Artists Swoon, Vexta, ELLE and Maya Hayuk are taking to the streets in the name of art, despite it often being thought of as a man's world.

New York artist ELLE was determined to break out into the New York street art scene by tagging her name around the city as much as she could. ELLE's Brooklyn show in 2014 Titled Unextinguished for which she collaborated with photographer Martha Cooper, represented women against the streets being covered only with the names of male taggers. ELLE's work often depicts strong women who act as a form of protection for herself when creating artwork in the streets.

ELLE

ELLE commented on the views of gender in the street art community: "I understand the deterrents – potential jail time, the humiliation of community service, destruction of property (or beautification, depending on your view), late nights, dark places, high climbs. All of this reminds me of that Always commercial, Like a Girl, where all of the girls and boys run exactly the same until about age 12, then take the meaning of running 'like a girl' to mean flailing hands and legs and skipping and not sincerely running hard and kicking ass."

"I believe the reason more women aren't street artists is because society implies that certain things are just for men. As I became more aware of this, it became a motive for me to be a role model for younger women."

Australian Vexta work is an exploration of the dream world, she explores evolution and connectivity in the world. Her work has inspired a generation, to which she commented: "Some young girl might see a painting or something that I've done and realize that she can do that as well. That's a real tangible impact."

Vexta

Vexta represents women in a non over-sexualised way, instead the female form in her work is graceful and is elevated in flight.

"I wanted to do something different, I wanted to make something that was what I wanted to see on the streets, that wasn't just a caricature of a woman. All you would see was that and advertising. Once I had people's attention, then I found I could start making work about what I thought was interesting and had a different perspective and then gain more ground with that."

"Often you're doing a project and there'll be the inclusion of one girl. Or people go to the other extreme and make it all girls. There's no middle ground, which to me highlights the inequality. Your work, whether it's about femininity or not, is always considered through that perspective, which is a valid perspective, but at male street artists' work isn't constantly seen as an expression of their masculinity."

Maya Hayuk recalls the men of her art school, of whom there were less of, graduate and become illustrators and artists, whilst talented female artists failed to break into the art world.

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San Francisco's Hayuk made a name for herself when she moved to New York as part of the Barnstormers collective, where she achieved the ultimate honour of painting the Bowery Wall. Hayuk's work takes a more traditional stance with inspiration drawn from arts and crafts.

Hayuk and Swoon agree that women are largely tokenised in their field. Swoon's joy at being included in a group art show at Moma, NY, was quickly deflated when she realised women only represented a relatively low percentage of the featured artists. "The fact is that this major institution still only has this minority percentage of women and women's work still sells for much below that of men's work."

Swoon enjoyed great success at her 2014 solo show at the Brooklyn Museum.  The installation covered the entire upstairs gallery with hand-built boats from her Swimming Cities project transported across the globe and reconstructed among an intertwining paper forest and huge Avataresque central tree. Swoon's work tackle inequalities of race and gender, which she feels are ever present in today's world.

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"When I ask myself is there anything new or significant about me being a woman in this moment, I think that it's just my perspective; the fact that my voice and the way that I see things are part of this conversation in a way that it has not been in how many hundreds of years."

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