Wheat Paste Alternative: Ladies Night Out

It’s too easy to say women have to struggle for the respect of their accomplishments. Despite many obstacles, the strong will always surface. Women increasingly influence today’s graffiti/street art scene, and they literally leave their mark in the public space. As this movement expands into different variations of "street art", StellaBella honor the females who make their voices heard.

As we know, the standard wheat paste is an easy & affordable liquid adhesive made from flour, sugar & water. Originally used for Papier-mâché, street artists find it to be the quickest way to get multiple images on the streets in a single night - with a bit more staying power than a sticker. While that trend continues, there are other solutions that achieve the same result. Riding the line between street installation & wheat pasting; female street artists Adine & Jilly Ballistic were both gracious enough to let me tag along to document 2 alternative ways to get up on the NYC streets & subways...

Originally from Madrid, Spain, Adine (@adine.fe) began by documenting street art 8 years ago. Her curiosity for public art and what the environment does to it over time was her focus; abandoned buildings, alleys with old graffiti and found objects. The decaying scenery became influential in what she wanted to express. Today she puts her photographic images onto the streets, but choses a heavier material than a piece of paper wheat paste would keep in tact. While photography is her tool of expression, found metal is her canvas installed with caulk. She explores oxidation, and how rust takes over, creating a new piece over time. In the public space, she shares her ideas on the corrosion of life. Her images are personal; friends and family, and also uses vintage family portraits handed down from her grandparents.

Adine chose her desired spot weeks before our night out of installing the piece, which she identifies on her commute to and from work. She wants her images to fit right into the scene; corresponding other artwork or adjacent to an existing architectural doorway. While I worried about my presence drawing more attention to her task at hand, I noticed the streets were empty and peacefully quiet on this January night. After a few beers, caulk gun in tow, Adine installed her piece on the already bombed-out door. As we walked away, I looked back through the rain. The eye watching seemed to have been there forever – despite the caulk not even dry yet!


Jilly Ballistic started out spraying excerpts of her own writing onto garbage waiting for pickup on the sidewalk; matching the literature to the objects found: a sofa, ceiling fan, busted stove. Creating installation pieces, she would do this in the middle of the day, and folks in the neighborhood would inquire. This sparked her addiction with public art and expression, a perspective to share with her city.

Shortly after, the subway became her canvas. For Jilly, it's the most inspirational place to work: the ads, platforms, architecture, and the rush of people, the train cars themselves. More so than the streets, the MTA is a highly recorded environment, and she has to work fast. Before deciding on her current brand, she experimented with various pastes and spray adhesives until she found the one that works with the surfaces down underground.

The most successful pieces are the ones that fit seamlessly with their surroundings. She wants you to do a double take wondering if what you're seeing is supposed to be there or not. She wants you to question if that was there the day before. The wit and humor in her pieces are necessary when dealing with a heavy topic.

I met up with Jilly on a Brooklyn subway platform, where she had scouted a clean surface beforehand. It was the smooth surface of the subway tile she was looking for, although seeking high visibility as well. An uneasiness of doing illegal installations in the station was completely lost on Jilly, as she confidently took up space on the platform to roll out her work, and get started. I tucked myself in a corner so I would unassumingly document her application. She had 2 pieces to install that night, and each had its special moments. With every temporary piece she places in our metro, I know she’s moved a lot of NYers!

It is a credit to all generations of women that today's female artists thrive in a still sometimes mysogynistic "boy's club" culture.  The streets of NYC embody the greatest writers and artists throughout the world, and many are women.  And also remember some artists use an alias, which often doesn't indicate gender.  There is no clear idea how many are out there - I want to thank these two strong artists for blazing a trail in their own voice, and having the confidence to show NYC who they are today.

Keep your head up, and see the beauty all around you!

La vita è bella,

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