When Marc and Sara Schiller began to conceptualize Wooster Collective more than a decade ago, they perhaps never realized that a group dedicated to promoting ephemeral urban art would be such an influential (and enduring) undertaking. This month the Collective, which is named for a street in the SOHO part of NYC, is celebrating ten years of urban art documentation of some of the biggest names in graffiti and street art.
Wooster Collective is an organization that curates art, with a twist: the art is solely of the street variety, and in many cases, is only temporary. With this in mind, the Collective seeks to showcase graffiti, murals, installations, and sometimes illegal works from notorious and unknown street artists, and exists as a sort of living gallery and time capsule of urban works.
Street art has long been contested as a medium existing somewhere between fine art and vandalism, but Wooster Collective stands by its reputation as a nuanced form of artistic expression. Their mission is to “discover and document authentic art experiences via book publishing, salons, lectures, gallery shows, and online,” which the organization has been doing since 2003 when graffiti’s status was truly evolving from its former sole affiliation with gangs and vandalism. At its core Wooster Collective embodies an interesting concept: using traditional forms of art representation to showcase artists and works that exist on the fringe of the art world. It’s a formula that has allotted the Schillers tremendous success, as their curated street art exhibitions and publications have been recognized by leaders in art commentary like The New York Times, the New Museum, and Time Magazine, among others.
Over the last decade, Wooster Collective has published over half a dozen books, organized countless shows and lectures, and now represents nearly one hundred street artists. Among the artists given exposure by the Collective include Logan Hicks, Magmo The Destroyer, Space Invader, Banksy, and Shepard Fairey, the latter of which recently completed a large-scale mural in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood to commemorate Wooster Collective’s 10-year anniversary.
For more information about “10 Years of Wooster Collective,” visit the group’s official website.