STWTS is a traveling public art series that places portraits of women on outdoor walls to address gender based street harassment.
Stop Telling Women to Smile is a public art series that addresses gender based street harassment. The work consists of drawn portraits of women who have told their stories of harassment, and wheat pasting those portraits as posters with captions that speak directly to offenders on outdoor walls.
I started this project as a way to explore social activism through public art. I wanted to express myself and address the type of harassment that I was personally experiencing in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. As a portrait artist I wanted to use the images of women, personal friends and colleagues of mine, to humanize women in the public spaces - giving faces and voices to the bodies that are sexualized on the street.
The process behind creating this work begins by sitting down with a woman and discussing her experiences with street harassment. I then draw her portrait and design a poster using text that is inspired by her story.
I now want to travel to create new work on this topic in different cities across the country. Following the same process, I'll meet and talk with women who live in different regions, cities, and neighborhoods across the country about their experiences with street harassment. I'll photograph them, draw their portraits, and use those portraits in new posters that I'll install in the woman's own city.
Doing this will allow me to learn about the ways street harassment is acted out and reacted to around the country. What happens in Bed-Stuy will differ from what happens in Oakland, or Kansas City. It's important for me to learn about these differences and create work that will resonate better within a particular community. What do women who live in cities where public transportation is mostly used experience as opposed to women who live in cities where everyone drives? What's the slang? What do queer and trans women experience? What street corners are hot-spots for harassment in a particular city? What type of harassment specifically happens on those corners?
And most importantly, what do the women who experience street harassment around the country want to say back to the harassers in these posters?
So, with your help, I'll be traveling to 6-8 cities to create new pieces while there. With the help of sites like Hollaback and StopStreetHarassment.org, I'll participate in community events around the project while in certain cities.
Tentative cities include:
The success of the project will also affect taking this work to international cities. If I raise $2500 over the goal we will take the work to an international city in Spring of 2014. If I raise $5000 over the goal, we will take the project to 2-3 international cities. Potential international cities include Amsterdam and Berlin.
I also want to document this! A portion of the funds will be allocated to working with a filmmaker to film the project.
Since opening up the project for participation, people across the globe are now able to order prints to paste in their cities. Funding from this Kickstarter will also contribute to the size and amount of posters I'm able to ship out.
The goal for this Kickstarter is $15,000 which will fund:
- Travel Expenses - Flights to 6-8 US cities, food, lodging, local transportation.
- Rewards - Costs of producing the rewards, packaging, and shipping
- Materials- Costs of printing the posters, brushes, rollers, etc.
- Documentation- Flights for filmmaker, equipment, travel expenses, etc.
- Participation Costs - Costs of producing and distributing posters
I'd like to say thank you to all who have supported the project so far, and for the big response to this work. I've had women from across the globe email me their thanks along with their stories of harassment. I don’t think I’ve created any art before that people were so passionate about - that they related to so strongly. It's amazing, and terrifying, and motivating. I'm excited to take it further.
Live Stream of Sit-Down Discussions on SH
While on the road, I will be meeting with women and having group discussions about their experiences with street harassment. You'll be invited to stream the discussion and engage in the conversation by having your thoughts and questions addressed during the stream.
- STWTS canvas tote bags, 14"x14"x3"
- "Stop Telling Women to Smile" Tee, men's and women's XS-XXL. "Is Not My Name" Tee, women's XS-XXL.
- 12x18" signed "Stop Telling Women to Smile", "Women Do Not Owe You Their Time Or Conversation", "Women Are Not Outside..." or "My Name Is Not Baby...". Printed on 100lb Gloss Cover
- 8.5x11" graphite portrait of one of the original women featured in the series, signed and matted.
Wheat Paste Posters
- A pack of 5 of the original posters to be wheat pasted in your neighborhood.
Skype Session With The Artist
- Skype with me while I'm on the road to talk about the project and hear behind the scenes details.
Original Wheat Pasted Wood Panels
- Original poster designs wheat pasted on wood panel and signed. From the "Stop Telling Women to Smile" exhibition at Fresthetic in Brooklyn, NY in April 2012.
Original STWTS Oil Painting
- Original oil painting on wood panel from the STWTS series. Four paintings based off the original poster designs: "Stop Telling Women to Smile", "My Name Is Not Baby", "Women Are Not Seeking Your Validation", "Women Do Not Owe You Their Time Or Conversation". First come first serve basis. Below is the STWTS painting.
Custom Portrait Oil Painting- For this reward I will paint your portrait, or the portrait of any one you choose. The painting will be around 30x30 inches, on canvas or wood panel - your choice. We will discuss the details of the painting.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Installing art outdoors always has a few challenges, a big one being weather. There's a risk of rain or bad weather that could setback installing the posters while I'm in a city.
Any setbacks that occur due to weather, travel, etc. will only push back the dates of installation. I currently plan to complete all cities in the US before mid-December but, some dates might be pushed back.
Yes! The current poster I'm working on is in Spanish.
One goal of traveling with this work is not only to learn about the harassment that happens to different women in different areas but, to make work that effectively speaks for them. And that includes having them in varying languages.
The success of this Kickstarter is wonderful but also a little unexpected. I'm discussing possible projects, and ways to expand the work with colleagues of mine now that there is extra funding.
The first and obvious idea for the money is to travel to more cities. I can now go abroad to recreate the project in other countries. I'm planning to do this in the spring.
There is also scale. I'd like to make the wheat paste installations a lot larger. Having more money allows for more material and more time that installing large scale wheat pastes takes. The most important part of this, however, is finding wall space. This takes finding and working with building owners to allow use of their space. That takes some time and planning.
There is also distribution. I will be working with Hollaback, who has site leaders in cities across the globe, to distribute posters in their cities. To print these posters in bulk, there is now the possibility of buying printing equipment.
As things continue to develop, I will be as detailed as I can about my plans for the extra funding that has come.