(The Root) — Street harassment is always a hot topic on Twitter, likely because it happens to so many women so often. On the way to work, out for a jog at the park, headed home from church — often, when a man decides he wants to speak to a woman, he will approach, sometimes in ways that are annoying at best and intimidating at worst.
There are many groups, like Hollaback, dedicated to eradicating the trials of walking down the street for women. Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh has found another way to fight back, a striking art project entitled Stop Telling Women to Smile. The project has peppered the streets of New York with portraits of women above bold, direct statements proclaiming a woman's right to be left alone: "Women do not owe you their time or conversation"; "Women are not outside for your entertainment"; "Women are not seeking your validation."
The installment spread like wildfire online via sites like Twitter and Tumblr; its visibility won Fazlalizadeh and her project coverage on the Daily Beast, Colorlines and For Harriet. Now she's turning to the Internet to help take her project nationwide.
"I now want to travel to create new work on this topic in different cities across the country," writes Fazlalizadeh on her Kickstarter page. She aims to interview women from different cities, draw their portraits and create new pieces that she will install in those locations. "Doing this will allow me to learn about the ways street harassment is acted out and reacted to around the country," she says. "What happens in Bed-Stuy will differ from what happens in Oakland or Kansas City."
Fazlalizadeh's project gives both a voice and a face to women who are often drowned out and ignored when decrying street harassment. In making the issue visual, this project has the potential to spark some very necessary conversations about street harassment nationwide. If its past online popularity is any indication, Fazlalizadeh should hit her mark and then some.
Read more at Kickstarter.
Tracy Clayton is a writer, humorist and blogger from Louisville, Ky.