The Artist Gardener NYC, a public art program that brings artists and public green spaces together to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art, announces its third annual outdoor exhibition, “Echoes in Harlem.” Curated by artist and co-founder of the program, Natsuki Takauji, the exhibition will feature works by four artists and will be on view July 16th - October 1st at the West 132nd Street Community Garden, in the heart of West Harlem.
“Echoes in Harlem” takes as a starting point the theme of tangible or intangible traces left in the Harlem community through personal or historical experiences. Through site-specific artworks created for this exhibition by Morgen Christie, Sarah E.Brook, Linda Ganjian, and Yvonne Shortt, it explores the bridges between now and then using personal or communal points of view that resonate with the West Harlem Community Garden on 132nd Street or the Harlem community at large. A series of public events including an art workshop and sound and video performances are planned for the duration of the exhibition.
“Inheritance” by Morgen Christie is an ode to the Harlem Renaissance. The artist reimagined the garden as a sort of burial ground, picturing women buried in their finest jewelry, and musicians forever preserved with their string instruments. Synthetic hair was used to humanize the structure but also to act as a type of fertilizer. Assembled onto tomato cages, the materials form an obelisk-like structure. Directly behind the monument is a projection of an abstracted sphere, representative of the moon and sun highlighting the passing time. Each month during the exhibition, the artist will perform a different video and sound projection after sunset. (Please see the event dates.)
Sarah E. Brook’s "from holy wood, for now" is a site-specific installation that consists of reflective windows to remind viewers to engage all possible methods of perception. The reflections across the garden centering on a crepe myrtle tree correspond to the artist's interest in expanding the sense of presence through the relation between spatial, visual, physiological and emotional perception.
Linda Ganjian’s “Voices from the Garden” features excerpts from informal interviews conducted with individuals who volunteer at the garden, from one of the original directors to teenage interns. Each presented anonymously, together the statements form a narrative, which hints on the history of the garden, natural occurrences, and, most importantly, the meaning of the garden to an individual and the community. Like signposts, the statements are integrated into the landscape of the garden, reminding us of the human efforts and passions behind the natural beauty.
Yvonne Shortt, whose grandparents moved to Harlem from Georgia, created two sculptures for this exhibition. “Comfort Objects: Number 1” was inspired by her husband’s comfort object, a 60-year-old stuffed bear in need of a little filling. It is mending itself while holding a burlap blanket, the comfort object of the artist’s grandmother, passed in her family over generations. Comfort objects symbolize the act of care we give and receive.
“Emerging” was inspired by the pond in the garden, capturing the significant moment of a young woman of color emerging from water into air. The artist aims to portray the spirit of the community instead of a specific person using as an inspiration a series of photos of people of color that she’s taken in the neighborhood.
Opening Reception: July 16th: 3-8:00 pm (video/sound performance “Inheritance” will begin at sunset)
Closing Reception: October 1st: 3-8:00 pm (video/sound performance “Inheritance” will begin at sunset)
Other dates for the video/sound performance “Inheritance”: August 20th, and September 17th. It will begin at sunset.
About the curator
Natsuki Takauji was born in Tokyo, Japan, currently lives and works in NYC. She is an interdisciplinary visual artist; an instructor of Metal Sculpture at The Art Students League of New York where she also leads the Works In Public -Model to Monument- public sculpture program; a co-founder of The Artist Gardener NYC to activate the local communities through art and educational programs in the gardens across NYC; and a director of Metal Sculptures at Sculptors Alliance, Inc. for which she has curated exhibitions: "METAL" at Governors Island, NYC in 2017 and a virtual exhibition “Flux -Vita Mutata-” in 2020. She co-curated an exhibition “Uncontested” at Lithuanian Alliance of America, NYC, in 2022. She has shown her artworks in New York, New Jersey, Florida (USA), Ontario (Canada), Venice (Italy), Kyoto, Mie (Japan), and Seoul (Korea). www.natsukitakauji.com, IG: @natsukiuji.
108-114 W 132nd Street
West 132nd Street Community Garden
Harlem, New York
About The Artist Gardener NYC
About The Program: “The Artist Gardener NYC” West 132nd Street Community Garden 108-114 W 132nd Street, New York, NY 10027 The Artist Gardener (TAG) NYC is a public art program that brings artists and public green spaces together to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art. It started as a sculpture exhibition “Encircle” in 2020, with the purpose of providing a relief and safe escape from quarantine to West Harlem residents. The exhibition’s success highlighted the need for a continuing program to support artists and green spaces; with support from the community and a grant from Partnerships for Parks in 2021, The Artist Gardener (TAG) NYC program was born. The program is committed to developing and bringing annual events to NYC community gardens such as exhibitions, workshops, performances, and educational activities, in order to promote cultural exchange and sustainability. TAG welcomes passionate people who want to share their knowledge, skills, or projects with the community gardens, and help to sustain and preserve green spaces. The program also includes an annual Open Call to artists to participate in the exhibitions; artists will be selected by the TAG, guest curators, and the garden staff. Co-founders: Francine Rogers, Aubrey Jackson, Bruna D’Allesandro, Haksul Lee, Natsuki Takauji, and Shantel Rose Miller.