Indian Visual Artist Re-Imagines Historical Goddess Figures As Modern Feminist Women


We are firm believers that you can’t have political and social change without activism, as it has often been the seed for revolution throughout history. Even today, there are numerous artists, musicians, and creative people who have disrupted mainstream conversations with their work.

We have featured a number of artists on our site who are using their creativity and talent to change conversations around femininity, beauty, and gender equality. Art has the ability to share powerful messages in a non-threatening way that other industries may not be able to and can also introduce new ideas to a movement like feminism.

Take for instance 17 year old Indian artist Priyanka Paul, whose Instagram account @artwhoring is unapologetically feminist as f*** and we love how she is mixing the traditional with the modern to give a unique twist to feminist art. In her “Goddesses” series she has re-imagined a series of historical and mythical figures from a number of different cultures and given them a modern maker.

According to a post on her Instagram account, the inspiration for the series came from a poem called ‘Pantheon’ by Harnidh Kaur which describes ancient goddesses as modern women and what they would be doing today:


“I want eve to walk into a church naked, Snapchatting her strut to Kali, Who responds with her own tipsy stagger into a temple, Clothes from last night hanging off her in crumpled ribbon-strings, Tongue stuck out with two fingers held up under in the sign of peace (or is it one of triumphant victory?), The antics of the evening enshrined into digital immortality on Amaterasu’s Instagram page, hashtagged with #FreeTheNipple, A cheeky homage, echoed in Hera’s Facebook share of yet another post from a feminist page, liked by Isis, who engages the the absolute scum in pointless debate, demanding positivity, she struggles to claim, But still proclaims her body as a shrine that she’s worshipped in,
And as the ridicule pours in, The Goddesses stand tall, and unashamed, Laughing in the face of aghast disciples,
As they reclaim

The mass media student from St. Xavier’s college in Mumbai told how the themes of sexuality and femininity are challenged and explored in her images.

“The poem talks about modern day feminists and their social media activity and mainly talks about sexual liberation. The poem talks about how female sexuality has always been a hushed up topic across cultures. Our goddesses have always been epitomes of feminine divinity and power, hence why not depict them as epitomes of feminist liberation?” she said.

She also shared why she is passionate about using her creative medium to advocate for voices who are not always represented in mainstream conversations.


“What is the point of of art if it does not portray social problems and encourages reform. I want to speak for the margins the lost teenagers, the ones who’ve faced oppression, the ones who’ve been taught that their pain is not worth being validated,” she explained.

Like we often describe about art being a non-threatening vehicle to share important messages, Priyanka also believes art is a perfect medium to talk about feminism.

“It can be used as a medium of awareness and activism. It’s important that you utilise art and poetry to talk about issues like feminism. Art is active human emotion in play, which is why when human problems are portrayed through art you reach a wider audience and garner a greater understanding of society and it’s interaction with art. While drawing, it’s important that you take into consideration all perspectives and make sure the message you’re trying to impart is prominent,” she said.

Living in a mostly-conservative society like India (where there is a growing movement advocating for feminism, gender equality and the end to gender-based violence and discrimination) she has faced backlash for daring to portray iconic and sacred Indian goddesses in provocative imagery, which is part of why she named her account “artwhoring”.


“I think it’s of relevance to me and my feminism, because more than often words like ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ are used to address women who choose to dress ‘promiscuously’ or have sex as much as and as openly as men do. And like Albus Dumbledore said, ‘The fear of a name, increases the fear of a thing itself.’ Hence, I use the word whore, because fierce, bold, and non-conforming women rightly need to be feared,” she said, immediately endearing herself to us even more with that clever use of a ‘Harry Potter’ quote!

Priyanka says she wants her art to be part of the movement challenging the social conditioning and “normalization of oppression across different sections of society.” She wants her work to inspire others to know they can bring about revolutionary change in the world even through the smallest acts.

“My message to young feminist artists like myself would be, feminism is a revolutionary movement, it isn’t supposed to be liked and you won’t always get people appreciating your work and ideology because that’s how the world is, but you are bringing about change and spreading awareness and inspiring other individuals and YOU SLAY, so keep doing what you do and never give up,” she said.

If you are looking for some unique and bold feminist art to help you SLAY, check out more goddesses on Priyanka’s Instagram account where you can also find a link to purchase her art.


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