I’m Totally Watching this Documentary About Badass Women in Street Art

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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.”

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Miss 163.

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.”

Legs

Legs.

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.

Official Trailer | STREET HEROINES A Film By Alexandra Henry from Alexandra Henry on Vimeo.

 

 

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Girls Can Do Street Art, Too

Talking about women and art might be a worn subject by now or you might say this is a post oozing with feminism, but it’s interesting to note that most of the time the first names that pop up when talking about street art are those of men. At least that’s what I’ve noticed from talking to people who are only slightly interested in street art and those who are a tad bit more obsessed with the phenomenon.

But that doesn’t mean there AREN’T any women artists out there. Since decades ago, there have been women also going behind the police’s back to post their art. I imagine putting on the same dark outfit, pulling on a hoodie and getting to work.

Back when plenty of guys were posting their art on New York subway trains, Ecuadorian artist Lady Pink decided to join in on the fun. She became such an important figure in street art of the late 70s/early 80s; she was even featured in Wild Style, a much-revered film from 1983 that also features legendary graffiti figures like Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and you’ve got artists like Swoon, who I mentioned in an earlier post and who was in the Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit “Art in the Streets” this past summer. The women’s styles and mediums are completely different – decades after the New York subway train graffiti movement, street art has evolved and it has done so thanks to the help of a few innovative minds, including women artists.

Another artist with her own quirky style is Becca, a street artist who started out in the late ’80s. I found this piece while on a quest to find other pieces.

She was an important street artist in Los Angeles in the ’90s when the street art movement hadn’t really taken off yet. And like any good street artist, she’s got a style that makes her pieces easy to recognize. They’re usually vintage-style figures that remind me of old-school Barbies. She also signs all her pieces with the same lower case b and the same crayon-esque look. Her work has been everywhere from Beverly Hills to Downtown Los Angeles.

All street art pieces have names/signatures near them but if you walk around enough, at least some of the pieces you see are by women, too. Thus, the street/graffiti art is not just for guys. Girls can have their fun, too.

I agree with something Becca told The Dirt Floor in an interview last year and I think it sums up nicely how art, and by inclusion street and graffiti art, is universal.

The question was “Why should people care about art?” to which Becca responded: “Because art can be mind blowing and strengthen your heart.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Sound off in the comments about Becca, women and street art and anything in between!