Who ever thought that the fields Graffiti and Street Art were entirely male dominated fields will be blithely proven wrong after thumbing through this lushly photographed volume. As Nancy Macdonald reminds readers in her introduction, “Women have been part of this [graffiti] subculture since its inception.”

Subtitled “Street Art from Five Continents” Graffiti Women (Abrams, 2006) features the work of over 100 female graffiti and street artists from around the world. This book may once again prove Virginia Woolfe’s often quoted remark, “Anonymous was a woman.” Many artists featured avoid any reference to gender in their work or their name.

For example, while I was familiar with Thundercut’s transformed walk/don’t walk signs in New York City, I had no idea she was a woman until I picked up this book. Conversely, other artists address gender directly. Laurie/The Laboratory of Living Arts’ colorful stencil paintings that proclaim, “Woman! Know Your Enemy.”

Others, such as graffiti artist Femme 9, paint bold, bright portraits of strong women on public walls and train cars. Lest street art and graffiti be lumped together, the book is divided into two sections, the first featuring Graffiti, the next, Street Art.

It also features an introduction by Swoon, one of Brooklyn’s best known street artists, who sums up many of the featured artists feelings when she states, “I never want to make anything that could be pigeonholed as ‘women’s work…’” However, with their brightly colored letters, daring stencils, and intricate, installations on street corners and warehouses around the world, women Graffiti and Street Artists are a force to be reckoned with.

In addition, the volume serves to inspire younger and emerging women artists who dream of taking their work to the streets. With a full color, fold out cover and inner pages featuring collages of street art and graffiti, this book is a valuable source of reference that features some of the best contemporary Street and Graffiti artists, regardless of gender.

Eleanor Whitney is a writer and educator living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a Co-Editor of riffrag.org and blogs at killerfemme.blogspot.com 

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