Harlem Haarlem

Harlem Haarlem 

by Johannah Herr

February 27 - March 22, 2014 

On view 24 hrs a day from the window.

chashama 443 Windows Gallery
443 West 127th Street
New York, NY

Exploring traditional patterning as both artifact and conduit, Harlem Haarlem facilitates a dialog between the ethnographic inhabitants that have populated Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood throughout its history. From Lenape beadwork to Delft pottery, English embroidery samplers to Southern Italian ceramics, Synagogue stained glass to the Zebra room and other iconography from the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem Haarlem is a collage of visual signifiers of culture that implore the viewer to understand time and history of a place not as linear entities but rather as living creatures that continue to collect experience and adapt into a contemporary context. This diorama-like mixed-media installation is able to be viewed only through certain areas in the window glass, creating a personal- almost private- experience of the space.


My work is persistently about people -- about the rituals and constructs that bind societies together to form identity, tradition and shared conceptions of homeland.

Perhaps specifically because of my own American heritage, in a country whose cultural construction defies unifying factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, or language, I have always been drawn to cultures that I perceived as more 'congealed' than my own, particularly peoples with a defined visual language of traditional patterns and crafts. Researching and exploring traditional craft around the world therefore plays a large part of my artistic practice, especially within cultures that are facing rapid change due to globalization and trans-national communities that lack a singular nation-state.

Raised in a family of storytellers, I learned early the importance of bearing witness in the face of change and loss, and the power of humor to share in and deal with this hardship. I therefore often use playful and colorful materials to speak of violence, struggle and separation. Spanning many artistic disciplines, the materiality of my work is largely dictated by metaphor, most often using ephemeral materials and installations as metaphor for labor, life, and the fluid nature of cultural adaptation in an ever-globalizing world.

Tags: installation, mixed media, Harlem, chashama 443, 443 W 127th Street
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