In the last two years, mugshot-like posters featuring defiant women with captions that read “My name is not Baby,” “I am not your property,” and “My outfit is not an invitation” has erupted across American cities raising eyebrows, consciousness, solidarity and at times, aggressive—bordering on violent—reactions. What this all means is that, New York-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s Stop Telling Women to Smile public art project has not only made an impact, but has become a national educational and political campaign that has helped raise awareness around the complicated race, class and gender issues of sexual street harassment. Last month, I spoke with Tatyana over the phone about Stop Telling Women to Smile, what she has learned so far about the complexities of street harassment, and her future plans for the project. Check it!
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is a Brooklyn based oil painter/illustrator whose work focuses on portraiture and social/political themes. An Oklahoma City native, she exhibits her paintings in galleries nationally, while completing illustration commissions for magazines, films, and books.
Stop Telling Women To Smile (STWTS) is a public art project and exhibition that addresses gender based street harassment created by Brooklyn, NY based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. STWTS features hand-drawn portraits of women who have told their stories of harassment that are transformed into large-scale posters and wheat pasted on outdoor walls, placing the images and voices of women in public space. The project was designed to examine the affects of street harassment as experienced by women across the country, with city-specific renditions used as the vehicle through which the issues falling under the umbrella of street harassment can be presented in the communities where local women experience them.