Past

Represented, revered and recognized by people around the world, Harlem is a continually expanding nexus of black culture, history and iconography. Venerable landmarks such as the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Apollo Theater, Hotel Theresa, Audubon Ballroom and 125th Street remain popular emblems of important historic moments and moods. The Studio Museum’s ongoing series, Harlem Postcards, invites contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds to reflect on Harlem as a site for artistic contemplation and production. Installed in the Museum lobby and available to visitors, Harlem Postcards presents intimate views and fresh perspectives on this famous neighborhood. This season we feature images by James Casebere, Dominic McGill, Jessica Rankin and Katy Schimert.

Dominic McGill

Jesus Saves, 2006

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In 1960, Fidel Castro scored a significant PR Victory over the Eisenhower administration by checking out of the segregated Waldorf Hotel to stay at the hotel Theresa in Harlem. He returned in 1979 and again in 1995, to speak to the Abyssinian Baptist Church and again in 2000 to speak at the Riverside Church largely addressing issues of World Poverty.

In September 2006 Hugo Chavez addressed the Congregation of Mount Olivet Baptist Church, to "make good on a pledge to help low-income families in New York purchase discounted oil" and as an aside to accuse George Bush of "being the devil in human form."

Considering this history of Harlem Churches as platforms to address the inequalities of American capitalism and the irony of Marxist leaders using the pulpit to do it, I came to Harlem to photograph churches, from the impressive stone towers to the crumbling storefronts and converted theaters.

With over 400 houses of worship, churhes are to Harlem what casinos are to Vegas; both places, in their way, symptomatic of the American condition. However it seems unlikely that Chavez or Castro or anyone else would choose a Las Vegas Casino as the place from which to address World Poverty and Inequality.

Born 1963, Yorkshire, England

Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York

James Casebere

Foyer, 2006

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I walked into the Metropolitan Baptist Church just a couple of blocks from the Studio Museum and took pictures in their foyer.

Born 1953, Lansing, Michigan

Lives and Works in New York City

Jessica Rankin

North Meadow Central Park Harlem, 2006

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at night in the city there are no stars and nature feels very far. the globe of the full moon illuminates the sky and casts shadows in the city. it is our context. it is a reminder of our part in the cosmos. it is the natural world right there in Harlem for each of us to touch.

Born 1971, Sydney Australia Lives and works in Harlem, New York