A luminary is defined as someone who inspires or influences others. Here at The LAMP, we’ve decided to take some time out every month to highlight people who illuminate the world by challenging the arts and media spheres they navigate.
In honor of Women’s History Month I would like to shine a light on artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. The art series and PSA Stop Telling Women to Smile instantly stood out to me due to the bold and defined appearance of women as subjects. She has a way of placing women that have been culturally defined as soft onto harsh, wooden, concrete spaces shaping and conveying them in a different light. Through her work, Fazlalizadeh also initiates a conversation about street harassment, a polarizing practice which can victimize women, into a conversation piece that summons people to speak out and question a society that cultivates these interactions.
The massive size of her campaigns makes it very hard for us to ignore the numerous amount of cat-calling women go through everyday. Fazlalizadeh has stated that her project serves as a way “of speaking back to my harassers.” When discussing the spaces in which her portraits appear, she said, “I thought it was important to talk about street harassment where it actually happens and the environment instead of doing a painting…I decided to do something new, go outside and talk about street harassment there and speak up for myself and express myself and what I wanted to say about myself and where it happens.”
Part of our mission at The LAMP is to activate hands-on critical thinkers, and we want our students to question the messages being relayed to them everyday, just like Fazlalizadeh does through her campaigns. Most importantly, we want them to be active agents in changing the way these messages are communicated. We mostly do this in the form of critical remix or “breaking” media. In a recent program, students examined the importance of PSAs and social media campaigns. They were introduced to Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s work as well as other social media campaigns such as #SayHerName and #HisNameisCayden. The purpose was to get students to understand how these messages operate in different spaces and served as inspiration for their own image based-campaign.
Fazlalizadeh is representative of taking a stance against street harassment and giving a face to the women who experience it on a daily basis. She serves as a change agent and luminary figure, highlighting an issue most normalize. For that, we recognize her and can’t wait to see what she does next.