Join The Launch Of The Second “Harlem Is… Healing” Outdoor Exhibit In Harlem

April 17, 2023

Community Works NYC proudly announces a second, larger-than-life “Harlem is . . . Healing” Outdoor Exhibition in Harlem.

The exhibit will take place at St. Nicholas Avenue at 120th Street in Harlem opening on May 5 and be available through August 1, 2023. 

In April, 2020, we launched a campaign to highlight local heroes responding to the coronavirus pandemic, posting tributes on social media. Sadly, the need didn’t end quickly. Indeed, by now we have posted 52 tributes as the work they promote continues through turmoil toward social justice and economic pressures. These celebrations of neighbors helping neighbors have been featured on social media, on our website at, and on a Youtube channel, as well as in this year’s physical exhibit.  

Our sidewalk display once again will highlight nine local heroes who reflect diversity from all walks of life, people who have continued to contribute to community health through medical and mental health services, with food and teaching about urban farming, through the arts, faith, and youth activities, or in direct support to neighbors.

The exhibit by Community Works NYC / New Heritage Theatre Group in partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation’s Art Program (DOT Art) features powerful images of nine of 52 honorees taken by noted Harlem photographer Tau Battice with bold design by Clara Alonso.  

As Barbara Horowitz, Founder and President of Community Works said, “We have been part of a collective trauma, and we are emerging from it through the enormous work of our honorees.” Voza Rivers, Executive Producer, New Heritage Theatre Group, said, “In this harrowing time, it becomes even more important to remind ourselves of how local heroes can make a difference.”

Response to the exhibit of the first nine honorees was so strong that the city extended the display through May and invited a second round to remain on display through August. 

On May 15, we will be arranging a historic community celebration at the site to mark the opening, complete with a marching band that will take visitors four blocks to First Baptist Corinthian Church on 116th Street. The opening will kick off arrangements for guided tours of the exhibit along with short walking tours for teachers, students, community groups and visitors.

The exhibit honorees highlight the contributions of well-known restaurateur 

Melba Wilson, who kept people working and was able to feed first responders, and Janet Rodriguez, whose SoHarlem Collective saw a chance for seamstress skills to produce protective masks and clothing. Tony Hillery seized the opportunity to teach urban farming skills, while Dr. Lena Green has been able to provide free mental health services.

The full list of honorees includes:

  • Vy Higginsen, Executive Director, Mama Foundation for the Arts
  • Janet Rodriguez, Founder and CEO, SoHarlem Collective
  • Melba Wilson, restauranteur, President NYC Hospitality Alliance
  • Aurora Flores, Cultural Activist, Journalist, Band Leader
  • Rhina Valentin, TV Host, Actor, Activist, Producer
  • Dr. Lena Green, social worker and Executive Director, Hope Center 
  • Tony Hillery, Founder and CEO, Harlem Grown
  • Phyllis and Dodji Gbedemah, owners, Kente Royal Art Gallery
  • M. Scott Johnson, Sculptor, Artist, Arts Educator

Healing Harlem is the continuing theme of this campaign, and more broadly for Community Works NYC and New Heritage Theatre Group who for 20 years have sought to connect neighborhoods through the arts and education. 

As the pandemic grew, so did efforts towards healing, and the campaign to recognize those local heroes through social media posts, on its website, , through video dialogues at and with this outdoor exhibit. Harlem is . . . Healing project is an extension of Community Works’ 32-year mission to connect neighborhoods.

Support for photography and public programming provided by Con Edison. The Harlem is . . . program is dedicated to the memory of Community Works’ Board Chairman Michael Davidson.

Limited free group tour information and additional photos are available by email to

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