Throughout the twentieth century, Harlem has been regarded as a beacon of African American history and culture. Sites such as the Apollo Theater, Abyssinian Baptist Church, and Malcolm X Corner at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue serve as popular postcard images that represent significant places and moments in this community. Today, Harlem continues to evolve as a center of historic and cultural activity. Changes are witnessed by its residents daily and experienced by tourists and visitors from all over the world. Harlem Postcards, an ongoing project, 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 each artist’s oeuvre in an idiosyncratic snapshot taken in, of, or about Harlem. Each photograph has been reproduced as a limited-edition postcard available free to visitors.

This season, we are pleased to feature postcard images created by Cheng-Jui Chiang, João Onofre, Valeska Soares and Brooke Williams.

Cheng-Jui Chiang

Junction, 2007

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My photographs, taken in black and white with a 35 mm camera, are a way for me to express myself. These photographs focus on architectural and structural imagery, and synthesize various elements of my surroundings and my community. I find it interesting to work with architectural structure, which allows me to apply different combinations of shape, line, texture, space and pattern to capture viewers’ attention and present the beauty of my environment. I hope to invite viewers to see their own surroundings with a different perspective and to learn to appreciate the beauty of the everyday.

Expanding the Walls participant, born 1988 St. John’s Preparatory School, Queens, NY

Brooke Williams

Hands, 2007

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I have always been interested in people’s hands as indicators of who they are and how they express themselves. So much can be learned from hands, which tend to be honest windows into what people have been through. Hands are also the tools through which we as human beings make our most simple and profound connections to each other and the world. This particular piece is a diary of sorts—a record of the people with whom I recently interacted on a beautiful spring day in Harlem (Wednesday, May 30, to be exact). A shopkeeper, a chef, a hairdresser and a security guard all held their hands out to be photographed. These images confirm the physical presences of these people and affirm the important part they play in making up the extraordinary community that is Harlem.

Born 1966, Washington, D.C. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY

João Onofre

Untitled (bliss version), 2007

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This photograph is a remake of Ed Ruscha’s classic 1967 Artforum ad: Ed Ruscha says Goodbye to College Joys. The updated version was staged in a Victorian townhouse located in Harlem’s historic Sugar Hill district.

Born 1976, Lisbon, Portugal
Lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal

Valeska Soares

Calling card, 2007

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Born 1957, Belo Horizonte, Brazil Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY