As one of the featured artists in Studio 323 New York’s opening exhibition, George “SEN” Morillo, author of one of the most globally invoked Graffiti names, fuses his distinctly urban style with the unique creations of Jonathan Chánduví. A native of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Morillo brings the graffiti styles, techniques, and designs learned in his youth to life on the canvas. With the streets and voices of New York and urban culture as his inspiration, Morillo’s work provides a striking and yet complementary tone to Chánduví’s pieces synthesized from both Old World and contemporary art forms.
A native of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, George “SEN” Morillo was born into the tumultuous environment of New York City during the late 70s and 80s. As a result of failing social systems, Morillo and other youths of this time turned to their own devices for survival and education from which the hip hop culture of the 1980s was born. As this subculture extended its reach, graffiti became the iconic image worldwide for the hip hop revolution springing forth from the urban landscape of New York City. Morillo had been writing since 1980 and in 1982 joined the Incredible Bombing Masters (IBM), a crew with fresh and unique styles, nurtured by graffiti masters of the past. When hip hop exploded into international popular culture, Morillo gained notoriety at a young age when he appeared in the music video for “Planet Rock” by Zulu Nation and after being featured in a live art show commissioned by photographer Richard Avedon in 1984.
In the mid and late 1980s, hip hop culture and graffiti were irrevocably altered. The spread of crack cocaine throughout the city caused the already present social tensions and violence to escalate. Laws against the sale of aerosol paint to minors and more severe punishments for graffiti were enacted, especially in the case of the MTA subway trains. Like many others, Morillo had to adapt to the changing face of New York City and from this his current art form was created.
Since his days with IBM, Morillo has continued to produce graffiti only now his work finds itself on the canvas in the world of fine arts. In addition to portraying his history in the urban and hip hop worlds through painting, Morillo is currently working with designer Rachel Roy and the New York Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire to create a clothing line due to hit stores in Fall 2011. Morillo also works with Goddard Riverside Community Centers Beacon Program teaching graffiti art classes to young adults and children.