Biography / Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper is a documentary photographer who has specialized in shooting urban vernacular art and architecture for over thirty years. In 1977, Martha moved to New York City and worked as a staff photographer on the NY Post for three years. During that time she began to document graffiti and b-boying, subjects which led to her extensive coverage of early Hip Hop as it emerged from the Bronx. These photos, published worldwide, helped make Hip Hop the predominant international youth movement it is today.
Martha’s first book Subway Art (with Henry Chalfant), has been in print since 1984 and is affectionately called the “Bible” by graffiti artists. Her next book, R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art looks at memorial murals in NYC and Hip Hop Files 1980-1984 contains hundreds of rare, early Hip Hop photos. We B*Girlz is an intensive look at girls who breakdance worldwide, and Street Play and New York State of Mind are her collections of NYC photos from the late 70’s. Tag Town shows the evolution of graffiti style from early tags to complicated pieces. Her books, Going Postal and Name Tagging contain hundreds of images of graffiti and street art on postal stickers. Remembering 9/11 captures the variety of spontaneous memorials that sprang up in New York after the attack on the World Trade Center. Her book, Tokyo Tattoo 1970, published in 2011 by Dokument in Sweden, showcases photos she took while living in Japan in the 70′s.
Martha’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and published in numerous magazines from National Geographic to Vibe. She lives in Manhattan where she is the Director of Photography at City Lore, the New York Center for Urban Folk Culture. Recently Martha has been documenting street artists working in Wynwood, Miami as well as shooting a on-going personal project comparing SoWeBo, a neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore to Soweto, South Africa.