Martha Cooper- "Stayhigh Saint" Photo

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Martha Cooper "Stayhigh Saint" Signed C-Print by Martha Cooper. Paper size measures  20" x 16". Hand signed by Martha lower right.

Gordon Wayne Roberts created the tag Stay High 149, combined it with a smoking, halo-adorned stick man he borrowed from The Saint television show and changed the face of graffiti.  It's hard to imagine a trip through the subway system in early 70's without seeing his name a dozen times. Changing to his secondary alias, voice of the ghetto, around 1974 , ,he introduced the world to two and three toned markers that spewed rainbows of psychedelic cool. After a 25 year disappearance , a time during which many assumed him dead, he reappeared at a graff show in 2000 and soon launched a comeback that gave a new generation a chance to know and love his work. His tags had the rarest combination of style and meaning I've ever witnessed . High Maintenance is about paying back one of the most inspirational , yet humble cats to ever wield a marker. His spirit and legacy has touched every era of a culture that's blown up world wide. The artists who so generously donated their work for this benefit are giving their collective thanks to a man who transcended graffiti culture and in time be remembered as an American Folk Hero. All net proceeds from this sale will go to Stayhigh's Family.

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 Grinnel 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.

 



 

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