Most art exhibits aim to expose visitors to completed work, but the new show at Downtown gallery/art mercado/community center El Chante: Casa de Cultura (804 Park SW) hopes to share the possibilities of a whole subculture. El Chante owner Bianca Encinias has partnered with Kirbieleya Platero, Monique Mochacha Sanderson Mata and Jeanette Rocha to summon artists from six states representing two coasts, at least four major cities and just one gender: the ladies. This is about celebrating the way women participate in street art culture.
Talking about the show, Encinias and Platero both emphasize female unity as a specific remedy to some negative male-dominated traditions in graffiti culture. Platero got into it at 14 and recalls coming up inside the elitism of the scene: “Women were competing against each other. We could never be as good as the males. If we weren’t doing the illegal stuff, it didn’t really count.” Platero admits she was drawn into that mentality, “the property destruction, the partying, drugs, sex, the cliques.” She has since found the positive aspects of creative expression in her art, and that’s what she sees as the show’s enduring message.
[Kirbieleya] Platero wants visitors to feel respect for and be inspired by the strong, talented, successful women on today’s graffiti scene. “Graffiti can be a good path for young women,” she says, “a safe, positive space.”
The all-woman, all-volunteer launch party opens a door to conversations about what the art means to these women, but also what women mean to the art. Activities include live painting (open to all, $10 materials fee), B-girl dance performances and a female DJ. Food trucks and other vendors will complete the scene. It's a street-life invitational, open for anyone who wants to play. The party gives context to the hung works, which extend that alley-cat energy to paper and canvas, connecting the art to otherwise anonymous artists.
On the wall, Monstrochika presents boldly rendered, apple-headed girls with huge almond eyes always looking just over your shoulder. In person, she’s the alter ego of Naomi Martinez, a degreed advertising and design pro who co-founded the all-woman Mujeres Mutantes crew and works on public art projects in her native Chicago. B-girl Mooxie, aka photographer Helen Montgomery, is a native of Antigua, trained in computer animation and mother to one adolescent son. Music headliner Xian Bass describes herself as “a performing arts educator specializing in youth outreach” ... but that won’t stop her from bringing down the house. Just like graffiti in the wild, the show is filled with these plural selves.
Reverberate Her Lines honors process and creative space as much as the resulting artistic expression. The thumping, hi-test outpourings of the energetic graffiti world—visual arts, music and dance—are regarded in tandem with environment. Platero wants visitors to feel respect for and be inspired by the strong, talented, successful women on today’s graffiti scene. “Graffiti can be a good path for young women,” she says, “a safe, positive space.” Encinias echoes the sentiment and points out that women may participate in graffiti culture differently from men because of early motherhood, motivation to stay in school and other responsibilities. The old-school exclusions are stripped away—El Chante is a safe haven for art and artist alike.