The Studio Museum’s Expanding the Walls program, founded in 2001, is a photography-based residency for young emerging artists enrolled in high schools or equivalent programs in New York City, providing them with workshops with a diverse group of arts professionals, intensive instruction in the techniques of digital photography, opportunities to build community and a culminating exhibition. Each eight-month residency is based on the young artists’ investigation of the work of James VanDerZee (1886–1983), the iconic chronicler of Harlem life, whose archives are housed at the Studio Museum.
The fifteen young artists in the 2015–16 program took an interest in particular methods of VanDerZee’s practice, such as his use of hyperreal studio backdrops and etching notes on his negatives. They were also drawn to the performative and conceptual strategies of other photographers, including Xaviera Simmons, Christina de Middel, Miguel Luciano and Roy DeCarava. The resulting exhibition, Color in Shadow, reflects the young artists’ fascination with these formal aspects of photography, while also testifying to their close attention to the nuances of visual life in Harlem and other New York City neighborhoods.
Color in Shadow: Expanding the Walls 2016 is organized by the 2016 Expanding the Walls participants with Gerald L. Leavell II, Expanding the Walls/Youth Programs Coordinator, Adeze Wilford, Curatorial Fellow and Doris Zhao, Curatorial Assistant.