Remember Queen Latifah's women-are-queens, power anthem, "U.N.I.T.Y., where she told ladies everywhere, "you gotta let 'em know/you ain't a bitch or a 'ho"? Well, that same spirit and mindset unites the XX-chromosomed members of the New York-based art collective Younity.
Founded a year ago by Queens-bred graffiti writer, illustrator and graphic designer Toofly and visual artist Alice Mizrachi, Younity is more than just a loose affiliation or a stuffy organization where there are weekly meetings governed by Robert's Rules of Order — no, Younity is a grassroots movement made of fully autonomous participants who understand that, if women join forces as a united front, they can break down the sexist barriers within the art realm. Members of this inspiring collective include San Francisco-based photographer Amanda Lopez, South African photo journalist Alexia Webster, NYC-based painter Helene Ruiz, graffiti pioneer Lady Pink, Texas-based stencil artist Niz, Japanese graffiti artist Shiro, and many others. While each member has her very own distinctive aesthetic, they're all tied together by a love of urban culture.
How can you support these beautiful minds? Well, you can start by copping the Younity Collective's new book, Heart & Soul, which features artwork by 60 urban artists (including Martha Cooper, Swoon, Lady Pink, and many others).
Just check out the photos above for a sneak peek at some of the book's artwork. From the cover art (a photograph by Abeni Garrett titled "Portrait of A Black Sk8er Girl" to two of the inside pieces: "Flor" by Alice Mirachi, which (to me, at least!) looks like a portrait of an Andalucian woman in very traditional garb (a lace mantilla and a red rose adorning her hair) and "Rescue Me" by Toofly, a brooding and moody illustration of a beautiful woman who is clearly in a state of distress (perhaps it has a little something to do with the word "love," which is featured on her nameplate necklace). Both pieces have a raw energy and inviting mystique to them — and that's precisely what you should expect from these innovative artists who, in this book, promise to give us art that comes straight from the heart and soul.
If you live in the NYC area, roll out to celebrate the book launch and check out a dynamic exhibit of works this Friday, Oct. 17th at Alphabeta (70 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn NY). Some of the artists will be on hand, and you can even get an autographed copy of the book! The reception runs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Heart & Soul book, $19.50 ($50 for autographed copies). Copies of the book will be available at Friday's event and, later, at select retailers. Only 120 books are available in total. Visit TheYounity.com for more information.