Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh recently launched her public art series "Stop Telling Women to Smile" in Atlanta.
Students and professors at Georgia State University invited the Brooklyn-based painter and illustrator to the southern state to post her street art addressing gender-based street harassment throughout the capital. Made viral through social media and a successful Kickstarter campaign, STWTS has already made stops in Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The series' posters feature portraits of young women of color wearing defiant, no-nonsense expressions. Underneath their faces read statements like, "Women Do Not Owe You Their Time or Conversation" or "My Outfit Is Not an Invitation."
Local artists helped the group paste the posters on storefronts, abandoned buildings, graffiti and street art sites and more.
“This is all about how women’s bodies are consumed and are considered public property for display, comment and consumption,” Fazlalizadeh told The New York Times.
“Women need to start talking about their daily moments because it’s the smaller stuff that affects the larger things, like rape, domestic violence, harassment in the workplace.”
Some anonymous locals were not so hospitable about the Brooklyn artist's work. Two days after Fazlalizadeh pasted her own self-portrait from the series at the popular street art site, Krog Street Tunnel, the poster was vandalized with a spray-painted smile over her face and the words "Force It" beneath.
The artist told The New York Times that while posters in other cities have also been defaced, many women have stopped her in the street to say thanks.
“I don’t mind being thrust into an activist role,” she said. “Art is very important for that...Visual art, especially, is right in your face. I like that."
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(Photo: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh via Instagram)