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Metaphorical sit-down with JDL Street Art

JDL Street Art, also known as Judith de Leeuw, is a 24 year-old born and raised in Amsterdam. We, here at SAMA, have had the pleasure of working with her in the past, and now have the opportunity to ask her about the more recent experiences she has gone through as an artist and woman. Furthermore, we'll be provided with a small insight into her most recent piece.

How do you know SAMA? Me and Anna live in the same city, a very small but big city called Amsterdam.

Have you done any projects with SAMA in the past? We have worked on an awareness campaign for WWF which was

drafting attention on the extinction of tigers. It was a long time ago on one our biggest squares, Leidseplein, where I painted a 5m long tigers eye.

Have you received any awards or accolades for your work? Yes, I received 2 awards. The last award was the Amsterdam award in Arts and culture in 2019. Both the awards stood out a lot. The dutch street art awards stood out because I had too much fun, dropped the award and broke it. During the Amsterdam award I was sick, I showed up but totally not prepared for winning. I remember there were girls in huge 'red carpet dresses', I just came in a hoodie and a beanie, the same outfit as anybody would have on a Sunday. I felt kind of ashamed when i ran up the stage and apologised for not being prepared. The presenter on the stage told me I should be happy that at least I remembered to wear clothes and didn't show up naked.

Then the director of the Van Gogh museum handed me the award, and I left the stage.

Do you partake in any international festivals? I participated in a lot of international street art festivals from Asia to America. They were all unique, I don't think you can compare them to one another. I love that every country has their own personality, and it fits exactly the people that you were working with in that moment. There is so much contrast between the very emotional Italians and the sober Swedish. For me it's been confusing, as in each country, another type of behaviour and working ethics are preferred. But I feel like I got the hang of it now.

I've seen a lot of good. I've seen a little bit of bad. I've worked very hard, that hard that I sacrificed my health. But i don't regret it at all. I've seen so many cultures, so many unique places that I could never dream of before and I'm thankful for that. I really feel like I got to know the world from a very broad perspective, it's something to treasure.

Have you ever run into any complications during your travels because you are a female? Yes, I did. A lot. Women in society are still not equal to men and in the street art scene I've been struggling a bit in some circumstances.Besides that you have the regular things; I've been completely overblown by the eyes that I got in Abu Dhabi showing up in my shorts & tattoos in between the long Arabian white dresses and burqa's. It was a lesson that I had to experience by making mistakes first. Besides that i couldn't always walk on the streets alone in Asia in the middle of the night, my curator gave me a big metal stick in order to protect myself and i've been carrying it with me everywhere. We created a lot of funny memories together along the way.

From your observations, would you say there’s been an increase in female street artists? Yes, it's been increasing shockingly, especially for the past 5 years. I can also see a big shift in the relationship between graffiti which is getting more and more absent.

If you could give us a little insight into your most recent mural? The mural is called Outside In and is made for the LGBT+ movement. The mural depicts a woman looking into a frame, as a mirror, seeing her reflection as a man. It is designed to create emotional understanding in the process of acceptance in the LGBT+ movement and their surrounding.

This mural is made out of mixed materials, where the last layer of paint (air-lite) is compensating pollution over 52 cars per day. I'm the second artist in the world that is using this specific kind of paint and I will soon create the first wall in the Netherlands. It's located in the center of Rome, and is collaborated with Yourban2030 with support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Circolo Mario Mieli and Vladimir Luxuria.

Do you think it would be possible for Amsterdam to have an international street art festival? It is definitely possible. But the person that will be responsible has to sacrifice a lot as it is very hard work for very little pay-off if it's non-commercial. I think it will be a true battle comparing to the other cities in the world.

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