At the cross section of 139th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd. in Harlem, Gallery 8 prompts a second look with its floor to ceiling glass windows that tease passersby.
In its second show within the space FACTION Art Projects pays homage to the area, turning its lens inward to mainly highlight artists of color who live and work above 110th Street.
A stone throw away from Strivers’ Row, an affluent black enclave during the area’s renaissance in the 1920s and 30s, Harlem Perspectives is a fitting nod to the neighborhood.
The show features a mix of range of work spanning painting and mix media, at turns both personal and political.
Renee Cox, known for elevating black womanhood and dismantling stereotypes, re-imagines the signing of the Declaration of Independence in The Signing. Replacing Thomas Jefferson and fellow delegates with a tableau of black people from across time periods stretching from the colonial era to the modern day, it is one of the show’s most evocative pieces and reminder of the fight for minorities to have a seat and more importantly voice at the table. Harlem Perspectives runs through May 13th.
In a moment when gentrification is diminishing and prompting the outright erasure of the influence of communities of color, the show is a reminder of the continued contributions of the area's artistic community.
Harlem Perspectives, which runs through May 13, also features work from Lina Puerta, Elizabeth Colomba, Pepe Coronado, Stan Squirewell, Elaine Reichek, David Shrobe, Virginia Inés Vergara, Jaime Permuth and Leeza Meksin.
“I realize there are much more pressing issues than people opening an art gallery in Harlem— there’s gentrification,” Richard Scarry, co-curator of FACTION Art Projects, told The Daily Beast during a recent visit to the gallery. “It’s not that we discovered Harlem, it’s just that we believe in this area.”
Scarry continued, “We know Harlem is the pinnacle of African-American culture in America and beyond, if you look back to the Harlem Renaissance in jazz, and music, and fashion and food. But we also know that Harlem is pretty diverse. We live in a world full of flux and motion and a lot of artists are talking about the diaspora.”