spoilersFrançoise Gilot, Whose Art Transcended Her Relationship With Picasso, Dies at 101,” the headline reads. Almost all of the headlines mention Picasso, front and center, in Gilot’s obituary.

She dumped him more than 70 years back. She was a brilliant artist in her own right. But even if neither were true, this man has no right to be in her headlines.

When Mme. Gilot was barely out of her teens, she made up her mind to spend her life painting. It was a promise she kept for 80 incredible years, resulting in more than 1,600 paintings and 3,600 works on paper. Her artwork turned heads and made people rethink their views. Yet despite her massive impact on the art world and a successful writing career, folks still can’t seem to look past “Picasso’s muse.”

This constant Picasso tag isn’t just wrong, it’s a slap in the face to Gilot’s amazing work. Hanging a “muse” label on her turns her into an afterthought in Picasso’s biography. It’s a snapshot of how society loves to define women by the men they’ve been with, eclipsing their achievements.

In ancient Greece, Muses were considered goddesses of literature, science, and arts. Fast forward a few centuries, and this idea’s been twisted into the old cliché that “behind every great man is a great woman”. Sure, it acknowledges women’s influence, but it buries their stories, tying their identities and accomplishments to the men they’ve inspired.

We need to shift from erasing women’s stories, especially those of women of color who also face racism and colonialist attitudes, to celebrating their individuality, regardless of who they’ve inspired.

Once I realized that Painting Celia would involve an artist-muse relationship, I determined to not only turn it on its head but also show how it might be done correctly. Fiction can be handy that way!

León’s artistic journey is greatly influenced by Celia, yet her pivotal role is obscured by his personal struggle. Her very existence seems to force him to face his insecurities and ambitions, pushing him to question what it really means to be an artist. But even though Celia’s influence is as clear as day, she’s consistently pushed into the background. León’s artistic struggle takes center stage, leaving her contribution in the shadows.

León is so worried that Celia’s growing influence will somehow pull him away from his own artistic journey that he starts to see her as a threat, instead of the inspiration she really is. Even when he finally admits that she’s his muse, he’s still all about his own perspective, his own struggles. He misses the point completely.

Celia, bless her, is willing to help León but never gives up her goal of finding her own passion. Each time she reaches for it, León throws a little fit. His idea of a muse is tied up in metaphors that say the muse’s identity is there to be used for the artist’s expression. He minimizes Celia’s efforts because he can’t see past his own art and ideas. He eventually overreaches and she pulls the plug on the whole relationship. Celia refuses to be relegated, and good for her.

I wanted Painting Celia to show why we need to move past these old structures. It’s about time we redefine what a muse really is, getting rid of the patriarchal norms and bringing in more balance and respect. I think Celia and León strike their balance in the end. I wonder if you will think so too.