Street Art

The world’s current engagement with Street Art had its beginnings in New York City neighborhoods in the 1970’s. The growth of graffiti had humble origins in a sprawling diversity that thrived on personal style, the need to belong, and a youthful compulsion for competition and risk. Young bombers from all over the United States and Europe took their inspiration from the bold personal statements and larger-than-life exploits of subway graffiti gangs and personalities during the 1970’s and 80’s.

Internationally, cities and urban artists have embraced the large-scale possibilities for creative expression and civic embellishment, and all of the major metropolitan areas of the world boast a thriving, expressive community of artists who take their thoughts, observations and opinions to the street. Nurtured and supported internationally, but often still vilified in the United States, this vital, contemporary art form is embraced by some of the most talented and original artists in the world today.

Street Art offers an engaging springboard for high school students to find validity, relevance and personal voice, while providing a provocative forum for discussing a host of contemporary social and artistic issues.

I am not an academically trained history, art history, social or political science authority – I am led by my personal interests to share what excites me. My instructional goal is to communicate my enthusiasm and admiration to my listeners, and to provoke their own explorations of this significant art form and the passion that goes into its creation.

My recommended list of print, online, video and movie resources.

Street Art Google Slide presentations

These Google Slide presentations, periodically updated, are what I use when I give presentations to audiences – both middle school / high school and adult. They serve as visual support only – the evolution of “writing”, the individual stories, and the social, economic and political threads that run through this progression are what I tell my listeners. The information in these slides is mostly visual – you need someone to tell the story to you. But I hope you can reference these slides, to help you learn and teach.

An Armchair Tour of Street Art – a five-part class on the history, development, and continuing evolution of street art, with significant waypoints along the way.

Marking Walls – as humans, we’ve been at it for a long time. [slides]

Work On Walls: building community through street art is an extremely brief introduction to the history of street art from graffiti to contemporary street art murals by communities and students. These slides help to give a feeling of continuity and context to teachers and students contemplating a communal mural project. Part 1. Part 2.

From Tags to Wild Style is an unforgivably short presentation, geared to art teachers,  I attempt to establish the importance and presence of wall art from pre-history, and unroll the emergence of name-based letterform surface art in New York City in the late 20th century.

From Tags to Wild Style 

In The Emergence of Street Art, graffiti morphs into a more figurative and expressive art form and begins to alter our understandings of traditional museum curation and sanction. Teachers might use this short introduction to some of the more famous artists that began in the street, bridged the gap to fine art and became famous brands or inventors of new media. By taking their unique personal style and approach to public art, and transforming it through intent, we begin to see how these artists use public art – accessible to all to make, and view – change our conception of what art is, who can make it, and what its purpose is.

The Emergence Of Street Art

Making Murals – a short introduction for teachers who need a quick concise introduction to the history of public art, before introducing a collaborative project for middle or high school students who have the opportunity to put up murals for their school.

Street Art, from graffiti to public service.

How Street Art supports community.


Street Art Mediums and Techniques is a brief introduction to the range of media street artists work – spray and roller paint techniques, free-hand and stencil painting, wheat paste posters, stickers, sculpture and 3-dimensional construction.

Street Art Mediums and Techniques

Voices in the Street is a 2018 presentation I used in workshops that highlighted street art movements and artists who were making themselves heard about cultural, political, and environmental issues. In the last few years, street artists have gone into action as individuals and groups to voice and sway opinions about many events and crisis – from the Arab Spring to terrorist attacks, from gentrification to the consumer culture. The street is an open forum for opinion and expression.

Voices in the Street

This Introduction To The Bushwick Collective is a survey of a 6 square blocks of street scape in Brooklyn, New York, that is densely packed with wall and sidewalk art work. Though there are collections and stand alone street art pieces all over the city, clustered and isolated, the Bushwick Collective, a section of commercial and industrial real estate has invited local and international street art talent since 2012, and the demise of 5 Pointz. Curated by a local property owner, the Collective is the new mecca for those devoted to a gallery of the streets and the exuberant voices of art makers celebrating their own talent while honoring larger themes and commenting on social issues.

An Introduction To The Bushwick Collective


“After taking my 8th graders on tour to the Bushwick Collective, Marty spent two days presenting to them in all my classes. Students were mesmerized – Marty made street art come alive while showing how this contemporary art movement is a vehicle for expression, meaning and learning.”  R.S. Pelham MS art teacher