Martha Cooper

Latest Post - Sunday, June 9th, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Total Contributions - 14

Martha Cooper is an American photojournalist born in the 1940s in Baltimore, Maryland where she picked up photography at the age of three. She graduated from high school at the age of 16, earned an art degree at age 19 from Grinnell College. She taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, journeyed by motorcycle from Bangkok to London and received an ethnology diploma from Oxford. She worked as a staff photographer for the New York Post during the 1970s. She is perhaps best known for documenting the New York graffiti scene of the 1970s and '80s. Her most known personal work began while working at the New York Post. On her return home from the Post she began taking photos of children in her New York city neighborhood. One day she met a young kid named Edwin who helped expose her to some of the graffiti around her neighborhood. Edwin helped to explain to her that Graffiti is an art form and that each artist was actually writing his/her nickname. Edwin then proceeded to tell of the Graffiti King and asked if she would like to meet him. This is when Martha met Dondi, the first one who allowed her to accompany him; while Dondi was tagging she would take photos of his art. In the 1980s she put together a book of photos illustrating the Graffiti subculture called Subway Art. She has degrees in art and anthropology.She was a photography intern at National Geographic Magazine in the 1960s, and worked as a staff photographer at the New York Post in the 1970s. Her photographs have appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian and Natural History magazines as well as several dozen books and journals. She is the Director of Photography at City Lore, the New York Center for Urban Folk Culture. Cooper lives in Manhattan but is working on a photo project in Sowebo, a Southwest Baltimore neighborhood. In the 1980s Martha worked briefly in Belize photographing the people and archaeological remains of the Mayan culture. Two sites that received publication in National Geographic were Nohmul & Cuello, both under the direction of Dr. Norman Hammond.

Recent News by Martha Cooper

Street Artists Spruce up Street Vendors’ Stable in Baltimore

By Martha Cooper - Sunday, June 9, 2013

My documentation of Baltimore traditions merged with my interest in street art last month as Gaia, LNY, Mata Ruda, Nanook and Sorta brought their skills and supplies to one of the last of the A-rabber stables in Baltimore. A-rabbing, the practice of selling fruit and vegetables from horse drawn carts, has existed since the 1800’s but is in danger of dying out. The impracticalities of keeping horses in the inner city combined with the difficulty of getting fresh produce to sell has taken its toll on this enterprise.  » Read more about: Street Artists Spruce up Street Vendors’ Stable in Baltimore  »

Liu Bolin Disappears at 5 Pointz – 5 Pointz May Disappear Too – Meeting Tonight

By Martha Cooper - Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chinese Artist Liu Bolin aka The Invisible Man had himself painted into an intricate graffiti mural at 5 Pointz yesterday. After touring a few graffiti sites, Liu selected a rich jungle scene by Meres and Zeso as the perfect backdrop for his unique disappearing act. It was a timely choice because 5 Pointz itself is in danger of disappearing. Legal walls are scarce in New York City and 5 Pointz has long been the place for national and international writers to paint.  » Read more about: Liu Bolin Disappears at 5 Pointz – 5 Pointz May Disappear Too – Meeting Tonight  »

City Glyphs – Robert Janz at Work

By Martha Cooper - Sunday, March 3, 2013

“Variations on ancestral glyphic art, echoes of our origins : active meditations on transience, exercises on emptiness” – Robert Janz At 80, Robert Janz has been around longer than most of us but I only recently became aware of his work. I was able to meet him with a little help from Stikman who happened to bump into him a couple of months ago as they were both out and about doing their thing. Janz has traveled and exhibited widely in both Europe and the US.  » Read more about: City Glyphs – Robert Janz at Work  »

City Glyphs – Robert Janz at Work

By Martha Cooper - Sunday, March 3, 2013

“Variations on ancestral glyphic art, echoes of our origins : active meditations on transience, exercises on emptiness” – Robert Janz At 80, Robert Janz has been around longer than most of us but I only recently became aware of his work. I was able to meet him with a little help from Stikman who happened to bump into him a couple of months ago as they were both out and about doing their thing. Janz has traveled and exhibited widely in both Europe and the US.  » Read more about: City Glyphs – Robert Janz at Work  »

