Breaking the Barriers

About “Breaking the Barriers: Women Who Have Impacted the Arts”

A special exhibition about famous Women Artists showcased at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History was held on March 20 through 25th featuring original paintings by Augusta artist Rhian Swain. The exhibit was also displayed at the Augusta City Gallery from May 30th through August 30th. The exhibit includes 13 portraits of female visual artists who have made an impact on the arts throughout history, as well as locally.

Breaking the Barriers will be available for educational exhibitions for the next few years.  Because of this, none of the paintings will be available for purchase until after it comes off tour.

Ask a school child to name some famous artists and most can probably name Van Gogh, Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci, perhaps Banksy; and one or two might even mention Frida Kahlo or Georgia O’Keeffe. When adults and children are queried about “famous” artists, women artists do not typically come to mind.  Yet women have been amazing artists, as talented and groundbreaking as their male counterparts.


“Breaking the Barriers” is a series of paintings that shine a light on some of the women who have made remarkable achievements in the visual arts. Like Louise Bourgeois, who is recognized as one of the most important artists of the 20th Century and is best known for her enormous spider sculptures and installations. Sculptor Augusta Savage was one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Berthe Morisot, a French Impressionist, who was the only woman invited to show in the very first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. The iconic Dot Queen Yayoi Kusama, who in her 90’s, continues to astound the world with her Pop art. Those are just a few of the many faces that will be encountered at the exhibition. Two local women, Lillie Morris and Staci Swider, who have received national recognition for their art, will also be featured.

All of the children who visited the exhibit at the Laney Museum received a coloring book about the women artists created from drawing by Rhian.  The coloring book was funded entirely through a grant received from the NEA.


The show was well received by the community and has subsequently become a touring exhibit. It is booked for March 2024 at the Laney Museum.  Two new paintings will be added to the collection.