Seward & Kissel LLP Partners With Harlem School Of The Arts In Harlem

March 5, 2024

by Sam Mattingly and the team from Baretz Brunelle

On a beautiful afternoon in New York’s Battery Park offices of Seward & Kissel LLP, a group of students from the Harlem School of the Arts along with staff members from the prestigious law firm gathered for the installation of a unique exhibition.

Steven Nadel, a partner, and head of the culture committee at Seward & Kissel generated an idea for an event that would celebrate Black History Month and would have a lasting impact.

“I had heard about this very famous art school in Harlem, googled it, and found the Harlem School of the Arts. When I called AK Lovelace (Chair of the Media & Design Department), he thought I was crazy when I pitched him the idea.”  And indeed, AK Lovelace later confessed.  “I didn’t know what to make of the call.  I really thought someone was pulling my leg.”  But as he soon came to realize, Steven was very serious.


 The call turned out to be an invitation to collaborate around something meaningful – an exhibition that would become a platform to display the works of a group of very talented young artists throughout the month of February and to possibly own one of those pieces, through the addition of an auction.  The event turned into a valuable lesson on the business side of the art world for the students involved and highlighted the historic organization founded in 1964 by the prominent musical artist, concert soprano Dorothy Maynor.

This one-of-a-kind event featured 18 works of art created by the HSA Media and Design students and spanned the spectrum from self-portraits to historical references, and so much more.  These students have been receiving tremendous accolades and their talent has been the focus of much attention, on display in a variety of spaces including New York’s Wollman Rink, where last year they were asked to create a mural celebrating the rink’s conversion over the summer, to a pickleball court.  In the Fall of 2023, they were invited back to create several murals highlighting the start of the ice-skating season.

This past November, two of HSA’s students, Nana Adowa and Kayin Bann, were chosen through a partnership between H&M, Harlem Fashion Row, and Harlem School of the Arts, to design several bespoke hoodies for the launch of the H&M 125th Street, Harlem store.  The hoodies were offered exclusively at the 125th Street location.                       

It has been an exceptional time for HSA, and in particular for the Media & Design department as it continues to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to Excellence in training and arts education, something that was fundamental to founder Dorothy Maynor when she first opened the school 60 years ago, and which remains key in the organization’s commitment to youth development.

The exhibition and auction in collaboration with Seward & Kissel was a milestone moment for both organizations, as summarized by Steve Nadel, “The Black History Month art exhibition and auction collaboration between Seward & Kissel and the Harlem School of the Arts turned out even better than we could have hoped. Not only was the art produced by the HSA students amazing, but the feeling of community was felt and shared deeply by everyone, especially with the month-long auction allowing so many to be a part of an important event.” He added, “Seward & Kissel is honored to support and amplify the voices of these amazing artists from the Harlem School of the Arts.

To date, the auction has reached close to $8,000, with bids for some paintings going as high as $1,000.  One of the most popular of the works was the self-portrait created by Nana Adowa who said that in her work she tries to tell a story and her goal is to get those viewing her work to feel something.  This particular piece she said, “was inspired by memories of going back to Ghana, and how I feel whenever I am there…and everything I see in Ghana, the food, the people, the culture has helped me to become the person that I am today.”

Another young artist, Marley Alvarez said of her work that she hoped “to capture the juxtaposition between reality and imagined elements…and show emotions through color and expression.” 

This year, the Harlem School of the Arts is celebrating 60 years of founder Dorothy Maynor’s mission and legacy. HSA exists because Ms. Maynor recognized the need to provide the children in her adopted community of Harlem, access to the arts. She understood the power and the ability the arts held to enrich lives.   She once said, “What I dream of is changing the image held by the children… We’ve made them believe that everything beautiful is outside the community. We would like them to make beauty in our community.” That was the catalyst that led her to create the organization, and later to build a 37,000-square-foot home for this historic institution.

Thousands of children have passed through HSA’s doors on their way to developing an invaluable sense of purpose, focus, and respect for the arts, whether they ultimately pursue professional careers in the arts or not. 

“I view opportunities like this, for our Media and Design students, with the prestigious law firm of Seward & Kissel as priceless,” said AK Lovelace, HSA Media and Design Chair. “Providing pro-level training and facilities is paramount in our program, but cultivating opportunities such as this, where our young artists can showcase their abilities in the real world, is everything. Their thoughts, concepts, and working understanding of the mechanics of this world are all well prepared and fed through this exposure.”

On March 19th, 2024, the students have been invited to participate in an art exhibit focused on the Mental Wellness Matters initiative, at Pace University.

To learn more about the HSA Media & Design programs visit, www.hsanyc.org.

Sam Mattingly

Sam Mattingly is a corporate communications professional who served in senior leadership positions with MasterCard Worldwide, L’Oreal USA, and 1-800-Flowers. Her foundation in communications grew out of her early experience as a production associate with WABC-TV Eyewitness News and as a segment producer for the station’s morning show. Her skills in public relations came courtesy of a Paramount Pictures’ unit publicist training program that provided her with on-the-job experience, working on major motion picture projects with some of the most respected directors in Hollywood. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sammattingly/

Photo credit: 1) (L-R) Department Chair AK Lovelace with students and teaching artist, Mr. Azekiwe Providence. 2) Self Portrait by Nana Adowa. 3) (L-R) Kayim and Nana (HSA students) at the opening of H&M on 125th with their fashion creations. All photos courtesy of SMC Solutions and HSA.



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