Since the dawn of Hip Hop graffiti writing on the streets of Philadelphia and New York City in the late 1960s, writers have anonymously inscribed their tag names on trains, buildings, and bridges. Passersby are left to imagine who the author might be, and, despite the artists’ anonymity, graffiti subculture is seen as a “boys club,” where the presence of the graffiti girl is almost unimaginable. In Graffiti Grrlz, Jessica Nydia Pabón-Colón interrupts this stereotype and introduces us to the world of women graffiti artists.
Drawing on the lives of over 100 women in 23 countries, Pabón-Colón argues that graffiti art is an unrecognized but crucial space for the performance of feminism. She demonstrates how it builds communities of artists, reconceptualizes the Hip Hop masculinity of these spaces, and rejects notions of “girl power.” Graffiti Grrlz also unpacks the digital side of Hip Hop graffiti subculture and considers how it widens the presence of the woman graffiti artist and broadens her networks, which leads to the formation of all-girl graffiti crews or the organization of all-girl painting sessions.
A rich and engaging look at women artists in a male-dominated subculture, Graffiti Grrlz reconsiders the intersections of feminism, hip hop, and youth performance and establishes graffiti art as a game that anyone can play.
Graffiti Grrlz will change the way we think about women’s involvement in Hip Hop culture and the way we think about feminist movements. Graffiti Grrlz gives us a part of the story we didn’t know we were waiting for and we didn’t know how much we needed. Powerful stuff, the prose takes shape like a fly graffiti backdrop and paints a picture that perfectly captures the work these women put in. Graffiti Grrlzis groundbreaking and game-changing scholarship that answers the question, where my grrlz at, with a powerful and provocative right here. This is a must read for anyone interested in Hip Hop Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies.
—Gwendolyn D. Pough, Author of Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere
Vibrant, complex, and totally engaging, Graffiti Grrlz recovers women’s presence in graffiti subcultures around the globe. In this ambitious and passionate book, Jessica Pabón-Colón amplifies the resistant and creative practices of women graffiti artists and masterfully highlights their important contributions to contemporary feminism. In doing so, she transforms and expands our ideas about the meaning of graffiti and of feminist political action.
—Jessica Taft, Author of Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas
The graffiti grrlz featured here know how to throw up fresh ways of re-imagining feminism, urban belonging, and world-making practices. Through bright ethnographic accounts of graffiti’s gendered politics and global reach, Pabón-Colón takes down assumed notions of hip-hop culture by passing the mic to a new generation of feminist graffiti artists engaged in writing and speaking on their own terms.
—Juana María Rodríguez, Author of Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings