Carlos Rodriguez, MARE139

Carlos Rodriguez, also known as Carlos Mare, Mare193 or Carlos Mare139 Rodriguez, is an American graffiti artist, painter and sculptor, best known for his works in subway graffiti and metal sculptures. Born in 1965, Mare grew up in East Harlem (previously called Spanish Harlem) in Upper Manhattan, New York. Like many of his contemporaries, Carlos was also a part of a group who created subway graffiti in the 70s and 80s, when this trend reached its peak. This was also a period of his career when he produced some of the most famous pieces under a pseudonym Mare (short for Nightmare). Carlos created side by side with renowned artists such as Dondi White, Noc167, Kel First, Crash and Kase2, to name a few. Mare’s passion for contemporary art enabled him to change and perfect his own writing style. In 1985, Carlos produced a metal sculpture which had the letter K. With it, the artist made his breakthrough in the art of sculpture. He subsequently produced a series of larger sculptures, where he still employed his signature lettering style. Although in Mare’s later works, a move towards the more convoluted styles of Futurism and Cubism are noticeable, he still stayed true to his graffiti-influenced letters. Rodriguez was commissioned to design the award for BET (short for Black Entertainment Television Awards), given every year to music artists, actors and athletes. Some of the most prominent people in the entertainment industry have received it, including the Academy Award winners Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, and many multiple-Grammy-Award winners such as Beyonce and Jay Z. In 2006, the sculptor received a Webby for the design of the website for the documentary Style Wars. Carlos finished his residency at Brighton University in the UK in 2008, with the project called FreeStyle Archityper. The installation included the sculpture and many of his previous pieces. Carlos’ sculptural pieces have been highly praised by critics, and have been featured in numerous shows and exhibitions in the US, Europe and Australia. Today, he writes and teaches about the history and development of urban art in NYC. He is represented by David Bloch Gallery based in Marrakech, Morocco.

Iona Rozeal Brown

Living and working in Washington DC, Rozeal (formerly known as Iona Rozeal Brown) is a contemporary American painter best known for her use of traditional ukiyo-e print techniques to meld Japanese folklore, geisha, kabuki, and samurai imagery with hip-hop references and African-American culture. Rozeal received her MFA from Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT in 2002. The artist’s paintings have been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally. She received a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in 2010 and in 2011 she was commissioned to create a performance for the Performa Biennial. Rozeal has been featured in exhibitions at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, among others. The artist’s works are in the numerous notable collections including The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.

Ken Swift

Ken Swift (born Kenneth James Gabbert) is a second generation B-boy, or breakdancer, and former Vice President of the Rock Steady Crew of which he was a longtime member and key figure. He is now President of the Breaklife and VII Gems Hip Hop movement in NYC. Ken Swift began B-Boying in 1978 at the age of twelve when he was inspired by dancers on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Widely known in the B-Boy world as “the Epitome of a B-Boy,” he is universally considered by B-Boys to be the individual who has had the greatest influence on break dancing.[1] Ken Swift is credited with the creation of many dance moves. His original footwork and “freeze style” became a foundational part of breaking, which was considered new concepts at the time.[2] Ken Swift has several film credits to his name, including Style Wars, the first Hip Hop documentary, and the first hip-hop major motion picture, Wild Style. His most famous movie was 1983’s hit Flashdance, where his two-minute dance with several members of the Rock Steady Crew launched the Hip-Hop scene into national attention. Ken Swift also danced in the motion picture Beat Street

Raedawn Phoenix

Raymond “DJ Raedawn” Pirtle is an award-winning DJ and educator, and the creator of modern deejay musical transcription, a subject about which he has taught and published extensively. He has developed a successful entrepreneurial approach, diversifying his work into teaching, performing, grant writing, and acting.




Sam Seidel

Sam Seidel is the author of Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education (Rowman & Littlefield), a co-launcher of #HipHopEd on Twitter (Tuesdays at 9pm Eastern), and the Director of K12 Strategy and Research at the Stanford Sam speaks internationally about innovative solutions to challenges facing schools, community organizations, and prisons. He is a passionate and experienced leader in education transformation. Sam has taught in a variety of settings from first grade to community college. He has built and directed programs for young people affected by incarceration. As a consultant, Sam worked with leading national education organizations, including the Black Alliance for Educational Options, Big Picture Learning, and Jobs for the Future, as well as a spectrum of other clients on a diverse set of projects, ranging from redesigning a statewide juvenile justice system to working with the Rockefeller family to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Sam was the Director of Partnerships, Annual Reviews, and Student Leadership for the Association for High School Innovation, a national network of school developers and replicators funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sam graduated from Brown University with a degree in Education and a teaching certification. He was a Scholar-in-Residence at Columbia University’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education, and a Community Fellow at the Rhode Island School of Design. He is always learning.

