Doze Green. "Ghetto
Resilient," 1998. Triptych. Acrylic on canvas.
3'x1'. Courtesy of the artist.
A Tools Of War press release from publicist: Christie
Z-Pabon at ToolsOfWar@aol.com
Was subway graffiti art a propellant for the Hip Hop explosion?
Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New York City, a new book from Ivor L.
Miller says "YES!"
Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New York City
by Ivor L. Miller
Foreword by Robert Farris Thompson
University Press of Mississippi
Click here to order online paperback ==>
New York's graffiti "problem" ignited a worldwide, Hip Hop art explosion!
When New York City youths started spray painting subway cars, their markings
were acts of rebellion and defiant communications between neighborhoods. Ivor
L. Miller, author of the new book Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New
York City (University Press of Mississippi), says the impact on the art world
was immediate. Miller writes, "The illegal and rebellious nature of this form
caused it to be, on the one hand, attacked by the city administration and on
the other celebrated by artists who recognized its aesthetic value."
From a vast array of inherited traditions and gritty urban lifestyles, talented and renegade young New Yorkers spawned a culture of their own, a
balloon-lettered shout heralding the coming of Hip Hop. "Through their activities the subway painters remapped the city," Miller writes. "By
visually communicating via the trains, they drew attention to the city's
marginal neighborhoods and the nature of life on the streets." By the 1980s
spray-paint art had hit the mainstream, and subway painters became art world
Aerosol Kingdom documents the careers of the graffiteros and records the
reflections of many key figures in the movement. The creative period of the
movement has lasted for over twenty years, but most of the original works
have vanished. Official cleanup of public sites erased great pieces of the heyday. They exist now only in photographs and in the artists' sketchbooks.
These are the sources Miller used to illustrate his book.
In a foreword to Aerosol Kingdom, Robert Farris Thompson writes, "The best
graffiteros--all in this book--are also strong artists, setting off shock
waves of mimesis and enthusiasm. The intelligence and the heart behind these
calligrapher-writers will change many minds. The maturity of the idiom and
the seriousness of the writers come through in this book like no other I
know. It's aerosol gold."
Illustrations, pieces, photos and/or interviews of artists include: AMRL/BAMA, BLADE, BUTCH 2, CASE 2,
CEY, COCO 144, CRACHEE, CRASH, DASH 167,
DAZE, DEATH, DERO, DOC, DOME, DOZE, DURO, EZO, FREEDOM, FUTURA, FUZZ 1, IZ
the WIZ, James TOP, JAY-ONE, JONONE, KOOR, KYLE 156, LADY PINK, LEE, LSD OM,
MARE 139, MICO, NIC-ONE, NOC 167, PHASE 2, RAMM:ELL:ZEE, SHARP, SHY, SLAVE,
SKEME, SPAR, SPON, STAY HIGH 149, TULL-13, VAMM, VULCAN, WANE ONE C.O.D.,
WEST ONE, ZEPHYR and more! Ivor Miller also interviews many documentarians
including Charlie Ahearn (Wild Style), Henry Chalfant (Style Wars/Subway Art)
and Martha Cooper (Subway Art/ Hip Hop Files).
Archives from research for Aerosol Kingdom, including tape
recorded interviews with the artists, are deposited in the Amherst College
Library, and available to the public. asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/amherst/ma166_main.html
From Jeff Chang's review of Aerosol Kingdom in the Village Voice (Sept. 11,
"Unlike academics who study rap, a serious graf scholar can't simply flip on
BET for raw material. Ivor L. Miller's Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of
New York City is the product of a 15 year journey through the New York scene,
capturing his sense of awe and admiration for the risk, skill, and ambition
of the graf-writers on every lavishly illustrated page."
"..the book appears like a freshly painted 5 roaring out of the tunnel onto a
Bronx el, a Flash of the Spirit for the hip-hop gen. Soon after embarking on
the study, Miller tossed out his theories and decided his job was to act as
interpreter and disseminator. The result is an unprecedented record of grafs
subway years, told in interviews with artists like BLADE, James TOP, DOZE,
the IZ and the WIZ- writers whose names have become myth but whose stories
Aerosol Kingdom Book Party
November 22 -23, 2002: The New York University Institute of African American
Affairs saluted Ivor Miller and his book: Aerosol Kingdom!
Day 1: Discussion, Q&A, Panel and Book Signing.
Ivor Miller moderated a panel featuring: LEE, DAZE, DURO, FUTURA, PHASE
TOO, VULCAN and LADY PINK.
Day 2: Slide presentations from Schmidlapp, VULCAN, and Charlie Ahearn..