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Artist Lady Pink transforms NYC with murals about academic burnout

The mural located in Astoria, Queens is one in four featured of the #WayOutOfBurnout initiative with Edubirdie. The mural can be found at 22-71 33rd St. in Astoria, Queens. COURTESY OF NADYA MOVCHAN.

In the bustling streets of New York City, where towering buildings and busy sidewalks dominate the landscape, a graffiti-based artist is making waves with her captivating artwork. Lady Pink aims to bring art that ventures beyond the confines of elitist galleries and touches the hearts of communities, all while spreading a positive message.  

“Through these murals, I want to inspire the younger generation; to do that, I bring the art outside [the galleries],” Lady Pink said in an interview with The Statesman. “They aren’t the top 1% where they have the time and means to go to galleries. It’s time for art to come to them.”

Lady Pink was born in Ecuador and raised in New York City. She began creating graffiti and became one of the only women in the graffiti subculture during the 1980s. Since then, Lady Pink has been a prominent artist featured in galleries and the talent behind many street murals. 

Her most recent project, #WayOutOfBurnout, featured four different murals in the greater New York metropolitan area — Bushwick, Astoria, Kingston and Poughkeepsie. 

The project was in collaboration with EduBirdie to spread awareness about the growing prevalence of academic burnout. EduBirdie is an academic aid platform that offers ghostwriting, plagiarism checking and essay writing services. Adults of Generation Z report significantly higher stress levels than other generations, and according to a 2021 health assessment conducted by the American College Health Association, nearly 76% of college students documented moderate or severe psychological distress.

“The murals open a conversation about how college burnout is not something uncommon — it happens to everyone — and that you aren’t alone,” Lady Pink said. “It’s key that people are able to reach out for help before [the burnout becomes] too drastic.” 

Lady Pink embedded a QR code in each of the four murals that leads to additional academic burnout resources, incorporating messages asserting that one is never too young to experience burnout. In painting the final mural in Astoria, Queens with a live audience, Lady Pink’s art received immediate approval from the community, with locals thrilled to have seen the shabby underpass turned into something beautiful. The Astoria mural is located at 22-71 33rd St.

The mural located in Astoria captures the overwhelming nature of college burnout, symbolizing how intense focus on academics can overshadow other important aspects of life and can cause the student to lose a sense of themselves. From acquiring the proper permits to paint on a public wall space and researching visuals for the final strokes of paint, the artist’s painting process is a labor of passion used to create an emotional connection between the art and its viewers. 

“It’s community-sanctioned graffiti, a gift to the community who may not otherwise be able to see art. It’s priceless to put a smile on [the individuals in these] less fortunate communities and make an impact on their lives,” Lady Pink said. 

Despite the continuous struggle of finding a landlord that would allow Lady Pink to paint on their building, she persists in an effort to make her art accessible to all. By doing so, she breaks down the financial barriers that often exclude those without means of access to traditional art galleries. Her work serves as a reminder that art should not be limited to the privileged few, but should be a part of everyday life for everyone.

Her social commentary in previous projects included topics on women’s rights, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement and queer rights. Lady Pink’s unwavering dedication lies in using her art as a powerful medium to communicate what she needs to say by prioritizing personal expression and artistic integrity above public opinion. 

“I paint because I have something to say and if I just think about money, it can corrupt the message,” Lady Pink explained. “However, struggling artists cannot pick and choose to keep integrity. They have to put food on the table.”

Drawing upon her experience and dedication to sharing art, Lady Pink also mentors high school students from the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. She opens their eyes to a more holistic view of what it means to be an artist by exposing her mentees to the art world outside of an educational setting. Her mentorship serves as a guiding light, empowering the next generation of artists to navigate their creative journeys with confidence and professionalism.

“Being an artist is 50% talent and 50% business,” Lady Pink said.” “If you want to get your message out there, you got to do it properly.”

Some other murals Lady Pink completed can be viewed here.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Zaza
Jenna Zaza, Arts & Culture Editor
Jenna Zaza is The Statesman's Arts and Culture Editor. She is a second-year journalism major with a minor in Korean studies and on the fast-track MBA program. When she is not writing, she is probably reading a book with a cup of coffee in hand.
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  • K

    Kitty KunstNov 25, 2023 at 8:45 am

    wow what an incredible interview, made me cry!!!
    I’m experiencing the burnout right now!
    I decided to go to university at the age of 50 during lockdown. Now at my final year of fine arts I feel like giving up. The intense academia that gets you that grade is so stressful. Also I have learning difficulties and use art as an escape from the stress of writing. My art has suffered due to all the essays I have to write. But on the plus side, researching Lady Pink for my dissertation has lead me to this very poignant article, thank you x

    Reply