WOMEN TAKE THE STREETS
Last week I went to a panel to see one of our artist's Paige Smith (aka A Common Name) speak in a panel at Maker City LA. Smith is one of the artists represented by my company, Art Unified, and she is also one of my favorite street artists right now. Her street series, Urban Geode, gives street art a refreshing twist: it's sculptural, three-dimensional, site-specific and participatory.
Like Smith's work, the Maker City LA panel, 'She Streets', was a breath of fresh air compared to the stuffy art events I've been attending lately. Maker City LA (better known as The Reef) is a really amazing artist colony in downtown, and it was the perfect environment to discuss the issue of the night: women in street art. The panelists - which included Paige, Anna Drum, Karen Sandoval and HiJinx PR - answered questions that addressed the myriad issues that come with being a woman in a male-dominated field. Are they ever treated differently by their male peers when painting? Do they ever find themselves in dangerous situations with territorial street artists or gangs? Do they feel the need to hide behind an androgynous brand to remove gender from their art?
All of their responses were smart, thoughtful and genuine. I was surprised (but pleased) to hear really positive answers to these probing questions. The artists responded that they never felt the need to hide their gender to promote their art; in fact, their male peers were pretty stoked to work with them and supportive of their endeavors. They found their talent overshadowed their gender which, they asserted, is how it should be, no matter what industry a man or woman is in.
While both street art and feminism are movements that strive to be inclusive and accessible, they can often get mired down in petty politics and messy syntax. The dialogue at 'She Streets', however, provided a refreshing perspective on street art, feminism, and the intersections of both that represent a step in a more progressive direction.
*Photos courtesy of Chris Alexakis