The Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture, Howard Dodson, Director, presents the New Harlem Renaissance Photographers Exhibition, “Harlem Views/Diasporan Visions”. The exhibition opened February 1, and runs through June 30. The Schomburg Center is located at 515 Malcolm X Blvd at 135th Street, New York City. The hours are 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. There is no charge for admission. The inaugural exhibition for the New Harlem Renaissance Photographers represents the work of 23 photographers, their vision, interest and eyes for photographing many aspects of Harlem and the Diaspora. The exhibit is funded in part by New York State Senator Bill Perkins (D- 30th District) and is curated by Mary F. Yearwood and Deborah Willis.
The multifaceted photographic exhibition is a gem, reflecting a plethora of colors, textures and images. The 23 photographers in the show are Kenneth Bazemore, Kwame Brathwaite, Jimbe’ Carroll, Howard T. Cash, Juanita M. Prince Cole, Karl Crutchfield, Mamadou Lamine Dabo, Isseu Diouf, Lisa DuBois, Ronald Herard, Hakim Mutlaq Inniss, Burroughs Lamar, Bill Moore, Lance Ramsey, Tyrone Rasheed, Jewel Shears, Kenya L. Smith, Klytus Smith, Beverly Terry, Azim Nadir Thomas, June DeLairre Truesdale, Shawn W. Walker, and E. Lee White.
When speaking with photographer, Jewel Shears, about the show, she stated, “it means a lot to be a part of an exhibition at the Schomburg, a place known for the works of Langston Hughes, Ruby Dee and so many greats…’She said, “I feel good, I’m impressed with how it has come together…”
I was made aware of the collective of photographers and the exhibition by photographer, Jimbe’ Carroll. He spoke with enthusiasm and passion about an upcoming exhibition at the Schomburg with a collective of photographers, the New Harlem Renaissance Photographers (NHRP). The idea caught my attention and I knew it was one I wanted to see.
On February 26, when I walked into the gallery space, there was a group of elementary and middle school children, I observed them looking at the pictures with fascination and curiosity. As I moved through the show, I too was immersed in the photographs of Harlem and the Diaspora, from the image of Malcolm X in the 1960’s to performance pictures of the Great Ladies of Songs, Aretha, Patty, Eartha and Nancy. There are images of churches in Harlem that have made store fronts into houses of worship; and a black and white picture of the funeral of Amadou Diallo.
Several photographers capture images of the New York City Marathon running through Harlem. There are colorful images from the Caribbean Day Parade, photographs of dancers from the Alvin Alley American Dance Theatre and The Dance Theatre of Harlem; pictures of statutes in Harlem of African-American icons- Mother Clara Hale, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Duke Ellington. There are pictures of children and so much more.
When I asked Jimbe Carroll, why now, the New Harlem Renaissance Photographers? He said, “It was over due…the photographers, we know each other and have similar goals and visions”. He went on to say that, “Senator Bill Perkins got the inspiration to pull photographers together for an exhibition after the passing of a friend, photographer, Eugene “Kwame” Gervin.
I spoke with photographers, Bill Moore and Howard T Cash in the lobby of the Schomburg. I asked Howard T. Cash, why now? He said, “Power…the power of us working together”. Mr. Moore shared incite on taking pictures, “he said a photograph is a moment in time” and “what that image makes you think of”. When I ask both men about technology and photography, Howard stated, “the important thing is the shot, it does not matter how, it’s capturing the shot.” These two accomplished Photo Journalist agreed it was necessary for them to embrace technology. On young people getting involved in photograph, Bill Moore said, “kids can get started by taking pictures of their families”. He added, “That’s how I got started”.
In June, after 26 year of service, Mr. Howard Dodson, Director of the Schomburg will retire. Under his leadership, The Schomburg has become widely known for outstanding exhibitions and programming that involves the community. In addition, Mr. Dodson has expanded the collection substantially and his fundraising efforts has elevated and brought The Schomburg world-wide recognition as a cultural center and Mecca.
In July of this year, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad will succeed, Mr. Dodson as Director of this vast repository of African-American culture. Dr Muhammad, 38 years old, has served as Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University. He is the author of “The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America.” He is the great-grandson of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and his father is the noted Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Ozier Muhammad.
In viewing the exhibition at The Schomburg, I am reminded of a photographer and icon, “The Picture take man”, James Van Der Zee. His gifted eye and innovative style capture images of the Harlem Renaissance. It was my honor to have heard and met Mr. Van Der Zee, at the Frick Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was 96 years old.
The Schomburg presentation of the New Harlem Renaissance Photographers, Exhibition, “Harlem Views/Diasporan Visions”, honors the legacy of Mr. Van Der Zee and other photographers who captured images of the Harlem Renaissance. With this exhibition, the New Harlem Renaissance Photographers have achieved their rightful place in the gallery of this great institution.
Photo credits (top to bottom): Hotel Theresa, by Bill Moore; 3 Princess by Jewel Shears; Funeral For Amadou by Jimbe’ Carroll; Labor Day Sections of the Band by Hakim Matlag; and We Must Have Land by Klytus Smith.
Show continues through June 30th, 2011. Get more information here.