In its early days, graffiti was seen as a nuisance. But over time, cities and the people in them have come to realize that art in public places - particularly murals - is something to embrace rather than condemn. It has the power to transform a city's visual landscape, inspire countless people daily, and offers a platform for artists to share their talent and vision with the masses. Enter POW! WOW! - an annual mural festival that started small in Hawaii seven years ago.
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and once a year, it becomes even more beautiful thanks to POW! WOW! During the week-long festival, artists from around the world transform the island’s visual landscape with stunning, larger-than-life pieces.
POW! WOW! continues to expand each year, and has been held in various locations around the world including in Taiwan, Long Beach, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Washington D.C., Guam, New Zealand, Germany and more. As the festival grows, so too does the number of fierce female talent who are making their mark in the art world, including the likes of Frankie Cihi, Audrey Kawasaki, Tatiana Suarez, Eli-Mac, Taimane Gardner and many more.
“I didn't realize until I got out there how few women are involved in the mural scene. When more women participate and see other women taking up the challenge, it's encouraging. You think, if they can do it, so can I. You have the chance to make it less intimidating for anyone else looking to jump in,” says artist Sarah Joncas, who brought her signature aesthetic to POW! WOW! Long Beach with a breathtaking mural of a woman amongst coral and fish.
“I had 5 days, house paint, and a 50' wall to finish, so I couldn't' translate my typical style onto the wall. I adopted imagery similar to my work and expressed it in a simpler form. Though I have a tendency to be dark and moody with my work, optimism seemed more considerate in this case. Mainly, I wanted to create something fun and colorful to brighten up the neighbourhood,” she says.
“At POW! WOW! the female artists are all just as supportive as the men - there’s no competition because we are all here for one thing, and that's art. A love of art is what brought us all together,” says Caroll Lynn van den Brom, aka Careaux, who made her POW! WOW! debut in Hawaii this year. The Amsterdam-based artist has made a name for herself on the scene for her immaculate taste in sneakers - she’s currently also the women’s designer for Filling Pieces - and for combining her love of streetwear with her passion for art.
“As an artist, don't be afraid to show what you have to offer,” she adds. “Believe me, when I was standing next to all these big names in Hawaii, I was thinking, ‘I will never be as good as them.’ But don't think like that - you're there for a reason, so take it and enjoy the moment.”
Careaux’s POW! WOW! piece, titled “Trust You to Dream,” is an abstract tribute to her cat, Lucky, that passed away. A work of beautiful chaos, it combines elements such as roses and clouds in neutral, blushed tones. She says that the piece “is complicated, but shows the love and feeling I have for what I do and what I am.”
Throughout history, women have been a constant source of inspiration in the world of art. Now, female artists are portraying this feminine energy better themselves - as seen at POW! WOW! where they continue to bring beauty and sensuality to the festival.
“I try to capture the delicate touch of a woman and her natural inclination to care for the world around her. My intention is to emulate a feminine spirit that is soft and sensual yet strong, confident and unbreakable. The female form embodies true beauty and a sinuous relationship to nature. I am constantly inspired not just by the female figure but more often the feminine energy it creates,” says Amanda Lynn, an LA-based mural artist, art director and conservator.
The piece Lynn created for POW! WOW! Antelope Valley was the first piece in her “Sacred Alchemy” series; a collection of works inspired by sacred geometry and its intertwining, intricate weaving in the alchemy of life. She says, “Public art is free to everyone. That is my favorite part, and it's what inspired me as a child. I was so drawn to the idea that someone could create art that anyone and everyone can engage with. It creates a conversation, a landmark, and a destination for many people.”
Needless to say, we can’t wait to see these talented women continue to bring color and life to cities around the world. To stay up to date with POW! WOW! head to powwowhawaii.com.
Photos by: POW! WOW!