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TRACY168

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TRACY 168  - Youth

Michael Tracy, AKA TRACY168,
one of the original creators of the art form called "graffiti," studied at the institute of Higher Learning, better known as the Lexington I.R.T. His canvas was the subway car and his pallet various cans of spray paint.

TRACY 168  - A Train

"The best year for graffiti was 1973," he ruminates. "Styles were coming out. We got into this thing with colors. First it was two colors, then three colors, then four. What makes me a powerful artist, " he states, " is that my paintings are alive, strong and very bright. The color combos make it. Balance: each color as strong as it is enhances the color beside it, going back and forth. Giving style and balance and movement, that is what makes a good artist."

"After the colors," TRACY 168 continues, "the challenge became who could do the biggest piece, the wildest. Then it was top-to-bottom, whole car, whole train. We worked on clouds and flames. We got into lettering. Everybody was trying to develop their own technique. When I would go into a yard (train), the first thing I would do is look around and see who was good. That would be my objective. To burn the best writer in the yard, and I wouldn't leave until I did something better than him."

Because of these types of beginnings, most street graffiti was based on the macho culture of competition. How long will you take to do a car before you get caught? How big can you write your name? It was fueled by a rage against a society which didn't care about its kids. It was a form of communication and a way to gain recognition outside of community. It was perceived as the only way to escape the ghetto, and to become known and recognized in faraway places, like Brooklyn.

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The Story Part II

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