Street art has long been a male-dominated field. Graffiti artists, mural painters and public artists thrive on pushing boundaries and defying expectations, but when women still struggle to be taken seriously by galleries and museums, there is little room for women to push boundaries. As street art has gained attention in popular culture, women have recently been able to step into the spotlight for the first time in street art.
In advance of International Women’s Day 2021, here are some recently created pieces of street art painted by women, featuring female heroes.
Street Art Our Heroes by Claudia La Bianca
Inspired by a love of superheroes, graffiti artist Claudia La Bianca created this mural in honor of healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The mural features women doctors and nurses, dressed in scrubs and PPE, stylized as superheroes. La Bianca told the Miami New Times that she believes, “there's a hero inside all of us, that any of us can be an everyday hero.” She created the piece to let doctors and nurses know that they are heroes and that their hard work is appreciated. La Bianca drew national attention in 2018 with her piece United in Love featuring Melania Trump and Michelle Obama embracing in front of a stylized American flag. The majority of her work features strong, confident women as subjects.
Street Art Maya Angelou Mural Festival
The city of Los Angeles recently dedicated the Dr. Maya Angelou Community Highschool by hosting a festival of international and local artists to create murals in honor of the feminist icon. Talented women artists joined the festival to celebrate the student’s work as well as Angelou’s legacy.
Faith XLVII, or Faith47, is a South African artist and human rights advocate who has created moving murals around the world speaking out for women’s rights. Faith47’s mural for the mural festival incorporated a quote by Maya Angelou, reading, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” Victoria Cassinova, an LA-based fine artist, created her first mural for the project, featuring a student inspired by Angelou. Ni Santas, an all-women aerosol and community art collective, also contributed mural pieces to the festival.
Around the World Street Art
For International Women’s Day 2020, street artists from around the world created murals with the hashtag #eachforequal, as part of the 2020 Women’s Day campaign for equal pay. Australian artists Laura Jackson and Shima chose feminist leader and equal pay icon Jacinda Ardern to paint in support of the International Women’s Day campaign. Ardern is the country’s youngest prime minister, and one of the strongest female leaders today.
Street Art in Ward 8, Washington DC by Mia DuVall
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned a series of murals for DC last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Muralist Mia DuVall created a section of the murals depicting women of color fighting for women’s right to vote.
DuVall’s mural features Mary McLeod Bethune and Fannie Barrier Williams, who faced great backlash to pursue suffrage for all women, regardless of race. Also featured are two younger women, who represent the continued fight for equality, respect and opportunity. One wears Chucks, the shoe favored by Vice President Kamala Harris and the other wears a shirt evoking Sojourner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech.
Other murals in the series were designed and created by Candice Taylor, and Cita 'MISS CHELOVE' Sadeli.