Through The Lens of Madness: Francesca Stern Woodman

Illustration of Francesca Stern Woodman by Shannon Levin
Illustration of Francesca Stern Woodman by Shannon Levin

Francesca Stern Woodman
(1958–1981)

Francesca Stern Woodman, known for black-and-white photography of herself and female models, was fond of long exposure times, which allowed her to create haunting works of women with obscured or blurred faces. Many feel the distorted images in her work comment on the way women are erased from and overlooked in society. However, others see her photography as a representation of her struggles with mental health: Her feelings of inadequacy led her to commit suicide at the age of 22. Though most of Woodman’s work was first published when she was a student, after her death it was recognized as revolutionary. She had few opportunities to present her work during her short lifetime, but it has since been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including shows at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and the Guggenheim Museum.

 

Shannon Levin is an illustrator and designer living in St. Louis. She illustrates for projects that elevate the representation of individuals who don’t often get the credit they deserve, with the hope that they help educate and inspire her viewers. She loves to draw funky people doing funky things as well as bright colors and amorphous shapes. @great_sneeze

This feature originally appeared in the Madness issue. Read also about Literature’s Most Famous Madwoman or check out more Women in History.