Professor Sarah Aponte would like to thank graffiti and teaching artist Carlos Jesus Martinez Dominguez (FEEGZ) for personally donating exhibition programs, newspaper clippings, and flyers that document his work over the years in the U.S. and abroad. Carlos is athought-provoking artist who draws inspiration from the culture and related histories of Hip Hop, New York City, and the Caribbean. He describes his agency as an artist born out of the intersection of his own identity as a Dominican-Puerto Rican American man and the inherent tensions that exist within our systemically ingrained system of beliefs.
Last year he was awarded the Proclamation award from the city of New York for his efforts in the arts at Ydanis Rodriguez District Office in Washington Heights. Here is a link to a piece written by freelance writer and art enthusiast Roz Baron on his recognition and exhibition Displaced Vandalism NYC.
According to Uptown Arts Review, FEEGZ is very socially and politically engaged, and he seeks to create a dialogue around the issues of naming and how communities are formed by their access to knowledge about their own history as well as basic human needs like housing and education. Associations of Research Libraries (ACRL) have been spotlighting the inextricable connection between graffiti and street art as a legitimate source of academic study. Explaining this view by saying “it is being studied as a reaction to injustice and disenfranchisement, a cry for revolution, a way to create awareness of socio-political issues, an expression of hope for the future, an effort to reclaim public spaces, or an attempt to beautify the urban environment, among others.” These are themes he raises in his art; Carlos has been an outspoken advocate for this kind of inclusion.
In 2011, the issue of graffiti as an under-recognized artistic form was discussed as part of an artist talk at the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance. Carlos expressed in the Manhattan Times how graffiti is an important vehicle for the youth to announce “I exist”. He shares these views with the after-school graffiti art class he teaches to students at the Children’s Arts and Science Workshop. His response raises deeper questions on how graffiti is perceived in our society and the youth whose creative expression is often judge through race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc. It is important to mention that graffiti emerges from a period of fiscal crisis and restructuring in New York City during the 1970s under this context we can understand racial structure that is put in place for the criminalization of youth and underestimate this art form. In terms of the “public sphere” for graffiti and street art few places remained as New York City restructured itself in the 70s and into the present. Political leaders continue to make alliances with the business community to privatize these public spaces in the service of capital accumulation.
Graffiti has always been accessible to everyone and it is important that we maintain the same accessibility to their works through preserving the documentation of graffiti artists like Carlos Martinez in our library.
For those who want to see Carlos Martinez’s work and hear him speak about his art you can visit his website .