Because of O.G multiculturalists like Kodakgirl…

Martha Cooper, tagged by the city’s B-boys and B-girls, who has left her own indelible mark on New York as an obsessive observer of vernacular art and public spaces. Ms. Cooper’s work was informed by her years in the Peace Corps and curating anthropology at the Yale Peabody Museum. She is currently director of photography at City Lore, a center for urban culture.

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BOOK: Subway Art - by Martha Cooper 1984

BOOK: Subway Art - by Martha Cooper 1984

The 1984 book “Subway Art,” Ms. Cooper’s collaboration with Henry Chalfant, a photographer and filmmaker, captured graffiti’s golden and assaultive years. It sold half a million copies, becoming the movement’s bible — and epitaph. An updated 25th-anniversary edition, of the book, to be published next month by Chronicle Books.

Dondi

Dondi

In the 1970s, Donald White, or “Dondi,” graffiti writer from East New York, helped spawn an urban art movement that flourished across five continents. This photograph, taken in 1980 in the New Lots railyard in Brooklyn, is the cover of the new edition of “Subway Art.”

Futura 2000

Futura 2000

A portrait of “Futura 2000” with a spray can taken in 1983. “Is it art or vandalism?” people ask Ms. Cooper. She replies, “Why can’t it be both? If the cops weren’t around, I don’t know that any of the culture would be around. This is a culture that thrives on being illegal.”

"Sons of the Ghetto" character and his message by SKEME, 1982

"Sons of the Ghetto" character and his message by SKEME, 1982

Martha Cooper with Henry Chalfant portrayed as characters from "The Simpsons," complete with their cameras, on a wall mural at 5 Pointz, a graffiti-covered building in Queens, in 2008

Martha Cooper with Henry Chalfant portrayed as characters from "The Simpsons," complete with their cameras, on a wall mural at 5 Pointz, a graffiti-covered building in Queens, in 2008

Ms. Cooper’s most recent book is “Going Postal” shows how artists have applied their logos, “tags” and images on postal stickers affixed to mailboxes and parking meters. It is “a sign of how graffiti has progressed and endured,” Ms. Cooper says.

More Kodakgirl photos click here.

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