Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Knit Me Again

Knitted street art in NYC. Photo courtesy of Divine Harvester, via Flickr.

I hadn’t heard much lately about Knitta Please, so I was super stoked to hear the crew of ‘guerilla’ knitters that has been tagging up city light poles, signs, benches, and whatever else they can get their stitches on since 2005, is still at it. The group ‘of ladies of all ages, nationalities, and… gender,’ headed up by Magda Sayeg, who lives in Texas, will be covering 69 parking meter poles on Brooklyn’s Montague Street with bright, hand-knit sleeves on May 13, as part of a public art project commissioned by the Montague Street Business Improvement District. Knitta Please did a similar installation in Paris in 2007.

Gothamist has a great interview with Sayeg, who talks about this project, plus some of her favorite past creations–including throwing a knitted pair of sneakers over a power line, tagging the pedestal of an organ grinder in Mexico City, and covering an entire New York phone booth in stitches. ‘I like to stay connected to street culture, and what it inspires,’ she says.

Rock on, Magda.

If you’re a knitter in New York and would like to get involved with the Montague project, Knitta Please wants you! Call the Montague Street Business Improvement District at 718-522-3649 or visit the Web site. You can also get more info about the installation or Knitta Please and see more images of their work on their Web site or Facebook group.

(Note: I originally wrote this post for bust.com, where it appeared first. Yep, still multitasking...)

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Girl Project: Five Questions for Kate Engelbrecht

Photo courtesy The Girl Project.

New York-based photographer Kate Engelbrecht is on a mission to empower teenage girls through pictures. She started The Girl Project, a national collection of photos taken by American girls ages 13 to 17, in 2008. Each participant gets a disposable Kodak camera to capture self portraits and anything else that matters in her life. Then she sends it back to Engelbrecht, who is including the most compelling of those on The Girl Project Web site and in an upcoming book and a traveling exhibition scheduled kick off in 2010. Some of the results are heartbreaking, some are uplifting, and others are hilarious--but all the images are surprising and touching.

I recently chatted with Engelbrecht via email:

1. How did the idea for The Girl Project come about?
I became really curious about how much I "knew" about teenage girls regardless of the fact that I didn't know any and had not been one myself for a long time.

2. What was your goal for the project?
In the beginning I set out to explore whether or not if what I knew, or thought I knew, was true. Today its less about a question; it has become my own little mini mission to help share girls' perspectives of themselves. My goal is to compile the images in a high-end photography book as well as a traveling exhibition.

3. What are some of your most favorite/interesting photographs you have received so far?
Hmm... thats difficult to answer. There are so many images. The most interesting to me (in general terms) are those that reveal something really personal... where the girl completely goes for it emotionally and puts herself out there.

4. How many girls have participated so far?
Around 800. I hope to have 5,000 by the end.

5. What is the most surprising thing you have discovered doing this project?
For certain it is how innocent these girls are. They are so much more real than the world unconsciously leads us to believe.

Note: If you're a teenage girl who wants to participate in The Girl Project, sign up here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Graffiti Queens

Photo courtesy McCaig-Welles Gallery.

Women have always been an imperative part of the urban art scene, with legends like Claw Money and Fafi making their mark on cities around the world. And although the man is making it more and more difficult for artists of both sexes to put up their work in public places, these ladies have still found ways to stay relevant and continue creating compelling art. Claw Money has her eponymous, ultra cool fashion line , Fafi did a collaboration with MAC Cosmetics, designing some insanely awesome, drool-worthy makeup bags, and Swoon, one of my all time favorites (not technically a graffiti writer but the consummate street artist), has launched her Swimming Cities expeditions and is represented by Deitch Projects. One of the best things about all this is that these artists have managed to break into the commercial world without selling out.

I’m really excited that the art and fashion worlds are starting to recognize truly talented graffiti writers, especially women, so I’m super stoked for this upcoming exhibition at McCaig-Welles Gallery in Brooklyn. Queens Arrive: International All Female Graffiti Artists Exhibition runs April 10-May 3. Artists featured include Fafi, Claw Money, Klor, and a whole lot more. The works of Martha Cooper, who photographed NYC subway graffiti during its heyday in the 1970s and 80s, also will be part of the exhibition.

(Note: I originally wrote this post for bust.com, where it appeared first. What can I say? I gotta multitask these days!)