The graffiti jams empowering female artists to get their bread

Grassroots group WOM Collective support female artists, local communities and charities through their graffiti jams, exhibitions and workshops across London.

The group believes that these activities increase people’s confidence and enable them to access new opportunities, build strong networks, and pursue career pathways that are creatively and financially fulfilling.

The collective was founded in 2019 by Elena González, Carleen De Sözer, Raquel Natalicchio and Lours after hosting an all-female graffiti jam in Allen Gardens near Brick Lane and receiving feedback from attendees about the struggles of working as a woman in the creative sector.

Co-founder Elena González, 34, said: “There are a lot of female street artists out there who love to paint, but people still seem surprised when they see a group of women graffitiing, so we decided to change that and the vision for women in art – we are not in competition with one another, we are a sisterhood and we can empower each other.”

ELENA GONZÁLEZ: “As artists we have a responsibility to share creativity” – photo credit Jagoda Kotlarz

WOM Collective organises monthly graffiti jams where artists can network, bring colour to London’s walls, and shine their creativity onto stark urban environments.

They are hosting their next graffiti jam on Sunday 18th April at Stockwell Hall of Fame and Stockwell Lane for female artists of all ages.

Ensuring artists earn a living from their craft in a notoriously competitive and undervalued industry has always been central to the group’s philosophy.

González said: “I would love to share my experiences of some difficult situations that I have been in through my art so I can help others to not be in that situation.

“For example, being approached by brands who have big budgets but want you to work for them for free.

“Challenging this expectation is also the responsibility of the artist because art is work, it’s a craft and there are years involved in learning those skills so you need to believe that there’s value in that.”

PAINTING THE TOWN: WOM Collective brings art out of the galleries and into London’s streets – photo credit xxpseudoxx

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a paradox for the creative sector, as the art and entertainment many are relying on to get them through the crisis continues to lose millions in revenue from closed venues and institutions.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Ernesto Ottone stated at the start of the pandemic that whilst governments must address the immediate danger of COVID-19, measures also need to be instated to support artists and access to culture in the short and long-term.

Despite these challenges, González is optimistic.

She said: “I think art is not going to stop. It’s in our nature and even in the hardest times it will find a way to speak and communicate strong emotions.

“We need unity more than ever now, and I think that art and creativity will come out of this difficult time strong because we are beings that are not meant to be alone and art connects us.”

Featured image credit: Dicyli Photography @dicyli @D_I_C_Y_L_I

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