We Found Us

Expanding the Walls 2019

Sixx Teague, EMPOWERMENT, 2019. Digital chromogenic print, Courtesy the artist

Jul 19Aug 30, 2019

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave., New York

We Found Us: Expanding the Walls 2019 presents work by the fifteen artists in the 2018–19 cohort of Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community, an annual, eight-month residency at The Studio Museum in Harlem in which New York City–area high school participants explore the history and techniques of photography. 

This exhibition reflects on the personal and collective development of the artists and captures what they find significant in their daily lives. It demonstrates their shared interest in storytelling, technical experimentation, and the possibilities of photography as a channel for expression. We Found Us is a declaration born as the artists, grappling with themes of selfhood and community, found new perspectives on the world through their cameras and one another. Each artist takes command of their own narrative and shows us what we otherwise would not see.

Since the founding of the Expanding the Walls program in 2000, the archive of the Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee (1886–1983)—housed at the Studio Museum—has served as the primary catalyst for the participants’ critical reflections on the representation of culture and community. Selections from the archive are on view alongside the works, which place a contemporary lens on Van Der Zee’s visual commentary on community, history, and representation. (A number of photographs by Van Der Zee are also in The Met collection.)

We Found Us: Expanding the Walls 2019 is organized by Alex Adams, Curatorial Fellow, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Mia Matthias, joint Curatorial Fellows at The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Museum of Modern Art, with Ginny Huo, Senior Coordinator, Teen Programs, and the 2018–19 Expanding the Walls participants. Special thanks to photographer and educator Isaac Diggs for his mentorship and continued support of the program.

The exhibition is presented in partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Studio Museum in Harlem would like to thank The Met for generously hosting this exhibition in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education during construction of the Studio Museum’s new building.

Expanding the Walls is made possible with support from The Keith Haring Foundation Education Fund; Conscious Kids; New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; Joy of Giving Something; and Colgate-Palmolive. Additional support for The Studio Museum in Harlem’s education programs is provided by the Thompson Foundation Education Fund; Gray Foundation; Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts; Con Edison; and the Hearst Endowment Fund.

The Studio Museum in Harlem is deeply grateful for Donna Mussenden Van Der Zee’s continued support of Expanding the Walls.

We Found Us: Expanding the Walls 2019 is on view in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Enter through the street-level entrance at Fifth Avenue and 81st Street.

Admission to the exhibition is free. For information on hours, please visit metmuseum.org.