. Scroll through her Instagram feed for colorful fish composed from abstract shapes, painted puzzle pieces and portraiture.


Brittany Baum, @zolaartfactory

After scrolling through Instagram and stumbling across the work of different Black illustrators, Baum was inspired to share her own illustrations—leading her to create her own business, Zola Art Factory, in 2015. Through a blend of bold patterns, colors and stylish designs, Baum’s self-proclaimed Afrocentric urban art illustrations showcase an intersection of 21st century design and 90’s urban street fashion.


Nicole Nikolich, @lace_in_the_moon

In 2017, Nicole Nikolich discovered her passion for crocheting as an art outlet, and decided to bring her creations to the streets. From her first, simple flower yarnbomb tied to a fence in Fairmont to an upcoming collaborative street art series in September with The Sex Exchange—a Philadelphia-based community that was created to provide a safe space to openly discuss, explore, and celebrate sexuality—Nikolich has expanded her work to larger and brighter creations all over Philly.


Symone Salib, @symonesalibstudio

Using vibrant acrylics and portrait illustration, Symone Salib strives to create a space in which people are not only seen, but also heard. In March, Salib was involved in the #SisterlyLove Project, an outdoor mural exhibition in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Women’s History Month. As a Cuban-Egyptian artist, Salib was inspired by local chef Cristina Martinez and her activism for undocumented workers, and created a wheatpaste (a style involving a wheat flour and water paste, often used in Philly street art) of her for the exhibition. As a street artist and portrait painter, Salib uses her platform and vibrant style to highlight people’s lives—especially lives of color—and tell their stories in hopes to connect and resonate with those of different backgrounds.


Nile Livingston, @nilelivingston

Nile Livingston uses an array of media—from computer graphics to mural art—to make impressionable statements. Like Salib, Livingston was also involved in the #SisterlyLove Project, during which Livingston created powerful wheatpastes of significant and influential Black women in history from Philly like Jane Golden and Patti LaBelle. Through vibrant splashes of color and expressive, detailed artistry, Livingston aims to produce life-affirming statements that come from being awake and present in the world around you.


Aftyn Shah, @riseandwander

After experiencing brain injury from a car accident in 2013, Aftyn Shah’s doctors told her to get outside and focus on nature rather than try to be out in crowds. It was then that she discovered her love for nature and art as a form of creativity, which became linked in her artistic process. As a strong believer that nature has the power to soothe and connect everyone, Shah draws on inspiration from the time she spends outdoors with her sons to fuel her creativity, including places such as Schuylkill River and Fort Washington Park. From soft strokes of color in her paintings to detailed prints, Shah captures various components of the nature around her as a way for people to bring the Great Outdoors inside—inspiring a sense of curiosity and adventure.

Photography by: Courtesy of artists