Learning to photograph, says U.S. Army veteran Anny Mariano, provides “the constant reminder that there is beauty and art all around me, even in the darkest of times.” Mariano and 22 other veterans who participated in workshops with the Josephine Herrick Project from 2018 through 2022 will showcase their work in an upcoming exhibition, At Ease: Photographs by Military Veterans in New York, held at Morris-Jumel Mansion in Manhattan (just north of Harlem).
For the photographers, the camera became a way of finding new avenues of self-expression and relating to the world around them.
Filtered through their experiences and seen through their lenses, New York becomes a place of peace — even at its most frenetic.
The photographers in this exhibition — Abel Solis, Adam Duncan, Alfredo Garcia, Anny Mariano, Carl Johnson, Cesar J. Martinez Jr., Christopher Sullivan, David McMillan, Dondi McKellar, Ed Ventura, Erik Martinez, Jacob Merino, Jon-Pierre Kelani, Joseph Kosinsky, Levi L. Jeffers, Linda D. Catlett, Michelle Heirs, Owen Davis, Scottie Daniels, Sean M. Fitzthum, Terry Karney, Vernon Hall, and Virginia Goodno — come to photography from a wide variety of experiences.
Since 2018, the Josephine Herrick Project has worked with the Bronx and Harlem Vet Centers (agencies of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) to teach the fundamentals of photography and visual literacy to groups of military veterans, most of whom are survivors of service-related violence.
These images were selected from work produced in these hands-on workshops in New York City, the majority from 2020 through 2021.
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic created a profound sense of physical isolation and loss, these veterans continued to meet online with occasional in-person outdoor sessions.
The work reflects the veterans’ experience, not just of trauma, but of healing and resilience.
“We’re honored to share a selection of the many photographs New York City veterans have made with us in recent years,” says Miriam Leuchter, Executive Director of the Josephine Herrick Project. “To see this work in the context of a historic house with deep military roots gives resonance to the notions of home and history captured in these photographs.”
The exhibition also showcases the work from workshops hosted in collaboration with the Gettysburg Foundation, where over the course of three years, groups of military veterans from New York were brought to the historic site to explore the battle site while reflecting on their own internal sense of aftermath.
The exhibition will be on view from June 16 – September 11, 2022, during the museum’s public hours, Friday to Sunday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
There will be a free Community Open House on Saturday, June 18 from 1–3 PM at Morris-Jumel Mansion.
In addition, teaching artists from the Josephine Herrick Project will provide a special summer photography workshop series at the Mansion for children ages 8 through 12 from July 18–20, 2022.
For tickets, information, and exhibition events, visit www.morrisjumel.org/current-exhibition.
At Ease: Photographs by Military Veterans in New York is organized by the Josephine Herrick Project in collaboration with Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum.
This exhibition was made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development in partnership with the City Council. Major private support came from the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.
Josephine Herrick Project
Making photographs transforms people’s lives. For eight decades, the Josephine Herrick Project (JHP) has done just that. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in New York City, it teaches photography to and exhibits work by people from a broad range of under-resourced communities.
JHP’s program participants include children in culturally diverse and low-income neighborhoods; immigrant and refugee teens; youth and adults with cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities; military veterans; vulnerable seniors; and people of all ages living in public housing.
The organization shows their photography in public spaces and places, including cafes, libraries, galleries, streets, and parks—both in the communities where they live, study, or work and outside their neighborhoods, where they may draw larger, more diverse audiences to their work.
As Manhattan’s oldest surviving residence, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, built in 1765, preserves, collects, and interprets history, culture, and the arts to explore inclusive narratives that engage and inspire diverse audiences.
As one of the nation’s foremost historic house museums, the organization empowers audiences to create relevant contemporary connections to the histories of the Mansion, its collections, the land, and its people, past and present.
The museum is open to the public and welcomes visitors for site tours, programs, and community events throughout the year.
More information can be found at www.morrisjumel.org
Photo credit: 1) Dondi McKellar Forward Thinker Emancipation Proclamation Black Lives Matter_2017. 2) Terry Karney The Things We Carried 2019. 3) Jacob Merino – Second Pillar_2021.