LADY PINK: GRAFFITI HERstory
Miami’s Museum of Graffiti presents Lady Pink: Graffiti HERstory, with a virtual opening today at 6 pm. There will also be a private, in-person members-only "First Look," tomorrow at 10 am, on view through May 20th, 2021.
Black Venus | Lady Pink (2020)
In the 1970s, Lady Pink had the confidence and audacity to prove that Graffiti wasn’t just a “boys club.” By assimilating herself into the community, she changed the game, broke down barriers, and was a teenage feminist. At the time, she didn’t even know she was a feminist because Lady Pink said, she was just standing up for herself and doing her thing. Pink, originally from Ecuador, came to America with her family at the age of 7 and settled in Queens, NY. As an immigrant and minority, she feels she was welcomed into the male-dominated culture of Graffiti because its members were also predominantly minorities. As a brave and bold Latina, she fit right in and was seen as an equal amongst her peers.
Lady Pink on Train | Photo by Martha Cooper (1982)
Her career started in 1979 when she tagged her ex-boyfriend’s name on walls after he was sent to live in Puerto Rico. She was first given the name Pink by Seen TC5 and she wanted other writers to know she was a female. Lady Pink liked the femininity of the color and the aesthetically pleasing look of the letters, P-I-N-K. She added the "Lady," because of her love of royalty, the Victorian period and romances novels. The First Lady of Graffiti painted subway trains until the mid-1980s and became a cult figure thanks to her starring role in Charlie Ahearn's “Wild Style." The movie, an important moment in Graffiti's history, showed how interconnected music, dance, and art were/are and how they all contributed to the birth of hip-hop.
Sisters Oh Sisters | Lady Pink (2019)
While still in high school she was socializing with the likes of Basquiat, Haring, and Warhol and exhibiting in art galleries. Her first was GAS (Graffiti Art Success for America), getting to show with the best of the best, Lee, Crash, Daze, Futura, John Fekner, Zephyr and more at Fashion Moda in the Bronx, curated by John "Crash" Matos and at 21 she had her first solo show. Lady Pink's canvas work can be found in important collections at the Whitney Museum, The Met, the Brooklyn Museum, MOMA, and the Tate Modern in London. Her first painting that sold was of a lavender orchid that was compared to Georgia O’Keefe. Ever since then, Lady Pink has been putting out consistently brilliant art for 40+ years.
Along with producing works on canvas that express her unique personal vision, she runs a mural company with her husband and artist Smith. Lady Pink produces ambitious walls commissioned for businesses around NYC. She encourages artists to donate public art in culturally neglected communities, gives mural workshops to kids, and actively lectures at colleges throughout the Northeast.
Lady Pink's mural work | Photos by (@joannapbethpdot)
2016, 2020 Welling Court Mural Project, Queens
2018 at Ngozy Art Collective, Bronx
At the Museum of Graffiti in Miami, Lady Pink: Graffiti HERstory is presented in two rooms that explore subjects very important to Pink. The first room celebrates the heroes of the underground Graffiti art movement through intimate paintings and digital prints based on photographs and memories of 1980s New York City. The paintings are history lessons and pay homage, remembering some of those pioneers who are no longer with us. The series includes portraits of her teachers, icons, and fellow artists: Dondi White, Crash, Lee, Daze, Caine One, Seen, Doze Green, and many others. Those who have made the most impact on Lady Pink’s life.
The Gentleman | Lady Pink (2021)
Lady Pink states, “People are always asking did someone teach you? In the Graffiti world, teaching happens from master to apprentice. Sometimes it’s someone your very own age who knows a little more. When I was starting, Seen TC5, who is only one week older than me knew so much more... He knew how to get into the subway, he knew the train yards… Graffiti is not a self-taught thing, it is a group effort.”
In the second room, Lady Pink presents large-scale paintings portraying her feminist ideology. Ancient historical figures and themes are reinterpreted for today’s audiences as seen in the work Black Venus (2020) that features the Venus of Willendorf (25,000 BCE) reimagined as a voluptuous Black woman, covered in colorfully, stylistic tattoos. She's holding a torch à la Lady Liberty and wearing a pink “pussy hat” made popular during the 2017 Women’s March in Washington DC. In Activism is Never Done (2008), she addresses the challenges women face in society including inequities in pay, teen pregnancy, incarceration, poverty, and exclusion from the art world by painting graphic images of women shackled, behind bars, and pregnant rising out of a cavernous inferno. Political messages of protest are found often in public spaces, but Pink continues to spread these messages through her studio work as well.
She has always focused her career on activism and empowering women, using Graffiti and murals as “acts of rebellion and self-expression”. Pink's art activism was highlighted when she joined forces with influential, feminist artist Jenny Holzer and the two continue to exhibit their collaborative work today. An iconic photo by Lisa Kahane features Lady Pink wearing one of Jenny Holzer's Truism t-shirts while walking through Times Square in 1983. The Truisms presented different points of view, as art, and they first appeared as wheat-pasted posters around Lower Manhattan. Jenny Holzer hoped that people would see her Truisms and re-evaluate the ideas they were being exposed to in their daily lives. These powerful statements are still relevant today, as this image went viral in 2017 during the height of the #MeToo movement and was seen as a battle cry for the cause.
What Pink is most proud of is being a role model and inspiration to young women and empowering them around the world to blaze their own trails. When she can pass on her skills and watch young people do things they weren't even aware they were capable of, like painting huge murals, that is most gratifying to her.
Lady Pink cherishes her friendships with other muralists, like Blu, Mickey, Faith 47, Nina, and Shiro. They come from different countries, but bond over being groundbreaking women in the world of art. We want to give credit to the forward-thinking pioneers who had no problem accepting a female into their crew, but "her"story will prove us right. Graffiti definitely is not just a boys club and we can thank Lady Pink for rewriting that narrative. Through hard work and determination Lady Pink has established herself not only as a great female artist, but a great artist period.
Graffiti HERstory | Lady Pink (2020)
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ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF GRAFFITI
Located in Miami’s Wynwood District, the Museum of Graffiti is a leading contemporary art museum dedicated to sharing the power of expression, sparking wonder, and inspiring creativity for and about the Graffiti art movement. At the Museum of Graffiti, visitors can explore the history of Graffiti in an experiential setting with interactive exhibitions and unique shows. The Museum seeks to honor and preserve the unique art form and to exhibit important works for permanent viewing. Through changing exhibitions and programs, the Museum aims to introduce visitors to the artists, paintings, photos, sculptures, works on paper, and designs that have captivated youth and adults for over fifty years, as well as the environment in which the global art movement formed.
The Museum of Graffiti is open to the public with safety-first procedures, including an admission system that only allows for six people to enter the premises every 15 minutes. Guests must purchase tickets in advance online or from their mobile devices as they approach the Museum to avoid onsite transactions.
Tickets: General Admission tickets are $16; Children 13 and under are free. Tickets are available online and include access to all museum exhibitions. To purchase tickets visit our website from your desktop at home or your mobile device, museumofgraffiti.com
Hours: The Museum of Graffiti is open from 11 AM – 6 PM weekdays and 11AM– 7PM on weekends. Please check www.museumofgraffiti.com for special holidays, extended hours, and unexpected closings.
The Museum will offer a 360-degree virtual online gallery of the exhibition via their website www.museumofgraffiti.com
Follow the Museum of Graffiti on Instagram @museumofgraffiti For additional press information and images or to schedule a press tour contact Cece Feinberg, Cece Feinberg Public Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org
Artwork images provided by Cece Feinberg, Public Relations.
TC5 in the Yard | Lady Pink (2020)