Women are Heroes
French street artist JR turns urban spaces around the world into public art galleries by mounting massive black and white portraits on buildings, bridges, and other facets of the built environment. His haunting photographs put a poignant human face on the lives unfolding on the streets below—which are often marked by conflict, political upheaval, and suffering.
In his “Women are Heroes” project, the 2011 TED Prize winner travelled to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Kenya, India, and Cambodia to engage with local women, uncover their struggles, and “take their stories around the world.” As a means to document and celebrate the often-overlooked dignity and strength of these women, he pasted stunning large-scale portraits of them up in their own communities. The project encompasses a film and a book, which features the original portraits accompanied by each subject’s story, her hopes, and her dreams. As Maria Popova of Brain Pickings writes in her review of Women are Heroes:
“The true power of JR’s project, however, lies not in the lavish, enormous, beautiful Women Are Heroes tome but in the impact his work is having on the very communities from whence it is sourced. The Guardian recounts the story of one onlooker in Monrovia, who didn’t know what an art exhibition was and received the following explanation from another: ‘You have been here for a moment looking at the portraits, asking questions, trying to understand. During that time, you haven’t thought about what you will eat tomorrow. This is art.’”
[Top Image: Mural in Phnom Penh, Cambodia]