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Graffiti Women
by Nicholas Ganz
Abrams (2006)
Graffiti Women
The hefty, full-color Graffiti Women is a companion to the equally lavish Graffiti World. This could be taken in two ways: rather like an insult (why not include all these women in the non-gender identified Graffiti World?) or as a testament to the prolific women's street art scene (there's so many awesome ladies wielding cans and wheat paste they can't fit into a general book). I choose to go with the latter sentiment as gender specificity means more pages devoted to less well-known artists. After all, there are only a handful of female graffiti 'stars,' artists like Lady Pink, Swoon, Miss Van and Fafi who have received attention on the level of male writers like Barry McGee and Zephyr, and certainly none of these women have been given the crossover treatment of Basquiat, arguably the most famous artist to come out of the modern graffiti scene.

Graffiti Women, while offering bios and 'where are they now' style updates, is mainly eye candy: page after page of stunning photographs. The first half of the book is dedicated to aerosol queens and the spray-painted burners and pieces that the scene was built on. The second half covers the contemporary, broad street art movement, in which artists utilize all manner of tools from paintbrushes, stencils, delicately cut paper, tiles, stickers, and even organic matter, as in the case of English artist Becky Drayson, who uses sand, grass and flower petals to spell out her poetic fragments. The book includes a diversity of styles, from angular, technical lettering; classic Wild Style tags; cartoonish characters; realistic portraiture; and boldly-colored abstract shapes. After being wowed by the breadth and range of women's styles, it is the scope of the book that most impresses. Though dominated by American and European writers, graffiti's far-flung appeal is highlighted by artists from nations like China, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil. Graffiti Women goes far in promoting its subjects, arguably the most marginalized practioners of what remains an oft-illicit, risky outsider passion. Still, let's hope it spawns equally splendid treatments of individual female artists as a few pages a piece aren't nearly enough.

this review originally appeared in Girlistic
Posted by: R. Baker

Print Reviews (May 1st, 2007)


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