Toni Blackman

Toni Blackman is an award-winning artist and social entrepreneur, and her steadfast work and commitment to hip hop led the U.S. State Department to invite her to serve as the first Cultural Ambassador for Hip Hop. She has traveled to 42 different countries performing, speaking and teaching.  Toni was recognized as a DOVE Real Woman in 2012 and became part of the campaign in the United States and Canada to help women and girls develop self-confidence and self-love. A recognized Echoing Green Fellow and Open Society Institute Fellow, Toni is a teaching artist and rap performance specialist for Carnegie Hall, and founded Freestyle Union, a Motown-like training ground for MCs. As creator of the Cypher Workshop and Rhyme like a Girl, Toni facilitates improvisational and empowerment workshops, leadership development, lyrical mediation and sacred healing circles for schools, universities and corporations.  The world’s leading expert on Cyphers, Toni is the author of  The Wisdom of Cypher (Red Sky Presents) and co-creator of the Meditation Mixtape Series, a hip-hop meditation project.  She also regularly hosts her signature Cypher workshops for MCs, as well as, her offering for non-artists. A prolific teacher, Toni has held workshops and taught at a variety of institutions including the Kennedy Center, Harvard, NBC Universal, Hallmark, Coca Cola, the World Social Forum, Spelman College, Julliard School and the Smithsonian. She lives between Brooklyn, NY, California’s Bay Area and Dakar, Senegal in West Africa. A multi-faceted hip-hop professional, Toni has been recognized as a pioneer in both hip-hop education and hip-hop theater, but she is also poet whose first book, Inner-Course, a collection of poetry and inspirational prose, was released on Villard/Random House and is available on her website.

Visiting Scholars

Anna Oravcová

Originally from Bratislava, Anna’s love of music and culture is a constant in her life. While studying her BA in Liberal Arts at Charles University, a professor suggested she focus her thesis on something dear to her, she chose Gender Stereotypes in Hip Hop as the subject, and then also successfully completed her master’s degree thesis on The Position of Female Rappers in Gender Studies. Anna started her radio career in 2010, with just 5 minutes of airtime, now she hosts a 3 hour program filled with music, informative segments and guest interviews. During her time running Street Cypher Anna has interviewed CeeLo Green and KRS-One, among others. Currently completing a Ph.D. in Sociology at Charles University, Anna feels comfortable with the path that has brought her this far.


Fanon Che Wilkins

Fanon Che Wilkins is Associate Professor of History and American Studies in the Graduate School of Global Studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.  His work focuses on the global contours of 20th century Black radicalism and he teaches courses on the African diaspora, documentary film, Black popular culture, and social movements. A native of Los Angeles, California, Wilkins has held tenured track appointments at Syracuse University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds a Ph.D. in History from New York University and is currently completing a manuscript that explores the politics of African liberation solidarity activity in the United States and beyond from 1957 to 1980. Wilkins’ work is principally concerned with the global contours of Black radicalism during the heady days of Black Power. He is co-editor with Michael O. West and William G. Martin of From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International Since The Age of Revolution and his scholarly work has appeared in edited collections, The Journal of African American History and Radical History Review. In addition to his scholarly interests Wilkins is a photographer, DJ and avid snowboarder who lives for the outdoors.

John Jennings

John Jennings is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and a Cooperating Faculty Member in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. His work centers around intersectional narratives regarding identity politics and popular media. Jennings is co-editor of the Eisner Award-winning essay collection The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art and co-founder/organizer of The Schomburg Center’s Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem. He is co-founder and organizer of the MLK NorCal’s Black Comix Arts Festival in San Francisco and also SOL-CON: The Brown and Black Comix Expo at the Ohio State University. Jennings sits on the editorial advisory boards for The Black Scholar and the new Ohio State Press imprint New Suns: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Speculative. He was a  Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow at the Hutchins Center, Harvard University in spring 2017. Below are some illustrations John designed for the forthcoming book: Made You Look: The History of the H2O International Film Festival. Check out more art:

Mary Fogarty

Mary Fogarty is an Associate Professor of Dance at York University (Toronto) although her PhD was awarded by a music department (Edinburgh University). She did her MA in Popular Culture and a BA (Honours) in Film Studies. All the way through her graduate studies she researched breaking, the original dance of Hip-Hop culture. Her first academic appointment was as Lecturer at the University of East London where she taught for two years while finishing her dissertation before heading back to Canada in 2011 to begin her current job. (She is on sabbatical for the academic year 2017-2018). Recently, Mary co-edited Movies, Moves and Music: The Sonic World of Dance Films (2016). She also has chapters in The Routledge Reader on the Sociology of Music (2015), The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen (2014), and Ageing and Youth Cultures: Music, Style and Identity (2012).  Her current academic projects include a collaborative book project with Ken Swift, one of the most influential B-Boys on the planet, and she is co-editing The [Oxford] Handbook of Hip-Hop Dance Studies (forthcoming) that includes chapters by dance practitioners as well as academics. She is currently the North American Chair of PoP Moves, a research group that began in the UK devoted to the study of popular dance that she helped to co-found, and has recently joined the editorial board of the IASPM journal. As a B-Girl, she is a member of KeepRockinYou, a community-focused arts collective that has organized five seasons of the Toronto B-Girl Movement, an educational program for the empowerment of females in Hip-Hop culture.

Monica Amaral

Monica Amaral is Associate Professor of Psychoanalysis, Education and Culture at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She is coordinator of the public policy research project “The Ancestral and the Contemporary in Schools: Recognition and Affirmation of Afro-Brazilian Histories and Cultures,” and works as the coordinator for the Multiculturalism and Education research group at the Brazilian National Center for Scientific Research. Her publications include O espectro de Narciso na modernidade: de Freud a Adorno (The Narcissus Spectrum in Modernity: From Freud to Adorno), and O hip-hop e as diásporas africanas na modernidade: uma discussão contemporânea sobre cultura e educação (The Hip-Hop and African Diasporas in Modernity: A Contemporary Discussion of Culture and Education), published by Alameda Casa Editorial in 2015. Her upcoming book O que o rap diz e a escola contradiz: um estudo sobre a arte de rua e a formação da juventude na periferia de São Paulo (What Rap Says and School Contradicts: A Study Of Street Art and the Formation of Youth in the Outskirts of São Paulo) has been approved for publication by Alameda Editorial.