She began as a graffiti artist, stealthily spray painting her work on New York City’s walls. Today, Elle Street Art’s pieces hang in the world’s top galleries and museums. And, now, in Hudson Yards’ Public Square and Gardens. In her collages of females, flora and fauna, she juxtaposes classical paintings with pop culture and high fashion to deliver messages of solidarity and hope. Conceiving her new mural - the first outdoor piece for HYxOffTheWall 2.0—she knew exactly what she wanted to convey in this challenging time: “The future is bright, life is beautiful and when we come together we can do great things.” She also has thoughts about what it means to be painting now, and what she wants passersby to take away from her latest work.
On selling hope through her images:
The figures in this piece are all looking forward. They’re optimistic. One figure represents a mother and child, reaching toward the sky together. They’re looking to a brighter future.
On the collective power of women:
Typically, when I create a collage it’s with the goal of portraying women in a strong way. The imagery isn’t meant to represent any single woman, but rather all of them, because women are most powerful together. That said, my work isn’t only about all women coming together; it’s about what comes together in all women: creation, life, beauty.
On painting at Hudson Yards:
What an amazing place to get to paint my mural—right under Vessel, a place people love. When I started to make street art in New York City, it was all illegal, so the pieces were pretty tiny. It’s amazing to be invited to paint something that is 2,000 square feet. I’m stoked to be part of this project and community, and to be able to celebrate the melting-pot life of the city.
On the power of public art:
I see it as an opportunity to sneak a message to people who are just walking by. Many of those people wouldn’t necessarily walk into a gallery or might not know much about art. Hopefully, though, they find beauty in my work.
On her process:
I create each piece as I imagine a poet creates poetry. The work is a little abstract at first but over time I mold it into a coherent story. I’m inspired by colors and diversity, beauty and life. I source imagery from Pinterest, Old Master paintings, National Geographic, lots of different places, then collage them in Photoshop. I might make 20 different sketches before working the pile down, until I get to the one piece that really flows.
On staying creative in a pandemic:
There has been so much stress and fear. We all need a creative outlet, somewhere to rechannel our feelings in a more positive way. I started “Corona Creates” and kept it up through quarantine, to keep myself making art and to inspire others to do the same. It both played a huge role in helping me deal and in creating the sketch for this piece.
On the new “normal”:
This piece is meant to instill passion and hope and peace in people who see it, to help them stop worrying and start using their energy in more constructive and creative ways. And Hudson Yards seems the perfect place for my work, a place to reconnect with our creativity as we re-open our lives and the economy. Art is integral to all that, so I’m really honored to be a part of it.
Get to know the other artists of HYxOffTheWall.