8 Feminist Public Art Projects You’ll Want To Make The Trip For
Say you're trying to figure out where to vacation this summer — how do you choose? Maybe you want the beach, maybe you want a foodie city, or maybe you want to see a lot of feminist public art. Whether it's work celebrating important women in history or created by female artists to fight sexism and misogyny — or both — many cities around the globe have art in spaces open to the public. While museums are awesome, sometime we just want to go for a wander and catch something free in the open air.
Street art of all forms is diverse and constantly changing. Whether it's a formal sculpture or installation or a here-today gone-tomorrow poster or graffiti series, cities and urban landscapes are often the site of exciting new art movements and ideas. For every artwork you weren't able to see — like the installation of Zoe Leonard's famous "I Want A President" poem on the NYC High Line, which only ran until late 2017 — there are new ones popping up all over the world. If you're planning a trip, it's worth investigating what's been installed recently, whether there are any places where new pieces pop up, and what neighborhoods might be fun to wander to catch a glimpse of a cheeky bit of graffiti on a high wall.
1. London, England
London's just unveiled a new piece of art in Parliament Square: a bronze statue of suffragette Millicent Fawcett, one of the leaders of the British campaign for votes for women, carrying a banner that says "Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere." It made headlines for being the first statue of a woman in the male-dominated Square, but there are other statues of feminist heroes around London to visit, notably one for nurse and First World War hero Edith Cavell in St Martin's Place, which has been standing since 1920.
2. New York, New York
New York is a beacon for feminist public art project. From the graffiti collective at Bushwick Point that prominently features feminist artists, to Candy Chang's participatory artwork at the Rubin Museum of Art, where everybody can write their hopes and anxieties for the future, NYC is a brilliant place to get your feminist art fix. And if you want to get out of the city, there are installations aplenty, from Maya Lin's open air sculpture using hills at Storm King Art Center to the sculpture of Sybil Ludington, Civil War hero, in Carmel. Get your road trip on.
3. Valencia, Spain
Valencia, Spain, is the playground of one of the world's most prominent female street artists, Julieta XLF, otherwise known as Julia Silla. She makes colorful murals on the side of Valencia's buildings inspired by organic forms, mythological figures and sleeping girls. Many are ephemeral and fade quickly, so there's a strong chance that one visit to the city will reveal a different series of art from another. It'll reward your wanderings.
4. Brisbane, Australia
Ever hear of suffragist and activist campaigner Emma Miller? She was crucially important to the fight for women's rights in Australia, leading protests for women's right to vote and equal pay for equal work in the late 1800s and early 20th century. In the city of Brisbane there's a statue of her demanding her rights, with a collective of other statues of prominent activists in Australian history. And the city's got other treasures to reward a public art aficionado with a feminist bent, including public installations by famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and prominent Australian Helen Pynor.
5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is one of the most exciting street artists working in the U.S. today, and her work, which involves sketches and interviews with women posted onto public walls, is found worldwide. One of her most prominent works of art is found in Oklahoma City, where after the 2016 election she created "America Is Black," a mural a story high that commemorates the diversity of American identity and American women specifically. Oklahoma City also has a lot of other public art by women on its streets to savor, including a piece by solar power artist DeeDee Morrison.
6. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Everywhere you look in Buenos Aires there are beautiful pieces of street art installed by the "wall sisters," or Hermanas Paredes. They're centered around political themes, protesting against domestic violence, street harassment, body positivity, and the right to protest. They've become one of the world's most prominent muralist collectives, and you can trace their work with specifically constructed tours.
7. Paris, France
Paris is the city of love, but it's also a great place to see feminist art — an entire brilliant exhibition was devoted to it at the city's Mint this year. And the streets are no different. Niki de Saint Phalle's sculpture park beside the Pompidou Center celebrates the female form, while countless graffiti artists and poster-makers adorn the city's streets and Metro stations with new creations basically every night; one, Princess Hijab, drew hijabs on women in ads all over town for several years.
8. Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg has some pretty iconic public artwork. One of the most famous is "Democracy Is Dialogue", a statue that depicts a female protestor holding a Molotov cocktail, a pose the artist has said is a reference to the traditional image of Liberty holding a torch. It's a commemoration of the activism of women in South Africa's struggles against apartheid, but it's far from the only feminist piece of public art in the city. Another depicts Albertina Sisulu, known as the Mother of The Nation for her human rights work, and her husband Walter. And the streets of Johannesburg are one of the best places to see the work of internationally acclaimed street artist Faith XLVII, whose murals alone are worth the trip.