The First Annual NYC Graffiti Women’s Festival at Bronxlandia
Written by Christine DeFazio
Photos by Ana Candelaria
On October 8, 2023, LadyKFever organized the first annual NYC Graffiti Women’s festival, hosted by Bronxlandia co-owner Majora Carter who also owns and operates the Boogie Down Grind in Hunts Point. LadyKFever created the festival, explaining to me that “the concept came from my ongoing projects: The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery and specifically Graffiti Herstory. I chose Bronxlandia as the location because four women including myself had already painted the exterior over the past year. Majora was included in the curating as it is her building.” Along with LadyKFever, these artists include Olga Correa, AIDA and NASA1.
Bronxlandia is housed in a Cass Gilbert designed French Renaissance style train station built between 1907 and 1909, which the Carters purchased from Amtrak in 2016. The exterior and interior are being preserved and restored with attention to historical authenticity whenever feasible. The graffiti and street art gives the building a Hip-Hop carnival fun-house vibe. The interior is heavy with art, including a large wood panel by Tats Cru and a huge unstretched canvas by Andre Trenier. The space is now used as an informal roller rink and for events.
Olga, LadyKFever, AIDA and NASA1 painted the Hunts Point Avenue walls last fall. The bright bold color grabs your attention as you enter Hunt’s Point with Bronxlandia painted in large blue letters. A door features one of Olga’s women holding the door open with a little metal sign that says “hello’’ inviting you to step inside. A South Bronx born graffiti artist working since the 1980’s, Olga is known for her self-portrait character with bold flowing lines and bright sassy lips. She painted a wall on nearby Boone Avenue this summer. Her goal is “to empower young ladies in a male dominated field to rise and achieve their goals without sacrificing their morals.”
Her goal is “to empower young ladies in a male dominated field to rise and achieve their goals without sacrificing their morals.”
The wall drips with LadyKFever’s lilies, while nearby a beautiful portrait of a blue woman. These paintings are similar to the ones found further North in the Bronx around the Bronx Botanical Garden. LadyKFever told me that botany runs in her blood as she learned one of her ancestors was a famous Canadian botanist. One of the most haunting watchers is painted in blue on a bodega building slated to come down, which she painted with Scratch. LadyK told me that these madres of the Bronx were inspired by a group of sculptures of women that she saw in Woodlawn cemetery who seemed as if they were watching over the Bronx. They represent and glorify the strong matriarchal history and culture of the Bronx communities.
AIDA’s pink elephant is next to NASA1’s piece featuring a fluorescent floral design inside a heart.
The festival featured Miki Mu, Lexibella, and Claw painting a huge wall on Sheridan Boulevard. If you peek around the corner you can see the freight trains below and the original windows of the station overlooking the freight train tracks.
Lexibella created a futuristic portrait similar to her sketch of a robot princess. “I created both references using the AI generative art tool Midjourney” (the app excels in creating surreal, fantasy, sci-fi images).
MikiMu elaborated on her design, “As for the rat I painted at Bronxladia: it was a “quick piece” to be honest. The rat is one of my main street characters. It’s a recurrent thing I paint although this time was the first time turning it into a female character. It has long eyelashes. It’s some sort of self portrait, I guess, it’s just a girl rat spray painting. I usually write words or quotes on the cyclist’s hat. This time it said BAKING SODA as if “I am not good, I am baking soda”. The message is always sarcastic or ironic. This time it is both.”
Around the corner on Garrison Avenue there is a wall painted by Tats Cru. Along with a piece by Marthalicia, the art now fills three of the four corners of the intersection with Tats Cru’s Hip Hop mural from this summer directly across on Garrison.
Alice Mizrachi painted a portrait of a woman with the word peace on a pull down gate. Alice’s activist ideology is weaved into her studio, public art and education practices. Alice says, “This mural serves as a powerful call to action for peace. Inspired by current events, it reflects my deep prayers and hopes for a world that embraces love, humanity, justice, and peace. The central figure in the mural represents the essence of all women who embody the qualities of motherhood, creativity, birthing, nurturing, and fluidity, much like the flowing water. By intentionally incorporating the feminine archetype, this artwork symbolizes the vital energy that we need in our world today.”
Artist Flô told me, “I was really happy to be surrounded with amazing and talented women. I felt so loved and welcomed that I wanted to express that through the heart form with bright colors and the flowers that are my traditional identity on the streets…My goal is to make whoever sees my work around the streets happy and give them a little break during the day.”
There were moments of stress and conflict throughout the day, which were resolved equitably and peaceful—Thanks to LadyKFever who I could barely catch all day! Chare Star remarked “The piece I finished is not the one I intended to paint at the festival. I was a few hours into working on a large scale piece when the owner of the building changed their mind and did not allow me to finish. This piece was supposed to represent the power and scale of women in graffiti without the need for “girlish” colors or accents. Too often it seems that women’s graffiti is only shown in a hot pink, bubbly, hearts and flowers kind of way. Which, there is absolutely nothing wrong with (pink is my favorite color!). The goal of this piece was to show women can write graffiti just as well as men. I wanted to create a bold and elaborate piece that showed off my skills as a writer. Unfortunately and fortunately, I didn’t get to execute that plan. When I was kicked off the wall, all the other spots had been claimed by other writers. Luckily, Flo, a writer from Brazil, was kind enough to allow me to share the gate she planned on painting. The gate was the wrong size, the wrong height and didn’t offer much leeway in terms of errors; however, Flo and I quickly worked together to come up with a plan and executed it. We shared paint, stories and laughs. In the end, we created a piece that I can be proud to say we did together. The definition of girl power! “
“We shared paint, stories and laughs. In the end, we created a piece that I can be proud to say we did together. The definition of girl power! “
Dolly Letters working on “We Belong”. The point is “I want to encourage more people to join the trades. As a nonbinary tradesperson I find it empowering to see women and non binary people working hard, using power tools, and building, so that is what I painted.”
The area is quickly becoming an arts district, as it’s a short walk from Hunt’s Point to Boone Avenue Walls which features many pieces by female writers. Around the corner is The Point with Tats Cru studio, ICP and Femflavor, a large wall painted by Shiro, Erotica, Scratch, Teresa, Barbara, Rachelle, Sharon, Adriels last year. Bronx Art Space is housed in a new location on Manida Street, where I will be curating a show featuring LadyKFever and Andre Trenier in October 2024. The NYC Graffiti Women’s Festival is slated to be a yearly event.