The Studio Museum In Harlem Announces “Expanding The Walls 2023,” A Youth Photo Exhibition

July 26, 2023

The Studio Museum in Harlem today announced the online photography exhibition Between matter and memory: Expanding the Walls 2023.

Featuring work by fifteen artists in the 2023 cohort of the Museum’s signature teen program, Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community. This year’s online edition of the exhibition marks the program’s twenty-third anniversary. The exhibition will be accessible at beginning on August 2, 2023.

Founded in 2001, Expanding the Walls supports the photographic practices of teenage artists based in New York City through workshops, gallery visits, and discussions led by contemporary artists. For over twenty years, the archive of Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee (1886–1983) has been central to the program as formal inspiration. Over the course of the eight-month program, the young artists also engage with the work of photographers such as Dawoud Bey, Latoya Ruby Frazier, Texas Isaiah, Carrie Mae Weems, and Ming Smith. These artists, alongside Van Der Zee, provide a rich intergenerational dialogue in which the teens can situate their work and practices.

“This year, fifteen artists were challenged to explore the depths of their creativity and develop their own unique language as visual storytellers through their practices,” said Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. “This extraordinary cohort has honed their skills over the past eight months through active engagement with the world around them and their lived experiences. We are proud to share the incredible work.”

Between matter and memory considers how photographs can be used to process the gap between physical experiences and intangible recollections of the world. Provoked in part by the ending of Covid-19 as a public health emergency, the artists in this exhibition explore New York City as it is lived and remembered now. Whether depicting the solace of waking moments or the joy of neighbors, these photographs manifest the desire to hold onto a point in time. Reckoning with the inaccuracy of memory, these fifteen artists use the space between the certainty of the present and the instability of nostalgia as an aperture to the world.

Chloe Hayward, Director of Education, said, “The photographs in Between matter and memory: Expanding the Walls 2023 are a portal to a time that once existed, still exists, and could exist. These young artists creatively capture the slippery process of memory, which often finds tension between the experienced, the known, and the unknown. The Expanding the Walls teens have found a pathway for themselves through their photography.”

Between matter and memory: Expanding the Walls 2023 is organized by Amber Edmond and Sheldon Gooch, the Studio Museum in Harlem and MoMA Curatorial Fellows; with Ally Caple, Expanding the Walls Coordinator; and the Expanding the Walls 2023 participants.

Expanding the Walls

Expanding the Walls and youth programs are made possible with support from The Keith Haring Foundation Education Fund; Joy of Giving Something; Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation; Conscious Kids; Hearst Endowment Fund; and by the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Trust.

The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Learning and Engagement programs are supported by the Thompson Foundation Education Fund; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; Con Edison; Harlem Community Development Corporation; May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation; and Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts. Additional support provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.

The Studio Museum in Harlem is deeply grateful for Donna Van Der Zee’s continued support of Expanding the Walls.

The Studio Museum in Harlem

Founded in 1968 by a diverse group of artists, community activists, and philanthropists, the Studio Museum in Harlem is internationally known for its catalytic role in promoting the work of artists of African descent. The Studio Museum is now constructing a new home at its longtime location on Manhattan’s West 125th Street. The building—the first created expressly for the institution’s program—will enable the Studio Museum to better serve a growing and diverse audience, provide additional educational opportunities for people of all ages, expand its program of world-renowned exhibitions, effectively display its singular collection, and strengthen its trailblazing Artist-in-Residence program.

While closed for construction, the Studio Museum’s groundbreaking exhibitions, thought-provoking conversations, and engaging art-making workshops continue at a variety of partner and satellite locations in Harlem and beyond. For more information, visit

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