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 sixteen young artists in the 2016–17 program took an interest in particular methods of VanDerZee’s practice, such as his use of hyperreal studio backdrops, street scenes and etching notes on his negatives. They were also drawn to the performative and conceptual strategies of other photographers, including Devin Allen, Isaac Diggs, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Lorna Simpson. Impressions
reflects the young artists’ fascination and desire to uncover beauty in overlooked places and histories with formal aspects of photography. The works are a testament to their close attention to the nuances of visual life in Harlem and other New York City neighborhoods as well as social life, the bonds of family and various communities.
Impressions: Expanding the Walls 2017
is organized by Doris Zhao, Curatorial Assistant with Ginny Huo, Expanding the Walls/Youth Programs Coordinator.