Studio Visit with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh in Bushwick, Brooklyn
On a sunny and gorgeous Monday in mid-May I paid a visit to Tatyana Falalizadeh's pristine Bushwick studio. Fazlalizadeh, an Oklahoma native now based in Brooklyn, is an illustrator, painter and muralist, and is most known for her public art project 'Stop Telling Women to Smile' a street art series she started back in 2012, focusing on gender-based street harassment. #STWTS stems from the artist's personal experiences with verbal misogyny encountered on the street, and she sought out other women's stories to amplify this important conversation. Through guerrilla-style tactics, the wheatpaste posters of women and their meaningful words against being sexually objectified have gone global - New York City, Paris, Mexico City, etc
What I love most about Fazlalizadeh's work is its intersectionality, the diverse range of black and brown women - Muslim, Latinx, Asian - and QTPOC folks that are represented in her stunning oil paintings. Regardless of your background, there is no way you can walk away from Fazlalizadeh's without feeling connected, every woman is represented. Using monochromatic, jewel-toned backgrounds, you simply focus on the subject and their subtle emotionality, her simple and straightforward portraits carry heavy meanings.
Recent commissions have included the 2015 and 2016 editions of Coney Art Walls , celebrity portraits for BET's Black Girls Rock, as well as her creative partnership with Spike Lee. Her work appeared in his 2014 film, 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus' and she is art consulting on his latest Netflix series 'She's Gotta Have It' (based on his debut film). Her previous solo exhibit at BRIC, 'Not Going Anywhere', were compelling black and white hallway drawings where she called upon fellow artists and activists for answers about today's dark America.
For her current project, #WhenWomenDisrupt, a street art activism project confronting ideas around race, gender, and sexuality, Fazlalizdeh along with Melinda James and Jessica Sabogal are traveling throughout the American Southwest. Together the three of them are installing powerful posters tackling these issues head on in pro-Trump states.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CIDNEY HUE