Three years ago Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh started a mural project to bring attention to the street harassment of women. The series, “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” features the stoic faces of those who’ve felt uncomfortable and unsafe while walking their city’s streets. The latest addition to the series, commissioned by Columbia College, includes the faces of local women peering out over the corner of Eighth and Wabash.
“It happens everywhere,” Fazlalizadeh says of catcalling and other forms of verbal harassment toward women. “When I first started traveling with [“Stop Telling Women to Smile”], I thought I would find a lot of differences, but I really didn’t.”
“Stop Telling Women to Smile” has sponsored murals in cities from Mexico City to Paris. In each place Fazlalizadeh speaks with women in the community, sketches their faces, and turns those drawings into wheat-paste images bearing phrases like “Women are not outside for your entertainment” and “My name is not baby, shorty, sexy, sweetheart, honey, pretty, boo, sweetheart, ma.”
“Hopefully women will see it and feel a sense of solidarity,” Fazlalizadeh says of the Chicago mural, “and hopefully men and others will see it and consider their behavior.”
While in town Fazlalizadeh also collaborated with artist Amanda Williams on “Harriet’s Refuge: A Safe Passage for Free Movement in Public Space,” an exhibit at Columbia’s Glass Curtain Gallery (1104 S. Wabash) running through November 14 that examines how women of color experience urban public space.