AIKO’s biggest Stencil So Far: Power, Sex, and the Saxophone

Aiko Nakagawa shows off her newest stencil (photo Martha Cooper)

Street Artist Aiko worked with the Younity Collective to put up a large mural as a gift to the community recently right next to the Williamsburg Bridge. The all-woman collective, started in 2007 by Alice Mizrachi and Maria “Toofly” Castillo, empowers individuals as artists by creating projects together and celebrating the strengths that each one brings to the game. Now nearing 60 artist members, including multiple disciplines and many names in Graff Art and Street Art you might know such as Lady Pink, Swoon, Drexel, Martha Cooper, and Shiro, the Younity Collective offers much needed support to artists through comraderie and community projects.

When asked about her approach to the project, Aiko agrees that it is very personal, “It made me feel happy to keep working on the mural. It’s a nice feeling to create something beautiful for everybody’s everyday life. If I have a talent to encourage people, make them smile and to cheer them up, that’s totally great.”

Aiko

Aiko plays her cards with a full hand (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Is it fun to work as part of the Younity collective?
Aiko: It was fun to be part of Younity’s project and I’m glad they called me up. Even though I rarely go bombing with boys, staying away from illegal street activities and focusing on indoor works these days, it brought me all the good energy about working in public space and spending time with other artists again. Plus all girls were very chill, no beef.

AikoAiko (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: The stencil is quite large! Do you usually work that big?
Aiko: A big wall is such a great challenge. I love listening people say “Holy Sh*t, Aiko!!!” from behind me while I’m painting. Actually a lot of people who have been following my exhibitions might notice that my works are getting bigger and better. Stencil is my favorite tool to paint with and I’m so good at using the knife. It took me at least a few days to cut such a giant stencil like that. It killed my fingers and the material is really delicate to handle, transport, and place on the wall. Winds and a bumpy surface is enemy for painting. But what a wonderful feeling to see the finally sprayed image on a wall after all this effort. Big stencils are such joy.

Detail of mural by Aiko (photo Martha Cooper)

Brooklyn Street Art: Your main image is a woman playing a saxophone – is that because
of the jazz club inside?

Aiko: The image of the sexy lady with saxophone was also the request from the owner, who runs the historical live music house, WMC Jazz (Williamsburg Music Center). I love music and dance, and I’m very happy to contribute to the local community in Brooklyn.

Aiko (Detail)

Aiko (Detail) (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Your colors are very feminine and strong for this piece. How do
you choose your colors?

Aiko: If we can say that paintings are results of an artist’s conversation with themselves and it appears as color and image on the wall, I guess that color is my feeling at this moment. I am in the really feminine, very sexy and super strong phase of my life.

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Lady Aiko embarks this fall on a long trip to participate in shows abroad.

Aiko’s Website

Younity Collective

The Younity Collective are: Alice Mizrachi, Maria “Toofly” Castillo, Albeni Garrett, Aiko Nakagawa, Alexandra Casula, Alexia Webster, Jane Dickson, Amanda Lopez, B.I.C., Cece Carpio, Dee Keating, Diana McClure, Diana Schmertz, Diva, Drexel, Erotica, Faith47, Female Sneaker Fiend, GMO$, Heather N. Hayashi, Helene Ruiz, Katrina “RUKUS” Knutson, Kelly Jeanne Lever, Krista Frankln, Lady Pink, Laura Meyers, Lexi Bella, Lichiban, Lisa Case, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Mad C, Martha Cooper, Meridith McNeal, Muck, Nancy Rodriguez, Nanibah “Nani” Chacon, Naomi Martinez, Niz, Not Bad For a Girl, Kerri O’Connell, Paulina Qunitan Jornet, Petra Moser, Queen Andrea, SHIRO, Sofia Maldonado, Stephanie Land, Swoon, Nanilla Medallions, Andrea Celilia Bernal, Gabriella Davi-Korasanee, M.I.S.S., Nubby Twiglet


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