By popular demand of Anth of Hip-Hop students:
Interview with Lady Pink in 1998
By Melisa Riviere
Lady Pink is Ecuadorian by birth, raised in Queens, New York. She is one of the most respected female muralists as well as one of the first female graffiti writers to attain international fame. Currently she is co-owner of PinkSmith Designs with her husband with works ranging from street corners, museums, and art galleries to nightclubs. Lady Pink began her artistic career by producing illegal murals on the New York City subways in the late 1970’s, an underground career that blossomed in the hip-hop pop cult art movement of the 1980’s. Lady Pink appeared as the only featured female artistic in the 1982 Fashion Moda show in New York City that was the first, and at the time, the only graffiti art style exhibition. Her canvasses today are featured in collections such as those of the Whitney Museum the MET, and The Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Groningen Museum of Holland. Lady Pink’s integration into the graffiti art culture, her role as a muralist, and her romance with fellow graffiti writer at the time, Lee Quiñonez, became the model for the film ”Wild Style” in which she played a starring role. Her work has illustrated the union between graffiti, its legal representation of aerosol art and the commercial aspects of gallery exhibition.
A friend and colleague made the connection for me, and the thought that I might get to interview Lady Pink personally was my sole motivation to go to New York City. All contact seemed abstract and covert. I arrived to New York and touched base receiving only abstract directions to take the R line into Queens with a phone number to call once I arrived at the designated station’s payphone. I followed through receiving a second set of street names and numbers. As I walked I contemplated where I was going to meet her. Was I walking to a coffee shop, a house, an apartment, or a wall? What I would say, how might I approach my page and a half of notes, and which questions seemed most important if she seemed rushed and needed to “wrap up.” I rolled through my head how many women she has provoked to just do art, regardless of where, how, or whether the canvas had permission. After all she was my own source of inspiration. I thought of all the boy graffiti writers that must have had a crush on her, and how many of their muses she must have ignited.
When I arrived I found a small white house in front of me, Lady Pink opened the door with a little dog in her arms, a cup of coffee in her hand, and a Kool cigarette between her lips. It was that day in August of 1998 that I recorded this interview with her – in which both graff girl Mickey from Amsterdam and Pink’s husband Smith briefly appear – an interview that aims to go far beyond the walls and photographs in telling her story.
-Melisa Riviere, 1998