Narisha “Nish” Cash, an Aboriginal self-taught female graffiti artist from Adelaide, is challenging the misconception that the world of graffiti and street art is a “man’s world”.
The Jingili and Mudburra artist has been a regular on the street art scene in the South Australian city since the 1990s when at the age of 15 she first started paving street walls with her work. With her tag ‘ISHK’ (the sound of a spray can), her art has evolved over the years to include themes of femininity, colour and form, nature and her aboriginal culture.
In an interview with SBS, she said: “I usually paint strong powerful women with elements of strength and tough qualities through guns, bandanas, and piercings. What appeals to me of the female form is that it’s the giver of life, its Mother Nature, its beauty.
“I’ve always been surrounded by strong women and it’s important for my characters speak that. There’s a lot of strength around being a woman, especially an Aboriginal woman.”
After becoming a mother, Narisha Cash saw the opportunity to channel her creative practices into a career. She also used her art as a form of healing to overcome obstacles she encountered as a teen and young woman growing up in Adelaide.
She said: “When I started out doing graff there wasn’t a lot of females out there. I’d never thought I’d make a living out of it.”
Inspired by hip hop and breakdancing culture also, it was the artist’s foray into grafitti that opened her up to delving into breakdancing, DJing and MCing.
A well respected and maternal figure in communities across Australia, Narisha Cash also works as Community Arts and Youth Engagement Officer at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. She shares her knowledge as an artist with youth groups and engages them through art workshops, developing and creating public art murals and opportunities for emerging artists and young people at risk.
Taking graffiti art in the context of the coded language of the streets, the Aboriginal artist, with her unique and feminine style of aerosol art, relates her practice to her ancestors creating art work – storytelling, culture and symbolism – to communicate through their natural surroundings.
Narisha Cash believes that grafitti has the ability to connect young people, especially indigenous youth who feel disconnected to culture, in a way that inspires, empowers and educates.
She told SBS: “It gives them something to do that’s positive, rather than turning to grog (alcohol) or drugs, enabling kids to turn to music, dance, painting.
“In our culture, we have the dance, music and arts so it’s important for young people to get themselves out there and be that next generation to get out there and carry that positive torch on and be positive with their outlet.
“I think it’s important for young people to have a variety of ways to express themselves, be it creating public art or transporting spaces into something beautiful.
“I want kids to get an inspiration to get a career in the artistic field and follow my footsteps…I think it’s important for youth to see Aboriginal people doing good things.”
Image Source: Narisha Cash Facebook page
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com