New York, NY July 9, 2019 – From July 19, 2019 through August 30, 2019, We Found Us: Expanding the Walls 2019 will present work by the fifteen artists in the 2018–19 cohort of The Studio Museum in Harlem's annual residency program Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community. During their eight months in the program, the partcipants from New York City–area high schools explore the history and techniques of photography. We Found Us will be on view in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education while the Studio Museum constructs a new building on the site of their longtime home on West 125th Street.
We Found Us reflects on the personal and collective development of the fifteen artists in this year's program, capturing what they find significant in their daily lives. The exhibition 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, found new perspectives on the world through their cameras and one another. The artists are: Aisha Hashmi, Anthony Trowner, Sixx Teague, Belen Vanesa Bautista, Bryam Franco, Charles Etuk, David Mills, Kenny Peña, Leila Annah Fuentes, Michelle Morocho, Sadia Zaman, Saiida Powell, Skye Mayo, Emmanuel Lugo, and Steeve Hedouville.
Each artist takes command of their own narrative and shows us what we otherwise would not see. We Found Us is a testament to their attention to visual life in New York City communities and is the culmination of months of art making, social critique, and museum education.
Established in 2001, Expanding the Walls helps participants explore and define their artistic practices while building community through workshops, gallery visits, intensive darkroom training, and discussions led by contemporary artists. The archive of photographer James VanDerZee (1886–1983), which is housed at the Studio Museum, serves as a primary catalyst for the students’ critical reflections on the representation of culture and community.
Selections from the VanDerZee archive are on view alongside the participants’ works, which place a contemporary lens on VanDerZee’s visual commentary on community, history, and representation. Like VanDerZee, many of the participants chose to record the people, places, and experiences they find important to preserve for the future.
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 professor Isaac Diggs for his mentorship The School of Visual Arts for their continued support of the program.
The annual Expanding the Walls exhibition is presented for a second year in a row 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 VanDerZee’s continued support of Expanding the Walls.