Harlem Documentary Project

23 images Created 12 Mar 2020

I embarked upon this personal photography project specifically because of the global phenomenon of gentrication that, of course, is having its ongoing effect on my native Harlem community—and my sensitivity to how it is has impacted individual lives, its culture and social cohesion. Began in 2008, I photographed this community as comprehensibly as possible through its events, activities, organizations, businesses and personages. Given my being born and lived most of my life here, afforded their trust that I would not use their images for financial gain or exploitation.

Of cardinal importance in this project is my love of my community and disdain for outsiders who have come to photograph Harlem as a ghetto, where the focus was Black misery or the stereotype, an equal bane. While it may be true, that many low-income communities are havens for crime, substance abuse, poverty, failing schools and ill health, and Harlem is no less spared. But I chose to concentrate on the majority of this community that is largely of working class people who strive daily to survive. My photographs seek to portray its people as varied, unadorned, and relaxed in this environment for many who may have not seen these qualitative aspects of this community before. The project is entitled: Harlem: Hidden in Plain Sight.

The project has gained recognition in two venerable Harlem institutions: I have 6 photographs in the permanent collection in the Shomburg Library and, 4 photographs in the Studio Museum Harlem book, Harlem: A Century in Images. My hope is that my archive of over 70,000 photographs will be preserved in a reputable institution that will appreciate its historic value for scholars and researchers of Harlem. Prior to or in conjunction with, my goal is a book, solo exhibition and gallery representation.
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