Hold These Truths

November 13, 2017 - March 14, 2018

NLE Lab: Southeast Queens Biennial

February 9 - April 21, 2018

Bayeté Ross Smith


Harlem Contemporary, 2014
Photographs, audio installation.

Growing out of a similar project that the artist conducted in West Baltimore in 2011, Harlem Contemporary is a visual-auditory installation that chronicles the untold stories of this Harlem community. Consisting of photographic portraits and recorded oral histories mixed with accompanying musical and oral sound tracks, the piece features the neighborhood’s longest residents as well as its many contributors and strongest personalities. 

As portraits of this stature have traditionally been linked to politicians and public figures, the components of Harlem Contemporary valorize the role of the everyday individual, bringing their features and personal histories to the forefront. Acknowledging the profoundly significant space that Sugar Hill occupies within the history of the Harlem Renaissance, this piece extends that foundation into the contemporary sphere, ultimately allowing for a recognition and memorialization of the cultural legacy that Sugar Hill continues to cultivate. 

Pictured: Lana Turner, Harlem native; Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Kelvyn Bell, musician and original member of the Black Rock coalition. Images courtesy of the artist.