Sep 29, 2019—Jan 19, 2020
Studio Museum 127, 429 W. 127th St.
On view at Studio Museum 127, Harlem Postcards is an ongoing project that invites contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds to reflect on Harlem as a site of cultural activity, political vitality, visual stimuli, artistic contemplation and creative production. Representing intimate and dynamic perspectives of Harlem, the images reflect the idiosyncratic visions of contemporary artists from a wide range of backgrounds and locations. Each photograph has been reproduced as a limited edition postcard available free to visitors. This season, the featured artists include Alex Harsley, Maia Ruth Lee, Joshua Woods, and Lachell Workman.
Harlem Postcards Fall 2019 is organized by Yelena Keller, Curatorial Assistant, Exhibitions.
We came to remember. To look back. To substantiate, give proof to, the existence of the past and the movement of time. Some of these locations hold hidden lineages, work places of Harlem artists: the nail salon where David Hammons lived and worked, the empty lot where Al Sharpton's church burned down in 2005 and still lays empty. Art installations on the Lexington Ave train by Artist Terry Adkins and the mural by Luis Delsarte that was almost covered up by the shoe store but finally restored again after public outrage. Others are reflections through the mirror of time, of images I captured when I was growing up in the area and just stretching my camera skills in the late 50s. Through the 80s I also made frequent trips documenting other artists and projects such as those at Studio Museum. My favorite frequenting was the Father's Day Bike Race around Marcus Garvey Park, which started in the 80s and continues through today.
I used the wide angle lens to capture the increasing verticality of Harlem. Harlem needs a wide perspective to take in the full juxtaposition of stories and histories. Thinking about the concept of a postcard; a small segmented view but without chopping anything out. I wanted the sky, the sky with the people of Harlem, underneath, going about their daily travels and business.
Soft feet have never treaded the earth
Earth has never been treaded with soft feet
Soft earth has never been treaded with feet
Feet have never treaded this soft earth
Harlem my home. Uptown Rucker Park a place where many epic basketball battles have taken place. Many celebrity figures have shown up to watch the biggest hoop stars local and global put on a show. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on this court. In this image I wanted to showcase another side of the neighborhood where kids are just being kids. Many ball players have touched the floor for the first time with high hopes to perform well on the court. Equally the playground acts as the same for a little girl in hopes to finally ride her bike for the first time without her training wheels.
The dichotomy of populated sidewalks and empty stoops creates a sense of spatial wonder around the shifting notion of ‘Home’ within the ever-changing landscape of New York City. Peering into each brownstone doorway I wondered how long the people living inside may have called Harlem ‘Home’. Moreover, I wondered about the many words, memories, and histories they may employ to describe Harlem as their home.
Devoid of people the glass surfaces within these photographs reflect an external view of Harlem's landscape while also revealing signs of human activity within their interior spaces. Windows, doorways, and storefronts adorned with signage, collectibles, faded posters, and pictures strike me as material traces a distinct Harlem archive, a public archive of persistence.
Citi. Proud Sponsor of Harlem Postcards. Proud Sponsor of Progress