MRS - HEL
Leaf & Wood - Besides graffiti, what other artistic influences did you have growing up?
MRS - Growing up my interests in art were always varied and evolving. I loved to paint, I was super into ceramics as a kid. I always enjoyed working with my hands. My grandfather was a carpenter, my mom was a seamstress and my dad was pretty creative too so I think I was always surrounded by a variety of creative people. I dont think I registered the influence until much later though.
Photo - MRS
Leaf & Wood - What do you love about the Bronx?
MRS - I love how diverse the Bronx is. I love how easily I can go north or south. I always felt like I was surrounded by people who loved to be here and be from here.
Leaf & Wood -What first started your interest in graffiti?
MRS - My interests in graffiti started as it was basically the first art form I was introduced to outside my home. I was looking at graffiti before I was looking at paintings in museums. I think a lot of kids from the bronx experiment with graffiti at one point or another. We have so many “legendary” graffiti artist who live and work here. The act just stuck for me and I kept doing it because I found it fun and exiting.
Leaf & Wood - The graff community is pretty diverse, across economic and race, but it’s heavily dominant by men. Besides the actual physical risks involved, what do you think keeps girls from getting involved in graffiti as teens? Do you think ego or the need to “destroy shit” plays as much of a role in motivation for women as it does for men?
I think people do graffiti for a whole bunch of reasons. Just because I am a women who picked up a can when she was a young girl that doesn’t really give me the ability to speak for all women. I know I started because I thought it was fun. Graffiti gave me confidence in a way I never really had before. With that being said its also negatively effected my confidence in more ways than one. Pretty early on I met HEL crew and thats when I got sincerely involved in graffiti. I dont think it was because of a need to satisfy my ego as much as it was to find a sense of community and belonging and I found that with my homies in HEL
Where does your interest in textiles/fabrics come from?
I think my interests in fabrics and textiles grew pretty organically from my interest in art and collage. After learning how to silkscreen, I was doing a lot of silkscreen on paper, cutting things up and collaging them back together into different geometric patterns. One day I was visiting the women’s museum in DC and They had a quilting exhibition. I thought it was interesting that these amazing works of art were labeled as “craft.” I also saw a connection between my geometric paper collages and the soft textile quilts. I decided to try making a quilt. My first quilt was mostly a variety of my own
It’s clear you love patterns, geometry, color composition, especially in your fabric and canvas work. Where does this influence come from?
silkscreened images on fabric which was developed from a black book. I always loved to learn when it came to art techniques so I just kept experimenting with different way to manipulate fabric. I was really excited to mix graffiti and quilting. The idea of combining art that is often perceived as being masculine, graffiti, with art that is often perceived as being feminine, quilting is very exciting to me. I hope I continue to grow in that field.
My daughter is a fan of Power Puff Girls, Pikachu, Hello Kitty, why do you like to incorporate children’s tv cartoons into your work?
I like to incorporate cartoons like powderpuff girls, Pikachu, and hello kitty in my work because it is fun and it is cute. Graffiti culture doesn’t have to be stiff and serious. I like my work to be fun and accessible. It just makes me happy and nostalgic.
Myself, I’m not a supporter of law enforcement, the NYPD or the handling of policing in general in this country - can you speak on the “Cuties Against Cops” piece you did?
Cuties against cops piece was a fuck you to NYPD and all cops while also being adorable.