| Sandra Fabara, now known as Lady Pink/Smith, is titled to be the first female graffiti artist and has made it possible for other female artists to be accepted by males in the art form.|
| 1 Childhood|
| 2 Proving Herself|
| 3 Becoming an Artist|
| 4 Being a Rebel|
| 5 Career Takeoff|
| 6 Today|
Sandra Fabara was born in 1964 in Ambato, Ecuador, but at age 7 her mother left her father, and moved to Queens, New York, where she raised her daughters. Sandra was accepted into Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design in 1979 where she attended school for her teenage years. At age 15, her boyfriend at the time was the person who introduced her to graffiti, but it was her school that really helped her learn the art.
While other kids turned to drugs and crime, Sandra turned to art. She was told by the boys that she couldn’t paint on subways and the big stuff because she was a girl, which made her more determined to prove herself. She didn’t appear to them as tough enough, partly because of what she wore and that she was only a 5’2’’ and about 100 pounds. She dressed like a girl with lots of make up and high heels. After plenty of hard work, she finally convinced them that she was actually serious about being an artist. They then let her come with them one night to test her if she was good enough, where she had to prove that she could carry her own bag, climb fences, have guts, paint her own work and prove that she wasn’t just a kid with paint. Passing her “test,” she could now paint with more dignity.
Becoming an Artist______________________________
After just scribbling her names on walls, she became more elaborate and began showing her real artistic skills. During the day she was an art student, but at night she was an artist. She painted in the dark tunnels and “bombed” (painting many surfaces) train yards, and by 1980 she painted her first whole subway train. She was the only girl that could compete with the boys’ painting abilities, but had to continue to prove that she could keep up as a girl. Trying to show that girls could do anything boys could do, she was a huge feminist during the time.
At age 15, she renamed herself as Lady Pink in order to stand out in the big city. She stated that the rush of seeing your name painted on a moving train was indescribable. As “Lady Pink” showed up on more walls throughout New York City, small village girl, Sandra Fabara quickly faded away.
Being a Rebel____________________________________
During the middle of the 80’s, the mayor of New York and the Mass Transit Authority announced that subways that had been painted on were going to be cleaned off and felonies would be charged to writers that were caught by police. Pink continued to go out and paint even though the stakes were high. Rebelling against the system was a way for Pink to search for attention and a chance to show off her talents. “It takes determination, talent and a lot of guts. I’ve been chased by police, wild dogs, workmen, and harassed by other groups of graffiti writers. I used to dress up as a boy for protection, terrified of being grabbed in a tunnel and gang raped. That made me run harder, write faster.”
It didn’t take too long for people to notice that she had real talent. She was discovered by an alternative art gallery in South Bronx and invited to show at Fashion Moda which was one of the first galleries to show off the new art phase of graffiti. Pink was the only woman doing what she was doing; her murals became more graphic and mature, as she became more popular, attending high-society parties and showing in more galleries.
Pink married Roger Smith in 1994; they became the first married “bombing” partners. She is now also known as Pink Smith, taking her husbands last name. Her paintings are known all over the world (selling for about $8,000 a piece), and are in important art galleries like the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the Groningen Museum of Holland. Now 46, she continues to paint and mature with her art. She also now has a small mural company that she owns with her husband. They donate free murals to the public as a way of “giving back” to the community, as well as organizing productions with other graffiti artists to bring awareness to communities. In the Northeast, she also has mural workshops with kids and college students where she shares her 20 years of experience.
Throughout the years, women have made a great impact on the perspectives of American society. They progressed from being seen as only a housewife and servant, to people with equal capabilities as men. As you know, women didn’t gain equal rights over night, but had to strive and prove themselves to be worthy of men’s acceptance. Many women helped with the movement, and some gained more fame for their presence, while others, like Lady Pink, are sometimes just looked over by most people.
