Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
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Martha Cooper

North Country Heritage Award Photographer

All of the North Country Heritage Award portraits are the work of Martha Cooper, a celebrated documentary photographer from Manhattan and TAUNY’s Photography Director. Though she has specialized in urban vernacular art and architecture photography, Marty has also been a frequent visitor to our region to shoot for North Country Heritage Awards and other TAUNY projects for more than two decades.

Marty grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa, and spent two years teaching English in Thailand with the Peace Corps. After returning from Thailand by motorcycle across Asia, she studied at OxfordUniversity for a year, receiving a diploma in ethnology.

In 1977, Marty moved to New York City and worked as a staff photographer on the New York Post for three years. During that time she began to shoot graffiti and break dancing, subjects that led to her extensive coverage of early Hip Hop as it emerged from the Bronx. Her first book Subway Art, a collaboration with Henry Chalfant, was re-issued in 2009, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its first publication. This book has been affectionately called the “bible” by graffiti artists worldwide. Her recent retrospective book Hip Hop Files is a selection of her documentation that has received critical praise and popular responses.

Marty’s photos have been widely exhibited in museums and galleries and published in countless magazines from National Geographic to Vibe. She has also been the Director of Photography at City Lore, the New York Center for Urban Folk Culture, since 1987.

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