By Margherite Cermak
Photographer Ryan Brooks has explored more ends of the world and humanity in the last few years than most of us will unfold in a lifetime. From capturing the rawest of moments along side the homeless residing on the streets of Paterson, New Jersey, to helping change the structure of life for members of a rural farming village within the Caribbean as a member of the Peace Corps, Mr. Brooks has witnessed light in darkness, and happiness in agony.
Upon returning to the US from his humanitarian travels, Brooks planted his feet in the ground and asked himself- what do I want to work on? With a few ideas wrapped around his fingers, meshed with his intense excitement to hit the streets of New York he decided to entertain his long time interest in graffiti and aerosol art. Eager to seriously explore the scene, Ryan began researching and asking around and was repeatedly pointed in the direction of 5 Pointz. “I learned rather quickly that Meres is the PR person for NYC graffiti” Brooks says.
With no reason not to he headed out to Long Island City where, for the first time, he was introduced to the awe-inspiring structure of 5 Pointz and the man behind the walls. “I met Meres and told him I wanted to work on a documentary project highlighting the individual personalities in the graffiti community. I showed him my work from the Caribbean and he invited me in”. Shocked but inspired by the warmth of this tight but colossal community Brooks worked his way in and earned their trust. After photographing him for several months throughout the NYC area, he went on to join Meres on a trip out to LA documenting his entire journey. Like always, Jonathan Meres Cohen was painting non-stop, this time as part of communities brand new to him as if he had been there all along.
The exchange of energy mixed with Cohen’s openness made the experience simply fantastic for everyone involved. Straight from the airport this duo joined local writers to paint and the instantaneous creativity continued all day everyday until they came home. “He made the most of every second meeting with other writers, galley owners even people from Universal Studios – always in his element yet totally out of his element” as Brooks describes the 5 Pointz curator. “This unique community was super tight and was shockingly similar to what he had helped foster back home in Long Island City.” he compares the west-coast atmosphere to that of 5 Pointz.
Ryan’s contribution to the preservation of 5 Pointz and the historical masterpieces it contains is immeasurable in value. By photographing Meres, the face of 5 Pointz, Ryan has taken part in an important and effective way of preserving and building the art form. While some will criticize Meres and those who stand by him for being so public with their pursuits, “he is providing a vital service to the graffiti movement by fostering community, understanding and growth.” Ryan Brooks proves to be an active supporter and a loyal friend to 5 Pointz; for that we thank him.
Published at: 5Ptz.com