Even with many gained rights during the 1960’s, in the 70’s, women (and Barbie) were still trying to prove themselves and show that they could do anything a man could do. In this time period, and even still today, graffiti writing was a male dominate activity. Without even knowing it, just Lady Pink’s presence made an impact in the feminist movement by itself. By being the only female in a great male controlled scene gave her instant celebrity status. When told that she couldn’t keep up with the boys or paint as well as them made her push even harder to prove them wrong and never let them walk all over her. Soon enough, she earned her respect because she stayed brave and courageous. Not only did this affect the graffiti writers of New York, but it also showed many women of the time period that if a 15 year old girl could stand with the boys, then any of the could. “The fact that we are women, and we’re painting, and our stuff is all over says that not only can we compete in a man’s world, but we can beat them at their own game.”
Pink taught the females of America the lesson that if you stay strong and worked hard, you’ll gain respect. As she said, “it’s difficult for a woman to be involved with Graffiti. There is an attitude that women are too weak and also a liability, or the attitude that they just can’t do it. As a woman in Graffit you might as well throw your reputation in the dirt. Everyone thinks you sleep around with the guys. I needed to hold my head up and prove that I could do it for other women.” This also became evidence to the men that women were serious about what they wanted, and were going to achieve it no matter what, like them reversing the roles so women would go to work while men stayed home with the house and children.
“Lady Pink” written on trains in big, bold, and bright colors was also another sign to women. Her name flying by on passing trains was a message to all the women that “they could be seen and heard in a cultural and physical landscape carved out by men. And they could do so boldly, bravely, and powerfully.”
Pink’s tenacious actions were not only an inspiration story for ladies of the 80’s, but remains a story for young woman today, too. As well as being a role model for women, she also helped the society of graffiti change. People have been writing on walls since the creation of humans, expressing themselves through their paintings. Even after the era of the hippies, the kids were still rebellious and graffiti was their best ways of expressing themselves, going against the system and getting attention. After Lady Pink grew out of this teenage phase of just writing anything for anything, her paintings became more mature and illustrated her views of violence, but staying on her feminist aspect. She paints through a woman’s point of view and shows her outlook against abortion, gay-bashing, and treatment of women. Her pieces speak for many women for the reason that men often paint and use women as an object for their own pleasure, but her art displays the hurtfulness and wrongness of it all, although much television and music entertainment now days portrays it as being an almost okay thing to do.
In addition to all that Pink does, she also is on a mission to treat the vandalism aspect of graffiti. This is important with today’s society because of the up rise of gang and random graffiti on signs and other public property. She teaches and inspires kids to use their talents with the spray can in proper ways, and gives them a large area to paint on, which she didn’t have when she was young, and caused her to vandalize trains and subways. “Giving back to the kids, and the community, is why I’m still writing. In a sense, it’s why I’ve always written.” Lady Pink is a large person of the time as she motivated and continues to inspire people and show everyone that not all graffiti is vandalism, but some are real works of art.
Paybarah, Azi. "Turning Graffiti Into A Positive Art." Queens Tribune [Queens County]
10 June 1999: 1-3. Queens Tribune Online. Web. 24 May 2010.
Meacham, Andrew. "Graffiti artist 'Iz the Wiz' left his mark on NYC." St. Petersburg
Times [Tampa Bay] 9 July 2009: 1-3. Print.
Delana. "Colorful Art Writers: 10 of the Best Graffiti Artists | Design + Ideas on WU."
WebUrbanist | Alternative Art, Dynamic Design, Visual Culture & More. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 26 May 2010. <http://weburbanist.com/2009/09/17/colorful-art-writers-10-of-the-best-graffiti-artists/>.
"Feminist Art Base: Lady Pink." Brooklyn Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2010.
Smith, Pink. "BIO PAGE." Pink Smith. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2010.
Siegel, Fern. "Lady Pink: Graffiti with a Feminist Intent." Ms Magazine Mar. - Apr.
1993: 66-68. Ms Magazine. Web. 24 May 2010.
| || |