Three Female Artists Who Defied the Odds

Inspiring stories of creative perseverance

Christopher P Jones
7 min readJun 12, 2024


Augusta Savage posing with her sculpture ‘Realization’ (c. 1938). Photograph by Andrew Herman. 26 × 21 cm. Image source Wikimedia Commons

Every creative act involves an element of discovery, a moving beyond yourself into something unexpected.

It also means taking a risk — at which point many of us can stumble. We weigh the cost against the benefit. We pause, procrastinate, think twice.

So how do you persist in your creativity when things get tough or doubt might hinder you? Here are three stellar artists who despite facing adversity, ensured that quitting was not an option…

Zinaida Serebryakova

At the Dressing-Table (self-portrait) (1909) by Zinaida Serebriakova. Oil on canvas. 75 × 65 cm. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia. Image source Wikimedia Commons

Before her life was turned upside down, Zinaida Serebriakova painted this light-filled self-portrait, titled At the Dressing-Table. Made in 1909 and replete with signs of bourgeois femininity, it became her first artistic success and was purchased for the Tretyakov Gallery collection in Moscow.

Serebriakova (née Lansere) was a Russian painter who grew up in the tumult of the early decades of the 20th century and face a set of challenges particular to her time.