The Gulabi Gang

Today we bring you NY-natives and friends Danielle Mastrion and Lexi Bella. Their works tackle a variety of social issues with a focus on the empowerment of women and girls. Danielle and Lexi will be featured in the documentary Street Art Heroines (see HERE), and we were fortunate to speak with them:

How did you meet each other and what made you start working together?

Danielle: “Lexi and I met through Art Battles (live painting) a few years ago. We both painted at an all-female Art Battle called Femme Fatale. We continued to paint and show together in gallery shows, but we really became friends after a 2012 Art Battle in Paris.”

What do you bring to the collab and what does your collaborative partner bring that makes it work well?

Danielle: “We both listen to and respect each other’s opinions and ideas. One year, I brought the idea to the table; the next year, Lexi did, and vice versa. I trust her vision and she trusts mine. There’s no one else I would rather paint with because we have such similar visions.”
Lexi: “At this point, Danielle and I have worked together for a while so we just flow. We share similar ideas and visions for our work so when we come together and make something special it’s always an exciting and an easy process. I think we both bring friendship and love and no egos and that’s the root of what works.”

How do you feel your own work is affected when you collab with the other person?

Danielle: “I think the energy and the power of the piece is elevated when we work together. She challenges me to make the best work I can. Our energy and dedication to our work is already at 110%, so put us together and you get at least twice that!”
Lexi: “Collaborating with anyone makes me a better artist- but with Danielle we trust each other and know each other so well that I can push myself further than I normally would because I have a trusted confidant working with me I can bounce ideas off of.”

What is this particular mural about?

Danielle and Lexi: “We wanted to continue our theme of the last three years of international women’s rights. The Gulabi gang (from Hindi गुलाबी gulabī, “pink”) is a group of Indian women activists. The group first appeared in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and was founded by Sampat Pal Devi (the large portrait) as a response to widespread domestic abuse, gang rape, and other violence against women in India. The group has spread and since 2010, is active across North India both on the streets and in (local) politics.”