Anarkia. Photos courtesy of Alexandra Henry.
Fangirling about street art is a lot like fangirling about anything else: you have this idea about what an artist will be like in real life. You imagine their personalities and stories based on what pieces you’ve seen. You feel like you know them after seeing their murals in multiple cities or gazing at photos of their work online and in books.
So I’m naturally fangirling over an upcoming documentary called “Street Heroines,” directed, shot and produced by Alexandra Henry. The film features so many great artists — Gilf!, Lady Pink, Elle — and the super important and iconic photographer Martha Cooper.
In speaking with these powerhouses, Henry also brings to light the challenges of being a female street artist but also what makes the female street artist community so strong and important.
“I decided to focus on women because I realized that not much literature or film existed on what they were bringing to the urban environment,” Henry wrote in an email. “After my first encounter on the street with female artists, it dawned on my that I had never considered women to be part of the culture. Just always thought of it as male-centric, like many other things. So I wanted to create more awareness on what they were doing, because personally I could identify with the beauty and messaging going on in their work.”
Henry traveled everywhere from New York to Paris to Brazil, discovering artists by word of mouth or through exploring the streets. This makes for a rich variety of artists, both in terms of aesthetic style and personal backgrounds.
“Street Heroines is comprised of women from many countries, especially in North & South America. Brazilian, American, Mexican, Japanese, Chilean, French, Puerto Rican, Argentine, Chilean, etc.,” wrote Henry. “The community is pretty tight, so once I met Miss 1.6.3. from the Bronx in New York in 2012, she told me about other artists and also informed me about an all female street art festival called Nosotras Estamos en La Calle in Lima, Peru.”
Henry sees the project as a way of “preserving culture” for the next generation and helping viewers look at their surroundings in a different way.
“I have had countless friends and strangers, men and women alike, tell me stories of a beautiful piece of art in the street that they noticed after hearing about my project,” wrote Henry. “They even send me photos or tell me when they’ve met some one doing graffiti or street art. The fact that this project is starting conversations on issues like domestic violence, sexual harassment, economic disparity and climate issues, among others, is very important for us as a society to find solutions.”
Check out the trailer below and support the documentary’s Kickstarter campaign here.