Sandra Fabara—LADY PINK—was the first prominent female figure to emerge from the graffiti and hip-hop subcultures. A rebel, a truth-teller, and a voice for equality, LADY PINK has become an inspiration in the street art world.
Sandra Fabara was born in Ecuador in 1964 but grew up in Queens, New York. Before her work could be found all across the city, she was simply a teenager mending her broken heart. Her boyfriend was sent to live in Puerto Rico after being arrested, but she kept his memory strong by tagging his name across New York City. Fabara then started attending the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan where she was introduced to writing and graffiti. Soon after, she coined her name, LADY PINK, and began what would amount to a groundbreaking career as both a street artist and female artist.
LADY PINK painted subway cars from 1979 to 1984, transforming these metallic shells into artistic canvases. In 1980, she was included in a prominent New York show, “GAS: Graffiti Art Success.” Then, in 1983, she starred as Rose in Charlie Ahern’s film Wild Style, transforming her into a hip-hop and graffiti icon and propelling her forward into her career.
LADY PINK now uses her expertise and stature to help the communities around her by advocating for social awareness, producing massive works around New York City. She also hosts mural workshops for kids and lectures about her experiences within her world and the role art plays in it.
Her bold tagging—a signature of sorts for graffiti artists—paved the way for women to get more involved in the masculine tagging culture. Men tag their work more commonly than women, but that was of no concern for LADY PINK, whose bold tags have been and remain to be seen on all of her city-wide work.
Unlike her contemporaries in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, LADY PINK’s graffiti is more accurately defined as murals—murals that speak out to the public and do more than simply sit on a wall.
“Public work has a responsibility,” LADY PINK said. “It has to be family friendly, you have to take the community into consideration.”
The most famous work of LADY PINK is entitled “Lady Liberty is Bush’s Whore.”
The title is symbolic of the graffiti subculture from which LADY PINK arose. The monkey in the image above is a depiction of George W. Bush. He leads the pink lady by a chain, implying the corruption of civil liberties by the government at the time. It was through this piece that LADY PINK found her powerful voice. She knows that her pieces are only temporary, but that doesn’t stop her from calling out to neighborhoods around her through her expressive art. “That’s progress in New York City,” she said. “All murals are fleeting. You paint it and kiss it goodbye.”
Through all of her efforts and accomplishments, LADY PINK has become a female figurehead in the graffiti subculture. “I’d like to think I set an example earlier on that no matter what size you are or gender or anything, it just takes a lot of dedication and a lot of courage and a lot of heart to get this done, and a lot of women have followed suit,” she said.
LADY PINK inspires countless individuals to work hard for the art that they believe in, modeling how to stand strong and disregard the fear of others’ judgment. She speaks her own truths through her art and is unafraid of how it will be perceived, for her art is her own and it tells no lies.