Pittsburgh women artists making HERstory

Join us in applauding some of Pittsburgh’s amazing local women artists. During our March artist networking event The Creative Hive, we invited everyone who shared space with us at Emerald City to share a local women artist who inspires them. Their choices include artists creating everything from ceramics and songwriting to literary activism and pinball machine upcycling.

Artistic photo of three Black women painted in gold posing like statues in front of a theatrical curtain
“Goddesses” by sarah huny young // Photo courtesy of sarah huny young

sarah huny young

Where to follow: Follow sarah huny young on Instagram 
Check out their website: Check out sarah huny young's photography website
sarah huny young is a queer visual artist based in Pittsburgh. Through their photography work, huny celebrates Black women and the LGBTQ+ community. According to her bio, huny’s work explores “how Black queer people experiencing intimacy, self-love, and tenderness is act of defiance.” This year, GLAD named huny one of its “LGBTQ+ Black Change-Makers You Should Know.” Outside of photography, huny DJs across the country and curates Pittsburgh’s queer nightlife through the Mostbeautifullest collective.

Sailor Dia/Mant¿s

Where to follow: Follow Mant¿s on Instagram
Check out their website: Check out Mant¿s' Linktree
Sailor Dia, also known as the poet Mant¿s, is a Pittsburgh-based multi-hyphenate artist. As a musician, Sailor Dia performs with lyrics and string instruments. As a poet, Mant¿s centers their work on the Black femme. In her recent 2021 book of poetry, The Rootwork Stretched, Mant¿s elevates experiences of Black femmes surviving in spiritually and physically violent environments.

Visual artwork showing a woman holding an umbrella. Silhouettes of two children are shown with her. Under the umbrella is a bright green scene. Outside of the umbrella is a muted forest of baren trees
"Take Shelter" by Ashley Cecil

Ashley Cecil

Where to follow: Follow Ashley Cecil on Instagram 
Check out their website: Check out Ashley Cecil's website 
Ashley Cecil is a Pittsburgh-based artist whose practice specializes in paintings and mixed-media works. According to her website, Cecil uses “flora, fauna, and feminine forms that draw connections between the natural world and its human inhabitants.” Cecil’s work has been featured nationally, including Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens, and, most recently, at the Albany Museum of Art, where she debuted her exhibition “Rupture,” a tongue-in-cheek feminist installation of piñatas.

Shannon Coleman

Learn more: Check out Shannon Coleman's profile on PGHA&M 
Shannon Coleman is a Pittsburgh-based ceramicist. Coleman is the co-president of the Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media and an active member of the PCA&M Ceramics Studio. Outside of the arts, Coleman is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Etta Cox

Learn more: Check out a WQED website with Etta Cox
Etta Cox is a Pittsburgh jazz legend. Over her illustrious career, she has been voted Pittsburgh's "Best Jazz Vocalist" and has performed with jazz legends including Ray Charles, Debbie Reynolds, and Danny Glover. Outside of her lifelong jazz career, Cox is a teacher at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School and recently returned to theater in a recent barebones’ production of Skeleton Crew.

Restore the Soul Anita Levels album cover featuring a black-and-white photo of a Black woman with short dark hair
Anita Levels “Restore the Soul” album

Anita Levels

Where to follow: Follow Anita Levels on Instagram 
Check out their website: Check out Anita Levels' Linktree
Anita Levels is a Pittsburgh-based vocal artist, songwriter, and producer. In all of her music, Levels shares the historical influences of Black American music on our global culture. Recently, Levels was Pittsburgh Youth Chorus’ 2022-2023 BIPOC Artist-in-Residence. Off of the stage, Levels explores all things spiritual and sensual on her podcast, Corn and Potatoes are Good for You.

Nikki Burfield

Where to follow: Follow Tilt Cycle on Instagram 
Check out their website: Check out Tilt Cycle's website
Nikki Burfield is a Pittsburgh-based artist who specializes in upcycling broken pinball machines into art. According to her website, Burfield’s work “evokes nostalgia and reminds you of a joyful past. Combining the old with the new, it directs your attention to long forgotten now slated for the landfill.” Burfield’s work has been featured all across Pittsburgh in fairs and solo exhibitions as well as two Netflix films.

Book cover for Silent Spring by Rachel Carson featuring a silhouette of a bird cut out of a leaf
"Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Learn more: Visit the Rachel Carson House in Springdale
Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a nationally renowned nature writer and marine biologist born in Springdale, just 20 minutes from Pittsburgh. Carson is best known for her 1962 book Silent Spring, which catalyzed an environmental movement across the United States against DDT and other pesticides. In 1980, Carson posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her literary environmental activism. And yes, that bridge you cross on the regular? It was named after her, too.

Lillian Rouse

Where to follow: Follow Divine Creation on Instagram
Lillian Rouse is a Pittsburgh-based performer and craftmaker. Rouse frequently creates and performs original verses on her Instagram page. Rouse is also launching her new company Divine Creation, a craft company that specializes in blankets.

Kelley Woodruff

Where to follow: Follow Kelley Woodruff on Instagram
Kelley Woodruff is a Pittsburgh-based singer. Woodruff frequently performs with Kingdom Light Ministries, where she highlights her spiritual identity. Last year, Woodruff performed in Black Nativity at the Charity Randall Theater.

Kendra Ross Hideous Want album cover featuring a blurry pastoral scene
Kendra Ross "Hideous Want" single

Dr. Kendra Ross

Where to follow: Follow Dr. Kendra Ross on Instagram 
Check out their website: Check out Dr. Kendra Ross' website 
Dr. Kendra Ross is a Pittsburgh-based musical artist, educator, entrepreneur, and executive. According to her website, Dr. Ross is “passionate about building community and cultivating greater equity through music, arts & culture, education, and technology.” Dr. Ross is the head of Social Impact at Duolingo as well as a co-founder of Act 3 Consulting Partners, a consulting group that explores the intersection between arts & culture, community, and technology. Dr. Ross’ musical project “This Womanist’s Work” features all-female songwriting, production, and performances and is set to debut this year from Dr. Ross’ label, Lola’s Child Music.

Mary Martin

Where to follow: Follow Mary Hakim Martin on Instagram 
Check out their website: Check out Mary Hakim Martin's website 
Mary Hakim Martin is a Pittsburgh-based artist who specializes in ceramics and collage. Martin’s ceramic work has been exhibited locally and nationally. Last year, Concept Art Gallery featured Martin’s work in Lines of Truth: Father to Daughter, where Martin and her father, J. Martin Bey displayed their ceramic work together. Martin is also a member of Womens of Visions Inc. and serves on Pittsburgh’s Board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Follow our Instagram to join us in continuing to celebrate Pittsburgh’s women artists and to share your favorites!


Artist Profile