Freights n' Ravens

By Martha Cooper - Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yesterday I went to the Ravens Super Bowl celebration. The football stadium is a short distance from Sowebo, the neighborhood I’ve been documenting since 2006. So I just walked over and joined the100,000+ screaming fans who turned out for the event. The Super Bowl championship really lifted the spirits of Baltimoreans and the city went wild. Since the players were parading slowly towards the stadium from City Hall, I climbed up to the top deck and waited outside the seating area for an hour or so to see if I could catch a glimpse of them as they arrived.  » Read more about: Freights n' Ravens  »

Freights n' Ravens

By Martha Cooper - Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yesterday I went to the Ravens Super Bowl celebration. The football stadium is a short distance from Sowebo, the neighborhood I’ve been documenting since 2006. So I just walked over and joined the100,000+ screaming fans who turned out for the event. The Super Bowl championship really lifted the spirits of Baltimoreans and the city went wild. Since the players were parading slowly towards the stadium from City Hall, I climbed up to the top deck and waited outside the seating area for an hour or so to see if I could catch a glimpse of them as they arrived.  » Read more about: Freights n' Ravens  »

Double Trouble – Twins in the City

By Martha Cooper - Monday, January 28, 2013

How & Nosm have a big show opening on February 1 at Jonathan Levine’s Pop-Up Gallery at 557 West 23rd Street in Chelsea. The show is called Late Confessions and the centerpiece is a fabulous three dimensional cardboard surprise. By chance, Os Gemeos is in town so there could be a rare double twin photo-op at the opening. I was lucky to catch them together in Miami during Art Basel. See you Friday. {image-2} {image-1}  » Read more about: Double Trouble – Twins in the City  »

Stikman's Ten Year Tribal/Insect/Primordial Cycle

By Martha Cooper - Friday, January 11, 2013

While driving to Baltimore for New Year’s with a friend I was lucky to be able to stop off in Philly and catch the end of Stikman’s show at Stupid Easy Gallery. Stikman himself gave me a tour of the neighborhood and showed me his first stick figure launched for 2013. This lil guy is part of a ten year project he started in 2007 called the Ten Year Tribal/Insect/Primordial Cycle. Every year Stikman makes a couple hundred stick figures of identical design and puts them up throughout the year.  » Read more about: Stikman's Ten Year Tribal/Insect/Primordial Cycle  »

marthacoopergram I Am

By Martha Cooper - Friday, January 4, 2013

People are always asking me how graffiti has changed over the years but a better question, for me at least, is how photography has changed. My dad had a camera store in Baltimore and gave me my first camera in 1946 when I was in nursery school. I’ve been taking pictures ever since–for 67 years! George Eastman put photography into the hands of ordinary people in 1888 with the first Kodak camera. So I’ve been shooting for over half the history of modern photography.  » Read more about: marthacoopergram I Am  »

MoMA Profits from Faux Subway Graffiti

By Martha Cooper - Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The most surprising card I received this year was from Jetsonorama, a doctor/photographer/artist who lives and works on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. He sent me a beautifully produced foil stamped, die cut card, published by MoMA. It’s a clever 3D pop up showing reindeer taking the subway presumably because New York’s airspace is too crowded for them to fly. The subway car is decorated with a red and green pseudo graff Santa piece. The designer of the card,  » Read more about: MoMA Profits from Faux Subway Graffiti  »

Articulate Baltimore Wraps Up Despite Sandy

By Martha Cooper - Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stefan Hauswald and Jesse James, curators of Articulate Baltimore, weren’t planning on a hurricane when they invited artists to paint in October. Luckily Sandy only interrupted the action and everyone managed to finish as planned–more or less. Articulate Baltimore took place along Howard Street, a formerly thriving but now mostly boarded up inner city shopping district. Baltimore’s venerable department stores, Hutzler’s, Hochschild’s and Stewart’s were formerly located there. I grew up in Baltimore and fondly remember shopping for ribbons for my pony tail in these elegant stores.  » Read more about: Articulate Baltimore Wraps Up Despite Sandy  »